Newmarket welcomes back Madness
The Nutty Boys will be appearing at Newmarket Racecourses as part of the Newmarket Nights series of concerts on Friday (June 21).
Unbelievably, this year marks the 40th anniversary of one of Britain’s most cherished bands – one now probably fed up with being described by all and sundry as “quintessentially English”.
And what a four-decade career it’s been. From being responsible for timeless pop staples beloved by all, such as Baggy Trousers, My Girl, House of Fun and Our House, to releasing critically-acclaimed albums, putting on gigs all over the world and performing at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee concert in 2012 from the roof of Buckingham Palace, there can’t be much left on the Nutty Boys’ to do list.
The ‘magnificent seven’ – whose most recent album is 2016’s Can’t Touch Us Now – are currently a six-piece following the departure, in 2014, of singer/dancer Chas Smash.
Suggs, what are the qualities that make Madness endure?
I think the reason we endure is that we genuinely do enjoy ourselves. From the very beginning, you could see the joy in the early videos we made and hear it in the records. The fact that we were friends before this band started is key. I genuinely think the whole spark or art of craft and creativity was a by-product of our friendship. I think that’s what people feel. It’s a genuine experience – it’s not manufactured.
I can’t ever remember being on stage and feeling fed up with the people around me. It’s been very flattering and marvellous to see so many different age groups enjoying the band. We are looking forward to this on the tour – people of all ages.
How will you keep yourself match fit for the summer shows?
It’s like preparing for war, a war of fun, you know? A war of fun and frolics but, unlike the Romans, we are going to unleash heaven. I have a suspicion that if I didn’t have a few tequila shots before I went on stage, I wouldn’t be quite as lubricated in the joints. Tequila and orange juice is the secret of keeping those limbs loose!
I suppose our rituals are now so ingrained that I don’t notice what the rest of the band are doing.
How do you keep the feeling of it being fresh?
Traditionally, we don’t tour for months and months – we gave up on America and they probably gave up on us. Touring for years on end is what drains the lifeblood out of a lot of acts that I see. Each tour we do we try to make unique – and special. We can change the setlist nightly if we wish.
The main thing is to keep it exciting for yourself, that’s the way to ensure the audience is kept excited too.
Racecourses make up quite a bit of your itinerary, are you fond of a flutter or a day at the track?
Racecourses are great, we’ve played a few in the past where they have a few races and then you get a bit of Madness. It’s an unbeatable combination. I have a few flutters every now and then and have a bit of luck on the horses. I’m not a gambling man generally but I like it when you can see the steam coming out of the horses’ nostrils and that whole thing in front of you.
I do like it but I’m terrible loser, which has been my saving grace as far as gambling is concerned. It’s stopped me getting too involved.
I did wake up with a greyhound in my bed once. We had been to a charity auction at Walthamstow dog track and there was an auction for the greyhound and we won. I came home with a greyhound, which my wife was quite thrilled about. He did alright actually. We called him Nutty Boy and he went on to win quite a few races.
That was quite a nice time and the nearest I ever got to being an Alex Ferguson-esque racehorse owner. Turning up at the track as a dog owner was quite an experience. I’m really looking forward to all the racecourse shows. Last time we played at Haydock, we had a tremendous gig – something like 20,000 people turned up and they were only expecting 10,000.
Simply Red had held the record up to that point, so I think we are the record holders for Haydock, returning as reigning champions.
Are you looking forward to this tour?
It really feels like a tour of the people in places where they can have fun – where we can have fun.
Tickets from £32 from thejockeyclublive.co.uk. Hospitality packages available.
More by this authorAdrian Peel