If there is one band that has put their name perfectly on their performance, it is Madness. The British band, which started as The Pirates, but was quickly transformed via The (North London) Invaders into the name that the band has been bearing for 42 years now, guarantees complete madness on stage and beyond. The latter was already apparent from the interview we posted on Maxazine a few days ago.
From The Palladium in London, the legendary band, which had the record for the most weeks in the UK charts in the 80s along with UB40, streamed a performance that crossed all borders. Written by comedian Charlie Higson, the band spent an evening that was more than just music.
Madness provided their own opening act, in the form of a series of video clips of the band, which the Nutty Boys themselves discussed, announced, and in between clips gave some insight into the lives of the musicians. An original idea to grab the incoming audience by the throat and not let go until the end of the show. And that was done in a pleasant setting, recorded via Zoom in everyone’s own home. Corona proof.
At the start, the band was introduced in an old newsreel, to switch to the present, where the band members entered The Palladium, where Suggs was shown around by Higson, and finally ended in the middle of the room, where the rest. of the men, seated on the plush, were already waiting for him.
It turned out to be a performance where speaking master Higson introduced the band to quite a few scenes, in which Madness enjoyed fun over time and grew to the present. Self-mockery was of course not shunned. Suggs soon suggested that he could have a better look at Sting’s live stream. The live performance was interspersed with pieces of the audience, as well as the sneaking in by an uninvited guest, who was soon recognized as Lee Thompson.
Drummer Daniel Woodgate played his old Invaders drum kit without sacrificing a single beat, always hoping for some hard rock and heavy metal. What surprised Suggs was the early departure of Suggs, because yes, there was football tonight. Fortunately for the band, Roland Gift was soon on stage. Roland, known as the singer of the Fine Young Cannibals, where he joined the ex-The Beat members, who remembered him from the time when Gift performed with Akryklykz as a support act for The Beat, but also Madness herself. The audition went well, but Gift soon had to leave for another audition, which kept the story going.
The doorbell, also known as the intro to ‘Baggy Trousers’, soon brought in a new applicant, with whom the band performed ‘The Harder They Come’ by Jimmy Cliff. According to the band in the audience, the applicant was a much better-suited singer than Suggs, who almost laughed at the end of the row. Yet this applicant, whom we recognized as Paul Weller, also had to leave the improvised rehearsal room. Suggs himself eventually came back to apply for a job with a semi-professional band and got one last chance from the band. Typical British humour, mixed with the music of Madness herself, made the performance unique.
It was only when the curtain fell for the first section that Thompson managed to reach the seats. A brilliant unmatchable announcement for the second part opened the more spectacular part of the show. No artist would dare to have Queen Elisabeth II, played by Mike Barson, announce ‘One Step Beyond’ with a paper megaphone. Madness did it, the way Monty Python fell into nowhere. From that moment on it went fast. ‘Embarrassment’ left nothing to be desired, indicating that the band had lost nothing of its energy in 42 years. And here too the band dared to take on self-mockery by replacing “… twice as old …” with “… three times as old …”
The band took advantage of the event to play three new songs through the setlist, each of which fell perfectly into the men’s repertoire. And that is great, 40 years after the heyday of the band. And yes, of course, Suggs’s voice had lost something and the singer is of course no longer as vital as he was on his 18th at the age of 60, but still … Okay, to be fair, Queen Elisabeth also managed to dance quite well at her age. And in the viewers living rooms too, the feet will certainly have gone off the floor during the concert.
Madness managed to entertain the audience with flying colours and after the thousands of live streams that have been there over the last year, from artists big and small, this has been the pinnacle of entertainment. No other band in the world has succeeded in putting together such a show, in which recorded pieces were masterfully inserted into the live stream of the band, which also completely changed decor. Higson disappeared like a ghost, leaving Madness one last song to lower the curtain. Madness, madness, they call it madness… And they are damned right!