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Review: Madness live at Newmarket Nights

Lee Thompson of Madness at Newmarket Nights, Friday, June 21, 2019
Lee Thompson of Madness at Newmarket Nights, Friday, June 21, 2019

One of the UK's most beloved bands turned in a hit-packed set on Friday (June 21).

Unbelievably, it's now 40 years since Madness first emphatically and unforgettably burst onto the scene with their debut single, The Prince.

No one has ever sounded quite like Madness, which would explain why so many enthusiastic fez-wearing fans always turn out to see them whenever and wherever they play.

From the ska-influenced early pop classics to the mid-career more reflective tunes and onto the 'London' concept album, 2009's career-defining effort The Liberty of Norton Folgate, and beyond, the six-piece dug into their vast repertoire - including Mr Apples, a song from their most recent album, 2016's Can't Touch Us Now - to remind the packed venue that they are so much more than just an 80s nostalgia act.

As ever, the likeable bunch of musicians opened with One Step Beyond, although it acted as a sad reminder that Cathal Smyth (aka Chas Smash), who always did the iconic "Hey you, don't watch that, watch this..." introduction, is no longer with the group, having departed in 2014.

A sprightly Suggs reminisced on his band's 40th anniversary, revealing that he and his six mates appeared on Top of the Pops to sing The Prince 40 years ago to the day.

They followed a performance of the song with NW5, off The Liberty of Norton Folgate, which fitted in perfectly alongside early hits, Embarrassment and My Girl.

My Girl 2 and Bullingdon Boys were two other newer songs that stood out (the latter showing clips of the film The Riot Club on the screen behind), but they couldn't compare to the likes of Driving in My Car, Bed and Breakfast Man and One Better Day, a beautiful tune from 1984 that Suggs said they hadn't performed in a while.

Showing a great deal of energy for six men in their late 50s and early 60s, the band delivered an irresistible quadruple whammy of House of Fun, Baggy Trousers, Our House and It Must Be Love.

There didn't appear to be many people standing still and Suggs also got the crowd singing along emotively on the timeless It Must Be Love.

But Madness weren't done yet. Returning for the encore, they played Madness and the exhilarating Night Boat to Cairo, before sending the crowd off into the night tired and happy.

The Nutty Boys - fully deserving of the title of 'national treasure' - always have that effect.

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