For nearly 40 years, London band Madness have been rocking audiences with their signature brand of Ska.
While I was only a small child in their early days (I spent my first nine years on earth in the UK) I can always remember them being on the radio and on Top of the Pops (the Brit version of Countdown).
Quite simply, Madness were MASSIVE and it’s from this heyday that they draw much of their loyal following today.
Last night a sold out (largely 40-plus) Fremantle Arts Centre crowd were treated to a cross section of the Madness song book from the debut album, One Step Beyond (1979) through to 2016’s Can’t Touch Us Now.
The chilled Monday clientele made for a less boozy and, dare I say it, “mad” experience with more than a few tunes from the new record gently peppered throughout the set.
Fans of the early stuff were more than catered for with at least 10 numbers coming from 1982 and earlier, however it wasn’t until at least seven songs in until they were treated to the first big (UK) hit of the night, 1984’s “Wings of a Dove”.
It didn’t seem like anyone was too bothered, being a balmy Freo night in a historic setting meant folks were happy to dance along in the night air or sit back on their picnic chairs and blankets and chat during the songs they didn’t know.
Blackbird was a poignant tribute to fellow London lass, the late Amy Winehouse and in homage to the West Aussie crowd, the band launched into a (karaoke style) version of Highway to Hell by AC/DC. Singer, Suggs was strangely absent during this one and later remarked that the band may, “f*&K that one off in future” …Probably for the best, as Bon Scott was rolling in his (nearby) grave at Fremantle Cemetery.
The band recovered well with their classic take on Prince Buster’s One Step Beyond (possibly the greatest three-word song in history) and from there it was into the anthems. House of Fun, Baggy Trousers, Our House and It Must Be Love followed in succession and by now the Monday night crowd were all up on their feet reliving the glory days.
The band then disappeared for a quick breather and rolled back on stage with a three-song encore including the classics, Madness and Midnight Boat To Cairo.
All in all, the band was super-tight (from the signature brass section to the all-important bass and drums), the sound was brilliant and Sugg’s world-famous “Landahn” banter was on form.
We’ve been spoilt in recent weeks with fellow Ska legends, The Specials and now the English juggernaut that is Madness (showing no signs of going through the motions and enjoying every minute).
Madness play at Fremantle Arts Centre again tonight (tickets through Livenation.com.au) and then play Sydney, Melbourne and Byron Bay (Bluesfest).
Written by: @Ross_Edwardz