Home»Latest Newsletters»Madness Information Service Online Newsletter Issue Number: 760 – Sunday 1st December to Saturday 7th December 2013

Madness Information Service Online Newsletter Issue Number: 760 – Sunday 1st December to Saturday 7th December 2013

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Hello and a very warm welcome to this week’s edition of the MIS Online newsletter.

Although this year’s Madness Weekender may be a fading memory for many, and a number of you have already booked in for next year’s event, we spend the majority of this issue looking back at this year’s long weekend.

For those of you who went along it should prove to be a useful aid in helping to fill in the blanks, while those of you unable to go should find it an essential read, detailing just what you’ve missed. Whichever pigeon hole you fit in we hope you find it an enjoyable article.

As we now have the band booked in to Butlins in November 2014 we already have our first 2014 gig dates. We realise it’s early days, but let’s hope more follow over the coming months. Here’s hoping!

Enjoy the read,

Jon Young, Liz Hazelby, Rob Hazelby, Simon Roberts


See below for all forthcoming Madness and Madness related gigs and events. If there’s something we’ve missed off or you feel should be added then please let us know.


December 31st – Dublin – www.nyedublin.ie

*** NEW *** November 21st – 24th 2014 – Minehead – Earlybird tickets can be ordered here: http://www.bigweekends.com/splash-pages/madness2014.aspx

For tickets also see links via: www.madness.co.uk

Suggs Live

Suggs My Life Story, the West End of London December Run.


December 8th     – Garrick Theatre, London’s West End.
December 15th  – Garrick Theatre, London’s West End.
December 22nd  – Garrick Theatre, London’s West End.

April 2014

2nd – Newbury Corn Exchange
3rd – Loughborough Town Hall
4th – Wakefield Theatre Royal
5th – Southport The Atkinson Theatre
6th – Runcorn The Brindley
8th – Mansfield Palace Theatre
9th – Stamford Corn Exchange
11th – Isle of Wight Shaklin Theatre
12th – Aldershot Princes Hall
13th – Wimborne Tivoli Theatre
15th – Bury St Edmonds The Apex
16th – Tunbridge Wells, Assembly Hall
17th – Stroud Subscription Rooms
22nd – Chelmsford Civic Theatre
23rd – Stevenage Gordon Craig Theatre
24th – Redditch Palace Theatre
25th – Malvern Forum Theatre
26th – Margate Winter Gardens
27th – Northampton Derngate
29th – Bolton Albert Halls
30th – Darlington Civic Theatre

May 2014

1st – Newark Palace Theatre
2nd – Redhill Harlequin Theatre
3rd – Watford Colosseum
4th – Yeovil Octagon Theatre
10th – DUBLIN Olympia Theatre
13th – Harlow Playhouse
14th – Lowestoft Marina Theatre
16th – Leamington Royal Spa Centre
17th – Jersey Opera House

The Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra

No further gigs at present. Keep an eye on: www.ltso.mis-online.net

Deaf School

No further gigs or events at present. Keep an eye on http://deafschoolmusic.com for more information.

The Lee Thompson Band

Note: The Lee Thompson band (yet to be named otherwise) features son Daley on vocals. The local Barnet band played a gig at the church earlier this year. (find on youtube under the name reverend green that one.) They played another pub in Barnet recently and this week played again at The black Horse. The old bull is their fourth charity based gig.

When? December 1st. The Old Bull. Barnet.


If money’s currently burning a hole in your pocket then perhaps we can help with your dilemma.

The Specialized Store and T-Shirt section


has been updated with more merch – some that was not previously available. Christmas is coming – It’d be a good place to start for that ska fan in your heart.

All proceeds go to The Teenage Cancer Trust.

LTSO, Bangarang, Featuring Dawn Penn

Single release date December 16th.

The Magic Line Album * Out Now! *

Signed T-shirt packages and a deluxe edition.


A range of Magic Brothers T-shirts, Polo Shirts are now available to buy.

The CD album is available via Amazon and the download via iTunes contains an interview with Phil Jupitus talking to Woody about the album.  But if you buy the album via the official band site you can choose a signed option or bundle.

If you’ve a spare £75 and are really into the magic, then there are 25 packs going fast that include all of this….

The Magic Line Collectors Pack – Limited Edition of 25 includes; The Magic Line Signed CD Album. The Magic Line Digital Download. The Magic Line T Shirt. Woodys Drumsticks Signed. Nicks Guitar Paick Signed. Copy of Album Lyrics. “Thank You” Phone Call From Woody & Nick.

Our thanks go to Paul Smart for the above

The Liberty Of Norton Folgate – Reissue on Salvo

This edition is retailing at just over £5.


Suggs “The Close” Signed Book

Suggs is one of pop music’s most enduring and likeable figures. Written with the assured style and wit of a natural raconteur, this hugely entertaining and insightful autobiography takes you from his colourful early life on a North London council estate, through the heady early days of Punk and 2-Tone, to the eighties, where Madness became the biggest selling singles band of the decade. Along the way he tells you what it’s like to grow up in sixties Soho, go globetrotting with your best mates, to make a dead pigeon fly and cause an earthquake in Finsbury Park.

Suggs is a singer, songwriter, DJ, actor and TV presenter. He is perhaps best known as lead singer with Madness, who have had 24 top-twenty hits and continue to tour. Suggs lives in Camden, London.

– Features unseen and exclusive lyrics.
- 352 pages.
- Hardback.


Louis Vause – Midnight in Havana

“Oh dear. I’m alive..!” Pianist Louis Vause has always said that his albums are “Gouged out of him by circumstance” but his third album ‘Midnight In Havana’really is a case in point.

Recorded as a valedictory set, a swansong if you like, after he was told that the onset of cancer meant that he had mere months to live, the completion of the work coincided with his liver transplant and the all clear. He was in the pink. The same could not be said for his credit cards which had covered Louis’ uncharacteristically cavalier spending on recording costs.


Mark Adamson of the Deaf School Website gives us an exclusive quote or two from Suggs, on the forthcoming Deaf School Book.

Deaf School – the story is told at last!

“For me, the gigs Deaf School have done recently have been some of the best I’ve seen by any band.”

So writes Suggs in his foreword to a book, published this month amid a flurry of Deaf School gigs and other Book Launch events, charting the creation and career of a band that influenced so many artists that followed – and that still fills venues 40 years after their debut at the Liverpool School of Art Christmas Dance.

Deaf School had a huge impact on Madness (Suggs: “Back in my youth I met some characters who were a right bunch, but what we had in common was that we loved Deaf School.”) – not least, of course, because guitarist Clive Langer’s became Madness producer and because Suggs married Deaf School singer Bette Bright!

Written by leading rock music writer, author and broadcaster Paul du Noyer, a lifetime Deaf School fan, Deaf School: The Non-Stop Pop Art Punk Rock Party, is published later this month by the Liverpool University Press, priced at £14.99. Accompanying the publication of the book is a Deaf School exhibition, featuring original art works by band members, posters, photos, rare films of live performances, band stage costumes and much more.

The book is available from Deaf School’s website at www.deafschoolmusic.com


The House of Fun Weekender 3 – Liberty and Beyond

The house of fun weekender has the word “fun” in it’s title. This word is something the weekender delivers. Like the word “house” it is also a place of many rooms that becomes a home.

I’ve had some of the best times in my entire life inside this house in previous years, and I’m keen to return. I’ve heard some of the most brilliant Madness sets ever in Minehead’s big top. Unique every time. I’ve shared great times with so many great friends, and made new ones. I’ve seen moments of Madness joining other acts up on stage for a laugh, I’ve seen eccentric sights, crazy fancy dress, I’ve bumped into the band, and with MIS we’ve been lucky enough to do events & fan films and parties in the past. All so much fun, in three days it bulges out the windows for fans who are mixers, music enthusiastic, party goers, piss heads or relaxed observers alike. Butlins is a kind of mad bubble. Well this year it seems a little fitting to call it something of a liberty, in the old sense, outside of your normal world, given the chosen album for performance on the first night. Folgate Friday we are calling it. We are Minehead… and I will soon be there.

This year MIS is organising a venue on Sunday. It’s a small part of that everything you see in Butlins, the fun has been given to us early before we are even in the house, the joy of organising and setting up this thing, with the odd headache, and a lot of support all round with a great joint team, we are arriving with two bands in tow, some musicians & singers, DJ’s, a robot and even a roller-skater. What happened you see is Bernie Clifton was due to host Jaks on Sunday night, with his ostrich act, but due to bird flu he had to pull out last minute, so MIS used to Sunday working jumped into the void to fill it with fan fun.

Speaking of fans, we will be talking to a few for their highlights and grabbing a few others comments about the weekender too into our review of the event, as everyone has their own unique times across the large three day sprawl, and this year more than any, there were so many fans known to MIS there and also my personal friends too that I failed to spend any time with, I hope you all had fun where ever your journey took you.


Train journeys in are normally the dull part. But my train journey, as I sit opposite two old grannies who are knitting away, is interrupted with a text message from a man already onsite and rehearsing.

One Lee Thompson…

“I need many bras & knickers to borrow for Friday please put word out. I will return them unsoiled” LT

And the grannies then wonder why the man opposite them is sniggering into his coca-cola drink.

I ring my friend Sharon. “You there already? With Nicky and Lynn?”  Yes, comes the reply. “Speaker phone me please.”

I announce loudly to the girl’s hotel bar that Lee Thompson needs their knickers!  So begins the most pervy set of phone calls, emails and text messages in the name of Madness I’ve ever sent, as Looby, Mandy and more are added to the team of girls asked to hand over their smalls, (or in some cases larges). There is a winner who achieves double points though, the girl who coined the term “Random pants” when describing her underwear and even sends over pictures of these garments to be checked for Madness suitability, and we will talk more of her achievements later…   By now we are all excited, it’s not the thrill of female lingerie causing this though, but the dawning suspicion that Madness are bringing more than just Folgate songs back at this event, well it’s either that or Lee has reached new heights in being a solo pervert with willing accomplices in the caper. Thanks Thommo you know how to start a weekender experience for some fans in style! by the seat of others pants. Legend.


Next day the event opens, Friday morning we arrive at The House of Fun weekender part three courtesy of Mr Paul Rodger’s bigger dog filled mobile. Amongst the luggage we are in with John Tovey (the blind fan) and his girlfriend, and MIS’s Owen Collins who’s been entertaining me previously the night before with his poetry and generous omelet making skills (not always at the same time.)  As those spires of the big top Butlins venue hone into veiw like a giant upside-down cow udder, Paul is playing us his enhanced version of Folgate, which has added overtures in it. The grins of anticipation are growing, with much singing and arrival excitement. The first thing we notice is the sand is creeping into the see Madness too, it’s lying across the road having made it off the beach, but if it was wind that did it, we are blessed this year on arrival with just mild cold temperatures and no rain that dogged and bogged last year down. For this we are thankful.


We set eyes on the holiday camp, decked out in newly designed bunting. The flags returned. The little M’s returned. The thieving bastards returned. (I’m a tiny bit guilty here)  A new giant inflatable arch was back at the entrance. The dancing man design. A new Minehead tube station sign added this year to the design. A logo the same as this years poster design proclaiming the words house of fun. Chris Carter Pegg (Happy 40th dude) even said to me…

“I saw them errecting a large wooden sign in Jaks, saying House of Fun, had light blubs on and everything. I tried to see if it was liftable! but I couldn’t manage it.”

It says in the guide… “Please don’t steal.”  I think you could produce bunting with “Don’t steal” printed on it, and fans would just still nick it all the more! I think next year they really should just electrify it! It’s going to take a few fried Madness fans lying in a blackened mess on the floor as examples, before punters leave this stuff alone! It all looks brilliant though, both classic, and a fresh version. There was more of the bunting than before, and at times positioned high up to try and assure that at least some it stayed there the duration of the weekender.

Gladness bars were a new addition this year, side of the main stage standing area. Something that Suggs would claim on Saturday were nearly drunk dry, as well as a beauty area called “Sort yourself out love” to the right of the entrance where massages and such treatments were performed, one fan went in secret a little embarrassed by the concept we think, before being Twittered as the photograph for the event! The place is all teaming with fans already everywhere and it’s time to start the partying.


We start our greetings in lodge land, as Mr Garry Scurfield offers us all a champagne reception. I go around collecting the underwear mission up, and with a bra tied to my head by Mandy I arrive and explain to the artist area doorman that these pants are all for Lee, he delivers the bag and doesn’t bat an eyelid which tells you Butlins has already seen it all! Fans chat excitedly as the three lodges all commune in one area outside, Gordy, Iain, Mike, Vicki, Sarah, Looby, Lynn, we say our excited hellos. I start using my “Well done” sticker book on a few people as an icebreaker. Wristbands on, and we head out into the first venue.

Inn on the Green. DJ Wheelie bag is a Lovely eccentric man, with something of a travelling one man side show about him. In that sense, he’s a little bit folgate fitting as a warm up.  Mandy is bothering him a little, keeps asking for Missing Andy and such from a man who’s not a modern mp3 stocked DJ, his design is he’s just an old man with a bag of old 45’s, like your granddad. He is explaining he doesn’t really do requests.  I go over “I’ve got a request”  he looks at me in similar slight fear. “Can you please play your next record” I smile, and he smiles back “that I can do sir!”  The drinks begin to flow. I head off and sort the wristband for the last man in our lodge Andy Shoults before returning, now we are all in and can relax. Upon returning I bump into Tony Bass the fan who’s band will close our MIS event, and we chat and grin and talk set lists and stuff.  Then I turn to Looby Loo who’s attending the weekender at the last minute and we talk about Folgate adventures past, and how good it will be to return shortly to such a great set of songs. It’s true that Butlins events with their “play twice” set up have pushed Madness set lists into a great new mode, Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da had two great extended outings, which have slightly overshadowed the epic nature of the Norton Folgate set lists previous to HOFW days, such as Hackney or the light bar, that once stood as the most lengthy performances of new written material, so it’s great Folgate is due to get that extra long treatment.Those amongst us known as barrier huggers are already installed elsewhere at the front of the stage Madness will grace, including nearby Chris Carter Pegg who’s in an Hawaiian mode still with a garland from a party he was at Wednesday. Lets get down there, down the front, and we all kick off the mood proper with Darren Bennett (that’s two T’s as in Tshirt) playing his own blend of skinhead ska and more, with some crowd pleasing later pop moments such as the ordinary boys too. We salute him and dance and all bubble up with excitement.

“Darren really got the crowd going… I loved it!!!!!!!”  Allie Major.


With the appearance of Carl onto the stage and the look of his stage clothes tonight, in a suit and top hat, we return together to the land of Norton Folgate. No one expects the pearly kings, drummers, chimney sweeps and such dressing, recreating the movie would be an expensive task, but the design of the video backdrop captions and stage suited look of the band slightly sombre and dark, is enough to bring back the feel of those days. It’s a key flavour of folgate look for those that were there in 2009 following the best band in the world around as they recaptured their crown with a masterpiece the broadsheets adored and thus began the turnaround of Madness into the celebrated respected album making band they now are.  We are seal clapping down the front and fully expectant that Carl will shout “Strings you f*ckers” at Mike Kearsey and his small orchestra to the left side of the stage. He doesn’t quite go that far, but he does introduce the piece and we all bob along to the overture happy just to float in this little liberty, the depths of these tunes outstrip the pop sensibilities of the more recent album. Although we are in Minehead and we are in the Butlins bubble this becomes irrelevant, with “We are London” we are transported once again there to those dim silent streets and the land of these songs. We enter an era now of Norton Folgate Nostalgia.

There was never really a Northern folgate though. Those fans who still attend Madness gigs most every year, but they do so up in northern towns, many had never really had a chance to hear live some of these songs, but the weekender being an event they travel to  now each year, Friday has brought them the biggest bounty of songs new to them. Mr Scurf for example was getting 14 songs he knew but had never witnessed live.

“It was the first time I’ve heard the liberty of nolton folgate the song done live was mint.”

Mark Dickinson.

Folgate nostalgia, or the chance to hear in full the album you never got to hear before. It was epic either way. There were also two moments from the main album that arrived late in that era, missing Hackney and even Madstock 2009.  Rainbows debuts live tonight.  With a fitting cartoon backdrop it sounded great and poppy, though strangely felt and looked more like the album that followed it than actually the folgate era. Sounding a closer cousin to Leon live and looking like Misery’s backdrop video. You can consider this the least fitting piece then in folgates dark deep travels or a new extra flavour into folgate live experience and a bridge to the next place Madness went after.

Africa didnt work live. Which pretty much is what everyone would have expected hence it never having been out before. The same way powder blue got slagged off at tour gigs, there is a feeling that if you drop it too low in mood at Madness gigs it’s a fail, the sweeping quieter tracks so much harder to pull off.  This is not to say it isnt appreciated, Graham Yates called the moment  “stunning” for example.  For me it works on record, I can be that mood when I hear it, the mood of being ill and the mood being crashed out, avoiding the day beyond the curtains, in fact I will be that very Africa mood before this weekender is over, but it’s not really a place I want to be in during an active Madness gig it’s too subtle to hear above a restless crowd. Which is once again why house of fun is so brilliant, like Small World before it, this event can complete your checklist of tracks performed and provide unique opportunities for video moments, that you just wouldn’t ever get anywhere else here they can presented as one off. Gotta love that. Cant give you a link just yet, but we do know there is footage coming to youtube soon if you weren’t at this event.

The epic title track. The return of That Close. The jumping around end to Clerkenwell. Oh it was so so so so so goodddddd to be back!!!!!!!!!!   The weekender providing the biggest highs and best of times and this is just Friday night. Just the beginning. Lost amongst the songs. Ruining my voice, vocal chords shredding them in passionate sing-a-long joining in. There was enough fun in this hour alone to keep me thankful for a month.

There was a tiny disappointment of disc 2 songs not making any appearance, when rehearsals pointed to such small maybes, most especially Torrianno or One Fine Day that had had small toes in the live waters once in the distant past. But now that we know that songs from Folgate are so very ripe for nostalgia, I hope that one or two of those tracks can one day make it to the stage again. I actually think One Fine Day with it’s big top feel. Would be an awesome closing song (just before night boat perhaps) for the last weekender they stage at butlins whenever that day should come. Darren Dixon told me he had a conversation with a punter out on the dance floor on Saturday about how their weekenders were both going and when he enthused about Folgate the woman replied with a face like she was eating sour lemons raw and she replied “I didnt know any of those songs”  and you are reminded that it doesn’t work for some sections of the audience. So once again it’s so fantastic that that baffled section stayed shut up and not yelling for baggy trousers during the 7th minute of Norton Folgate or the 15 song question mark given to them.  After all, their crowd pleasing time will come Saturday.

Here’s Mike Kearsey…

Hope you all had a great weekend. The Friday night gig felt like a homecoming.

There had been a lot of rehearsal and preparation before the gig as the album had never been performed live in its entirety before – we’d done most of it for the Hackney shows but had never attempted Africa or Rainbows live. Because of this there was a real sense of occasion and excitement before and during the show and I hope that came across to the amazing audience on the night. Hope your happy & well… have a great Xmas & new year & see you in 2014!


We take in Jaks after the gig.  Bands likes bulletproof bomb have no right to be taking a place on the bill at the house of fun weekender. Why? you ask. Are you saying they are shit? Nope. They were very good they are just all too dam young looking. ha ha. Like a bunch of sixth formers rocking out still needing to apply clearasil, and we are all knocking on in the audience you know, it’s off putting. ;-) They are followed with a couple of great modern bands a little bit older than that, but it all seems to fit together nice, and the more you look at the programme of the event you get the feeling that each room’s line up isnt random but more a set of the same kinds of complementing acts. Centre stage tonight is the northern soul event packed with stars of that genre’ Graham Yates and Andy Shoultz are up there, they tell me one of the singers “the ageing crooner was pretty good” and that there were plenty of great tune come out, with “dancers getting into the spins and twists on the dance floor I was getting envious but there was no talc going down.”  Where as Reds is full of your ska/reggea classic focus with some old Legends. Suggs is wandering about and visits both Dean Parrish and Natty Bo while they are in these venues. In Jaks it’s young modern bands derived from that music performing their own material and the odd cover choices. Buster Shuffle particularly who as the last of the three in this venue, where hugely exciting, similar in mod pomp to Missing Andy and are wearing the fred perry look and playing the keyboards with their feet by the end of a storming and bouncy set. I enjoyed them immensely. It is a Shame that Deano wasn’t anywhere on the bill, as previously advertised, though I don’t know the reasons for that but he could have maybe fitting in here early on for a few numbers.  But I go back to the lodge having had such a totally brilliant Friday night. Added into the memory banks as one of the best day I’ve ever spent enjoying myself.

While I was at the bar, during one of the bands, a hand taps frantically on my shoulder to say hello, I turn and it’s Chrissy Boy. I congratulate him on nailing folgate tonight. “bloody hard” he says of doing all

15 songs. A girl then asks for a photo so I back off and let her have her moment, only for her to faint slightly and slip out of Chris’s hold leaving the photo frame that of a man standing with his arm out.

Unrelated to this a couple of people will later leave site in ambulances. Too much fun can turn into a medical condition!




Everyone has a different weekender, in an environment where Fun is so largely the aim, it’s always a bit like Christmas, it has that flipside where it’s a pressure, where travel and new environment plus so many people and then all the excitement can be wearing on some. Across the weekender there is a few comments from people on being tired out, ill from it or needing to avoid the noise, those blank looks, and people can tend to feel left out sometimes too with so many happy faces running around and pairing up into activities. This is just what happens.  I’m one of a few now needing a small reset moment after yesterdays brilliant action packed day, as some of our lot head off to the beach to wander about, I decide the best way to avoid the weekenders comedown points is to take a dip in the swimming pool for the first time this year, it’s a great way to get back into things, relaxing and also some exercise, and wow the waterslide that’s like a plughole or wall of death, It’s like the weekender flushed me of alcoholic toxins and then sent me back ready for more.

Some fans are of the opinion the entertainment billing as a whole is a little less this year. They “cut corners a bit” say Andy S, Graham Yates tells me from his overheard discussion of the weekender he feels.

” I think most people had a blast….but also couldn’t help but feel there was less entertainment laid on, Like the same comedians two days running….now I personally don’t want darts but something different may have been better. General comment I heard was the first year there was so much going on you ended up missing stuff….the second year was about right and this year there wasn’t as much.”

The morning in our lodge then includes a couple of random invasions of koast radios airwaves, before I ring a few friends and we head to the cinema, to start proper at 1pm.


With Julliet & Suzanne I head to watch Take it or Leave it on the big screen. It does somehow take on a slightly more epic life when watching it in large, and with an audience of fans in tow who knowingly laugh at certain points. Though it starts to stutter and a new disc is needed to restart it. Steve Bunyan is here from the record company and we have a nice chat before the screening, we had made a few suggestions to USM previously to today on having a film event here for the re-release and after seeing the movie there is a Q & A with Chris & Bedders, we had said Dave Robinson would be good, but they understandably have gone with band members on site for this.

Opening up the fan questions I ask Mark, we can see him in the film coming into Madness at a later stage and being involved with few bands before them, were there any other bands around the time of getting into Madness, that you think might have taken off that you played in?

“no not really” is Mark’s reply, “as they were all school bands level really”

Some questions about the film comes from Steve and also from the audience, about what it was like to make. Chris talked about the van scene and moments of that ilk being unscripted exaggerations.

Someone asks have you played preston? Which draws a pretty blank uncertain response. My fellow lodge muppets have a list of daft questions they spent ages preparing this morning. They manage only to ask the one “Who would win in a fight postman Pat or Fireman Sam?” though before Chrissy Boy cuts them down as being timewasters.  “Postman Pat if he could use jess” the ever polite Bedders chips in.  Paul Rodgers will later ask the question “When is the Slade film on?” and then remark, “well at least my one wasn’t scripted.” Slade in flame being due to be screened by USM later, it’s a darker film and Steve Bunyan asks Chris and Mark if Take it or Leave it was ever going to focus more on darker areas. ” Not really” is the reply and this is based the short time period and nature of how the film came about for Madness in both writing and making it .

Most interestingly, asking about the 2014 weekender, a fan wonders what might be next for Madness, would they do The Keep Moving album in full?  Chrissy boy replied that he always says they should do a bunch of old songs, and then mentions the band did discuss it a little after Friday what might happen in future. He talked about Elvis costello’s Spin the Wheel show that format. Which would be very exciting thing to witness if it came to be.

Most warmingly on the occasion of the full Madness seven being at the weekender together for the first time, one fan voices the feeling that it’s good to have Mark back and this gets a small round of applause.

Next John tovey meets Mark, as everyone is leaving. Getting to complete the set having been introduced to the 6 of them backstage last year in a very heat warming story we ran at the time.


An amazing group photo of fans with Chris takes place at the queue for the signing event. Wisely housed in the cinema which is hidden away slightly from the rest of the place, there is a signing of solo items, Suggs book, Thommo’s album, and Woody’s Magic Brothers CDs.  While it would be nice and wonderful to do a Madness signing in the main arena for everyone. It would be like a treadmill and would take up a whole day in terms of the popularity of it would mean cancelling a gig if 6000 fans all wanted a quick chat and photo.  The forcing of people to get a voucher for a newly bought item to be signed, is moaned about by some, understandably the feeling is of being cheated as a true fan would buy on the first day this item was out. This happening year three is clearly about the self promotion of solo endeavors being just a little less popular than main Madness things and the phrase “numbers are limited” is there, and it’s needed to assure that the band aren’t totally mobbed all day long, too tired to play from broken right hands. The room houses a myriad moments of band meets fans, photographic joy ensues, items are sold and a lot of great memories are made.

I’m not there, I’ve had these items signed at other events to me, ones I’ve helped run with Woody and Thommo in fact prior to this, so I’m happier to avoid it today. I’m finishing off organising my show, and I’m also trying to get my boys together and sort the pressure of trying to book next year, something that the marketing of the event now hoists upon you the more select you are on accommodation choice and the more popular the event becomes, we don’t quite manage it though, everyone off in their own little adventure and we don’t come together in time.


Myself and Dicka pop down to join the All Things Madness meet up, one of the facebook groups organising a get together. Alan Flyn has brought his “mates” along, as I suspected these are life sized photo cut outs of the band themselves in various poses, people are laughing and having their photograph taken with them.

“Was great to see everyone that came along to The Sun and the Moon on the Saturday, several of them in fancy dress for the evening, particularly nice to see 7 special guests that Alan Flynn brought along, they did look slightly bored at one point but think they enjoyed the photo opportunity.”

Warren Moyle.

There is a giant cut out of a bottle of gladness too and we drink from it for more daft photographs, it a fun hour and chat, and I collect from Alan the sticker poster artwork for our MIS show he’s collaborating with us on. Something that helps us pack out the venue later. Thanks Alan.

As myself, Owen and scurf now have our artist passes for Sunday we wander into the artist area, and have a chat with the real Mark Bedford for a couple of minutes, he’s watching the football match, and I ask him how the tuba playing it going, is he going to bring it out at The Ska Orchestra? sadly not. ha ha.


The fancy dress theme worked well this year. It was broad enough, that unlike previous years, when people didn’t follow the theme as such, this year it still felt like they did, because you could still come up with a song title that fitted what they were, even if they were a generic nun, or film character, there was a song somewhere you could apply. They still haven’t quite nailed the way it works though, the programme doesn’t list any time of judging or location, this and the prize information appeared instead on social media. Many were wondering and asking questions about this competition as to how they entered.  A photographer and judge was wandering the main big top looking at entrants, it was certainly more of an event than in previous years, a little more tweaking, a little more information would do credit to this extra focus given. The winning song title “Kiss The Bride”  (Elton John song).  Was a whole group dressed as brides, including men. Very Sugar and Spice that.   They were announced on the mainstage and photographed there.

Amongst my friends and fans I saw, while myself dressed as “Forever Young/Young ones”  Vyvyan, were fellow punk Vicki, Frosty the snowwoman Nicky Evans who would end up telling Suggs “No?” when asked, “can you smell Carrotts?” Mandy as Robbie’s “Candy” her sweets getting nicked off her body a lot all night, a dragged up lady Iain Mason covered in foam jizz as “come on Eileen” one of at least three fans in this mode, another in a stained t-shirt and a third was with a giant penis dressed man who was refused entry!!!! hey that can happen to penis’s. Three brilliant fans dressed as cardboard houses, the middle one was our house, while the other pointed to it, making it the one in the middle of the street. A blue skin painted smurf, has his arse cut out of his trousers and blue cheeks, which John Tovey’s girlfriend Tina pinched to check if they were real and they were. Eva was a rolling stone, though we kept telling her “twirling didn’t count” She would need to roll on the floor to make the costume work. Stav as tears of a clown (apparently Chrissy boy wanted his photograph taken with him) Looby as, poison ivy, Stuart smith as a devil in disguise, a whole team of uncle Sam like looking soliders, sarah shaw as one of the killer queens in a chess like black dress with added guns. Mike who naturally looks like Q deciding to be Bond for the night, given i suppose that JB is a ska song at least.


Ian Hannings DJing at the event was never a high point for some of us in previous years, if we even actually ever caught any of it. But this was the year he won many of us round. He’d boldy asked for DJing the main Madness stage, and was granted this wish. Probably expecting that it would be off in the wings and only heard out front of house, but this year they chose to put the DJs on stage before the Madness gigs. Thank god they rested The Cuban Brothers into a venue this year instead. It meant the many that love and enjoy their antics, including a stage invading Suggs, could do so by watching them in centre stage. Gordy is one fan who sites them as “hilarious fun”. Where as crowd pleasing DJing was the only intro Madness got both nights. Tonight’s set from Mr Happy begins with Thommo out front as moral support, showing the crowd that Ian is a known team member. They together play a few Thommo related tracks and Lee tells the crowd that he will be joining Jools Holland on this year Hootenanny to perform this new Bangarang mix with Dawn Penn. There is an air of support for Ian that’s like a big match in Football and a lot of his friends are congratulating him on a job well done after for taking it on in the big top.


I stand with Indeed somewhere near the back of the main venue, I’ve had the pleasure of greeting Judge Fredd, Emilee and the band, and showing them what Madness do here. It’s really refreshing for me to be in the this place third year but showing some friends who are new to it around, this makes the experience new once again for me to see it through their eyes. Two of the members of this band are Madness gig virgins, the other two dieheard members of the French MIS. The hamlet intro starts a Madness concert of hits, with just a touch of the latest album. And then some surprises. We happily dance away together. Fredd giving it jerky head movements and nutty dancing. Singing the classics and enjoying the packed out atmosphere.  And then it’s that pants moment. “we are going to do a song we havnt done since the 80’s claims Suggs.”   The washing line is unveiled across the stage as the front man explains the dodgy hobby based nature of this tracks lyrics.

In The Middle of the Night  & Close Escape.


As they are held up by stage staff across the length of the setup behind Suggs, Chris pointing to a few in delight, the only male invading ones are a pair of red boxer shorts provided by Garry Scurfield upon which he’s marker penned his radio stations name, ever on the look out for new advertising space. But the best ones I said we would tell you about are Sarah Shaw’s, she has (well had) the most London centric knickers a tourist could ever stumble across, covered in little London red busses, taxi’s and big Ben it’s like USM design their hits compilation covers from these down below coveralls. That alone deserves extra praise for helping these props look that good to the front few rows of fans looking on, but it’s the pants from last years fancy dress costume, that bring the most hilarity, manufactured by Vicki Lee they are adorned with the catchphrase “Rotten Bush” which had a garden based beginning before taking on dirtier connotations in a fans gang lexicon. This alone would be a double win, but the triple comes from the fact that they have been placed on stage the wrong way round and are therefore being displayed at the band, upon noticing this with a double take, Carl obliges in some re-pegging of Sarah’s knickers holding them up with a grin.

The moment is captured by Darren Dixon who sober and wisely not in fancy dress drag, is performing the role of pit photographer. Of which he says  “It was a fantastic experience, something I have been wanting to do for a long time. Madness are a great band to photograph as you never know what is going to happen.”

It’s slightly weird to be hearing In the middle of the night. Such a simple song, with very litle instrumentation to it. It’s a big contrast when heard against songs with brass and string sections and sweeping grandeur like that 10 minute Folgate epic yesterday. It sounds stripped down, but it’s just a simpler song. The song almost sounds like those times just Woody and Bedders join in on a showtime. It’s crowd pleasing though. Butlins suits it’s adult theme and silliness on an 18+ weekender.

“Bring it back as a hobby” Says Suggs of the art of knicker theft dying out. Later after the show the pants go missing. To be honest I didn’t want to be the guy who had to go and ask for them back! I told the girls to collect their own. Despite the efforts of Jim the roadie to collect and return as promised, Sharon reports to us that they were “claimed” by people backstage, Debbie’s Christmas present?  Personal mementos kept by the band?  Lee did claim at one point to be “enjoying them on the throne”. The lost pants mystery remains.

We complete a smut based trilogy really with the return of Razor Blade Alley.  Suggs claims a kind of in band X factor is going on with other singers and this is Lee’s moment. He complains it’s cruel because his voice is a little ragged, and it sounds it upon talking, but then when the singing begins it’s far less noticeable, it’s a great version of RBA and we have to go back to the 90’s I think to find the last time a couple of these songs were played a Madstock’s and such, where as Middle of night with a full Madness band is an 80’s returning tune.

Razor Blade Alley


Videos by Sharon Staite.

This weekender was once rumoured to be Madness performing One Step Beyond in full. Instead, and in my opinion a great move, we got Norton Folgate in full for the first time ever. But we also got the most complete set of One Step Beyond songs, since Madstock’s early 90’s era. We get 9 songs when that era managed 10. Which makes this years double concerts very strong contenders for the title of best Madness gigs ever. At least in terms of set list obscureness.  Thank you to the band for pulling that off.   Graham Yates calls these songs “The jewel in the crown” of the weekender.

There will always be wishes for more. A post from Mr Rodgers states the desire for a third b-sides or rare songs gig to take place on the Sunday, you do hear that from a lot of people at times I heard some one else comment “Carl and Barso, need to do something now, everyone else has made an effort to do other things.”  and when there are so many hours in a weekender like this the call for more of it to be filled with actual Madness is understandable. Fans are insatiable. We love this music and all of it’s corners. I have to listen to people like Woody too who explain how hard it is and how much work goes into those practice sessions to make all this happen. I’m thankful for the hard the work of the band, and they’ve done their 2 gigs now at this point. They can let their hair down now, and unwind with what’s left of the weekender.


Chrissy boy on the mic near to the end of the gig, asks for fans to join him in centre stage, his band (he manages them) Gorgeous George are on and someone needs to buy him a pint. I do see Chris a little later, he pops over to have a word with Looby who I’m stood with at centre stage, then he does a double take as he notices me under the Vyvyan wig, mumbling “for f**ks sake” in surprise at seeing me, and we all have a short chat about his latest band. Andy Shoultz laters tells me Chris was with them onstage, they were “very good, dry banter, a sort of folk act with Ian Dury like song writing, on tunes like Peckham Princess, they had a fan who had recently jumped up and joined them on stage and was now their tambourine player.”  I wonder if a whole band called George has stolen all these knickers then. I don’t see the band personally, we are slightly 1 minute too late up here, so Looby and I head off to Reds to check out Prince Fatty.


Adam prescot is leaving the stage to a mid level filled venue in Reds bar it’s about to get packed out. I’m here with Julliet and Suzanne, and Eva is bouncing around with us too. Prince Fatty (aka Mike Pelaconi) is the biggest thing I want to see at this weekender that isn’t a Madness band or band here with MIS. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Mike before, he’s the producer of The Ska orchestra album that came out this year, and he has with him tonight a live vocal MC, known as Horseman, who himself has a long set of roots in the traditional music coming out of Jamaica. Mike’s approach to music comes out under a couple of names, but he once gave me an album that sounded like One Step Beyond album had been mixed with Sergio Leone western soundtracks. I’m keen to catch his live show, and it does not disappoint. There is a clear crispness to Mikes production work and makes for pleasing sounds, I’m at a high point in my party mood and every song has a bounce and a twist, there is a lot of stuff people would know from the classics of ska and reggae but all with a slightly modern dub layer reconstruction.

And Suggs is here.

A very drunk Suggs. Fair play, he’s finished his hard work of two days, two unique sets and spent a lot of today signing books, the hair is more than let down, and horseman gives him a crown to wear that was around on the stage, yay all praise king Suggs. :-) The dancing is frantic, the beer splashing missguided, but the cheers and the heartfelt shout outs to roots music all genuine in love. A few choruses of wet dream are taken over from horseman, the rest of the time Suggs just pointing and praising. But the best moment is when they stopped Prince Fattys remix of Iron Shirt by Max Romeo, and started it again, added Suggs vocal in the second half, for a unique Dangermen meets horseman moment. Prince Danger Horse maybe. The whole production has that dubbed out echo machine production to it, that is one of Mike’s trademark sounds.  Here it is to watch again….

Prince Fatty – Iron Shirt  featuring Horseman & Suggs.


By the end of the set I’m up on stage at the back, with Owen and Scurf, before we all head back to Mike’s dressing room for a chat, some erm substances, and horseman does some koast jingles, last years oui oui sticker we find is still in the position we left it in after visiting Darren Bennett. Upon seeing me, Mike does a double take to recognise the face under the Vyvyan wig.

Now we go on the wander it’s about 1.30 in the morning. In Jaks the Raffle Mafia is banging out utter shite house music, but there are people in here liking it so fair alternative for them, in here we bump into Sarah walking somewhat Cinderella like across the dancing floor carrying her shoes and offering us twiglets.  We pass The Skints too as we move on to check out centre stage for a couple of songs, still going strong and looking and sounding great, but the venue is a bit spare for this last band of the evening, we don’t settle in the venue, and move on to the lodge for some late drinking, passing Suggs on his way to somewhere with his team taking him away from the pestering world of the fans, having more than done his duty by this stage.




Sunday morning, Garry Scurfield treats me to breakfast in the coffee shop. We sit watching the workers who are talking the main stage apart. Ghost Town is playing from Bar Rosso near by.  That’s how Sunday morning feels, quiet and calm.

“I only went to the comedy on the Sunday but think they did different sets….Paul Kane or might be Cain was brilliant….Junior Simpson was ok….other guy I saw was a bit of a poor mans Russell Brand but forget his name”  Graham Yates.


Spakatron is the inappropriate name coined for our crashing robot friend. His official name is supposed to be Koasty the koast train. He is a 1970’s big trak toy pimped to look like Thomas the tank engine a little, and covered in stickers relating to the koast train show being in Jaks tonight. We discover to our delight that it’s immense fun to send him on incredibly long runs away from us in the main arena and then pretend innocently he’s nothing to do with us. It’s a bunch of double takes by unsuspecting weekender wanderers. The staff in the venue find it amusing too. At one point we put a phone camera on him and send him off to head butt a coke machine.

We also bump into, The Comedy Wardens at this stage. They are the same performing troop “squeaky hill”, who are responsible for the old ladies riding wheeled shopping bags, now they are dressed as world war era wardens with fake teeth in, specs and a number of signs telling you off, such as “No Photography” etc, like a couple of park keepers they are wandering around and getting involved. Myself and Owen and Scurf, and the band The Inflatables all hang out with them for a bit, if you catch the acts like these they are great to banter with. I love them, they add something, gentle and amusing. We keep mentioning the two ronnies at them and morcambe and wise etc and they do their catchphrases back at us along with lots of hand on hip leaning back and reminiscing about the good old days.

We head off into Inn on the green meeting up with Fordie for a pint. At the time the talk was of Hootennanny for Lee Thompson and Bangarang the single plans, Mr Happy arrives and we give him Spakatron to play with for a while, and pardon the pun, he seems Happy.

Gary Saunders passes by the window on roller skates, and I run off mid sentence to enjoy his practice run, we bring him into inn on the green and do a race between him and the koast train big trak robot. He wins easy. Then we try to persuade Looby to go for a ride on the toes of Gary’s skates and it nearly goes horribly wrong but I catch them both, it’s a trial run so we know how far not to go in the show later.

For a third year in a row I miss out on the Quasar laser game, but this time it’s a grumpy runner of the game office that despite being advertised until 9pm is telling us it’s closing at 5pm tonight.

At least I made it as far as the desk this time, maybe next year I will actually get to shoot lasers.  I head off to Meet Indeed again and we all go to the artist restaurant for a meal and a chat.


One of the biggest surprises of the weekender in terms of fans events was the news shortly before the weekend that Darren Dixon was going sober. The drunk umperlumper or wacko jacko sight that was an unavoidable character in both previous years, (even making the photo gallery of the DVD) was now changing his recent wayward antics into a more noble grueling sobriety challenge and charity fund raising cause for teenage cancer that has nearly hit the grand mark. If you think it’s hard to not drink at house of fun, drop him the last few quid here and tip him over that grand point, now he’s succeeded in avoiding the booze for one month.


In a separately hatched plan though, Vicki Lee and gang turned the ska orchestra gig, and some of the band too, into Dicka clones, with face mask a plenty in two poses. I tell you It’s weird watching the band with two Dickas starring back at you, as fans opted to wear them on the back of their heads, once the band started.

“Ha ha where do I start. It was quite surreal seeing people you don’t know walking round butlins in them.  And when u see LTSO band members wearing its crazy.”


Which lead later to the fourth signing of the weekender. “We where sat around having a drink and my fan club i.e. Sarah, Vicki etc. decided to do it.. Wasn’t as popular as the one the day before.”


I’m a little bit worried if The Ska Orchestra has done enough for tonight’s show. Though I’m possibly alone in that thought. It’s just the set list and effort for last years Butlins was imense leading as it did to their first EP, bringing back Crunch tracks too and winning a huge wave of new fans. It’s true that the pages on facebook have not massively increased in reaction to their appearance this year like they did last time around, and that the set wasn’t as interesting a contrast as the previous triumphant one. There are two great moments for me though that stand out as the highlights I just couldn’t miss, and beyond that a great overall performance, the feedback I see, along with the packed out look of the punters on the night, tells of a show that was hugely appreciated and for many an airing of the album they now know by a band that in the last year has become established, the album being released at mid point between these two butlins gigs.

Stand out moment one was, Daydreamers. As a Crunch fan. With some fellow crunch fans here to see it. We witness a new version of this track, as Bedders plays on a Crunch! track for the first time I believe, and also yes Andy riley in this line up on guitar is new to it’s sound too and Jake on Trombone. I dance to the track merrily and keep pointing at Robert Wardlaw every time they mention Bobby coming out to play.

“What a great set you done at house of fun on Sunday didn’t stop dancing great band.”

Tony Harold

Rhoda Dakar. No doubt a kidnapped guest from Friday based on her banter was a brilliant move by Lee to not let her go home. No no no. He offered her fresh underwear to stay perhaps! The way she quipped and back tracked about Dawn Penn’s smile was marvelous fun and her comments also rang true for me. Of all the times The Ska orchestra has played No No No just recently it’s got better each time, Dawn was a stoic performance at the jazz cafe, Bath was then a triumph with out her as Loobys video from that event shows on youtube with the crowd singing it back, and now Rhoda’s version recreated some of that and added a much better brilliant female singer who seemed in a great happy mood to be there on the track, clearly she was having a whale of a time and it shone through, and even if the song should be about heartbreak and its not so here, this is Sunday of house of fun and this should be about a big hit and a big sing-a-long.

Darren praises Lee for his soldiering on, with his throat being a problem saying that other acts would have canceled, I echo that, and for Darren too, the Madness gigs have just been too good and too sing along this yeah it’s effected everyone who was watching them perform.


After the band finish we all head back stage, to arrange the quick turnaround of Louis Vause and his Piano as he’s joining us in our MIS show in just 1 hours time, to fit between this show, and his lift home at 7pm, Looby as PA collect Louis and we talk to the stage manager.

My apologies to Madam Sorcher, who although not listed on the bill, she was DJing after Lee’s show finished, at the side of stage, I was unaware that walking across the side platform the construction was somewhat unstable, this caused the record to jump and a needle scratch to be the next thing the venue heard, and I can assure you this wonderful DJ who plays female vocal skinhead ska and more, isnt the kind of DJ to throw in a hip hop move like that on you! It was entirely my fault, she was pumping out a great set, and didn’t need my feet in the way, mortified I raise my arms in realisation and admit my stupidity to hubby Darren. Sorry guys.

I get a better reception in The Ska Orchestra dressing room. “Daune eddy? is it.” Says Andy Riley to me. He’s talking about one of my previous reviews in MIS of his guitar playing. He’s clearly happy with the comparison in a big flattering way. “I’ll have to use that quote he says.”  And we chat with the main man Thommo for a bit. I praise him for Razor Blade Alley last night, assuring him from what I heard through the speakers it sounded great to me on the night.

Out side Jaks bar cold sherpers (squeaky hill again) are climbing the north face of the children’s closed playground equipment and not getting very far.   It’s time to warm up then I guess as we head into Jaks to start the MIS presents show.


Jojo from the production team who is doing a great job of looking after us, shows me into Jaks behind stage area, pointing us to our dressing room area and rider, which in the words of the koast train boys, will later make my liver cry, and I start DJing the show, while teaching the other boys how the DJ desk works now I’ve been shown the operating system, and then I am explaining the shows microphone use to the soundman Valentine.  Waiting until there are a few people in at least before introducing the show proper. The whole atmosphere in the corridor behind the stage all night long is one of nervous excitement akin to the muppet show and I feel like Scooter. Darren Dixon later said “I just saw you running around shouting 4minutes at people.”  When the first two people arrive at the bar, I run out into the venue and put a few “Well done” stickers on them. They turn out to be MIS readers and I shake their hands as they say they are regular weekly readers. Thanks for coming guys!  When about 20 to 30 fans are in, including Spencer, thanks dude. We stop playing the mix of rare madness and known madness songs that began the show, and I go out onto the stage as Owen takes over the DJing.  I launch into a parody of Suggs one man show, which in our version involves the cat dying of a heroine overdose, I follow this with a run down of tonight’s bands and acts, and then I say what I really need to know this is truly an MIS show is Garry Saunders on wheels of some kind, explaining the boys history in foolish endevours in this nature before installing him on the dance floor as a one man roller disco to the sound of “Disappear”  Garrys on Rollerskates the show can begin.


Including a great “Miss you” poem performance, Owen launches into his show. It’s still early with the audience slowly building up in our venue, and we have a short window of time in which to celebrate the great Louis Vause in our show, the closest I could get to enticing a member of Madness onto our stage. A man who in his own right has an interesting background and musical skills a plenty. Owen lovingly insults him over the swansong nature of his album Midnight in Havanna, now that thankfully Louis is alive and well and still with us. It’s tight on timing but the team manage to get his piano onto our stage in time installed and sounding ok, and with Owen on coconut thumb piano (something the venue managed to tune to the piano!) we get a performance of the track “Enter Ladies Man”.  I install Mr wheeze on the stage. A 2d cardboard Mr man version of a Madness bside, made by Julliet.


Hi, Here is Judge Fredd from the band Indeed…

One week  ago, I was at the Jaks Bar trying not to do some mistakes about keyboards and basslines. This concert was so surreal for us, as we’re a very small band. It will stay in our minds forever as our first gig in the U.K. People were so kind, there; very helpful. It was like a plan which perfectly worked. It was a real pleasure. Thanks Jon and everyone in the “MIS Presents” team, the different managements (Madness and Butlins), The Inflatables, Garry, Owen…Sharing a dressing room with Louis Vause  and other musicians (known or not) still makes me smile when I think about it.

The day before, we saw Madness doing three little unusual gems in their set, dancing with a young one.

Perfect week-end, isn’t it?  Au revoir.

Judge Fredd

My eye. Burning the boats. Ceil blue. Breathing Louder. This French bands own songs make up a half hour set for us in a gentle new wave mode.

With two Madness songs re-worked in a different style. Sun and rain, and Burning the boats.  In homage to Judge Fredd I’ve left a little Vote for Fredd sign under his keyboard.

The previous night I discussed with Indeed what their biggest number of audience was previous to this, 49 was the estimate for appearances by them on their French party scene. I think we managed to push that up a little further climbing towards 100. It was emotional for me, to know that the audience had arrived to this level to take in their performance, I had personally asked them to appear, traveling all the way from France (and the Caribbean). For the few fans that told me it was excellent I am grateful.  The performance of Ceil Blue, by the mother who left her baby for the first time to come to do this gig, a song that uses words written by me, was a powerful moment of pride for me. Emilee performed all the songs beautifully. Suzanne in the audience turns to me and says “She does sound like you said, a bit like the cardigans, I love it.”   Madness management are in and film a little of the show, while thanking me for the efforts in putting something on tonight, and we give Katy a gift from France in return for their own efforts.

I could have been more than happy to just watch all of Indeed on my own, having never seen them play myself in person, but with their version of Burning the Boats, I sense a quiet chill of attention from the present audience to this number, unexpected but recognised everyone seems to be really enjoying the moment. It forms my proudest point of staging this show and also the sinking of my ship in terms of all energy remaining it’s all burnt away now.

“The atmosphere in Jak’s on Sunday was fantastic. Loved seeing Indeed and catching up with Fredd and Emily.”

Iain Mason


I’m a bit of an emotional wreck by this stage, and more a pissed bastard too than a pop one, overwhelmed by so much of this great weekenders experiences, up to the last personal enjoyment moment, and a bit lost in terms of the next part of the show due to too many changes and drop outs. While most things have a structured running sheet and are working well, the next bit isn’t so nailed down anymore. Back stage I’m telling the koast train team to be ready and cued up. We are over running too, but I know with the elements that have dropped out we can get back on track for the live radio broadcast window slot if we do it right. We turn into blue peter, taking John Tovey and his guide dog des out onto the stage, current in the bestsellers chart with his book about how Britain’s best guide dog award has changed his life and even got him back to Madness gigs. Myself and Owen are frantically discussing the next set of elements for the show must behind the stage, which to do and which to drop and I’m getting a bit in a whirl and I keep asking him to shorten what he is saying. We go out and do the radio one 90’s audio track next, and smash up the worst cover version of the house of fun there has ever been,  the one on the mini-pops album. Gordy in the audience helps out and joins in with his pith helmet. I eventually just hand all responsibility to bring the show home over to Garry and Tony, who are up next with their radio show and then final band left to perform, and I collapse into the comfort of the dressing room chair for a bit, safe in the knowledge that they have the skill as a great team to finish this adventure in the way that had been discussed or anyway they felt capable of.


Fuelled by adrenaline the north east koast radio boys lead by Mr Scurf, and with a slightly knackered Robot having a wander, take to the stage to begin The Koast Train live show. The Live Broadcast almost worked. But as you will hear it did skip across the internet due to broadband issues, so is about 80% there in terms of listening back, here.  http://www.mixcloud.com/garryscurfield/house-of-fun-2013/

I think my favourite bit might be Mr Scruf explaining to minehead where ashington is in terms of left turns, supermarkets and roundabouts nearby.

“Auctioning of the signed suggs picture was mint that We helped raise 60 towards Dickas total, taking the mick out of Scurf with the Smurf book and seeing people laughing…and just the buzz of doing the Koast train to a live audience singing Fiery Jack… 84a5a. etc”

Mark Dickinson.

Phillip Toogood who was a one time sax player in Badness back in the days when Madness weekenders were short seaside trips for us, he appears for a few live sax riffs. Ken thomson from Shut Up joins in on his keyboard. Phillip is Talking to me in the corridor after thrilled at having played again, such a long time since he played. Maybe phillip should rejoin a band. It’s moment like this that might seem small, but MIS has always been about any fan effort never being a small thing and giving people their moment. It can be forgotten every fan counts. Without them the whole of Butlins would be empty right now.

Andy Keys clark is performing on the show too. It’s one of the few things that gets me out of my chair and back into the now packed out venue, because I just have to witness it. There is something metaphysical about the song “Time” like a pause button on the planet, even tired and drunk and I can stop being both these things for three minutes and appreciate this. He later signs an album to me in thanks.

“MIS has done a brilliant job keeping the fun & spirit alive on the Sunday evening in Jaks Bar at the House Of Fun Weekender. After buzzing from seeing Stone Foundation & the excellent Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra, MIS Presents continued the party well into the night along with the wonderful ska tones of The Inflatables and the pure Madness of Mr Scurf & the Koast Train Team. I had a great time performing as a guest on the Koast Train, and being part of the Madness fans family it couldn’t get any better. I have had some feedback from my performance and it was apparently received well by the crowd. People who heard the live broadcast said my tunes sounded great, so I’m very pleased with that & thank you for sorting everything out.”

Andy Keys Clark

“Scurf was inspired lunacy.”

Iain Mason


The Inflatables. A ska/reggae covers band in the right place at the right time. Their presence, their ska banner on stage, their following (Oxford isn’t so far and their history touches back to the 80s), their genre of music, their sound set up, all spot on and the set chosen between us and them, (we cant have too many normal sounding madness covers here its not right) is lapped up in a sweat frenzy, their performance with about 15% of the weekenders remaining total audience rammed into the jaks venue at this point 500 or more souls dancing the place out, rocking, wether it was the cherry on the cake for all the entertainment we provided or the thank you for sticking with us through it, from Monkey Man, to Geno, from the Harder They Come, to medleys of Bob Marley or more classics. It felt like being back at one of the old school weekender, fans just dancing to the music they love. More on the money than a fleetwood mac band surely. Sunday needs once last dance like this, and the boys delivered it.

Kind of fitting that there is a giant Inflatable at the entrance of course to the weekender when you walk in, and as we exit it in time, The inflatables pulled a giant audience for jaks bar, to much applause.

“The Inflatables were superb — they put the Jumping into Jumping Jak’s.”

Iain Mason


And because I loved that moment when Many Rivers to cross was played at Islington by the ska orchestra, because it’s disrespectful to end such a great weekender with only just an obvious Madness cover, because a guest joining things is an extra treat if you can do it. The inflatables are joined by Darren Fordham guesting at my request for these reasons, thanks Darren, and the band have rehearsed a new song at my asking, thanks guys. A cover of Carol Kings. It’s too late.   Many years ago the great Mike Barson formed a band, he did so from his bedroom.  In a 2005 interview he stated the very first song the very first bedroom line up of this band that became Madness ever played was covering this track (and their are reggae artists that have done so to inspire from a version) as a salute to that moment from which we all gathered forth so many times since. A moment without which this party would never have existed. Caps are doffed, and a cracking version it is too, with killer ending.

“it’s too late baby now, it’s too late, though I really did try to make it.”

And it is too late. To late to change anything now, it’s nearly all done, and the fun route taken is nearly over, too late to be up for some, the ill and the exhausted are flagging and going to bed, it’s  too late to care, something inside has died and I cant fake it, I’m utterly exhausted, those with stamina still and those with a buzz to burn off, they head off to enjoy funk and soul, but not before a final version of house of fun with everyone back up onstage, and

a brilliant final bow from Owen thanking not just the acts involved but you the audience. Yes the audience for MIS is important thanks for coming, thanks for reading.


Why I’m just left alone at the end of all this I don’t know really, given so much, witnessed so much, and had so many good times over three days, as the last band member packs up and leaves the now empty venue, I feel the abandoned drunk. The plan had been to go to Craig Charles, I’ve no idea what the time is though, I’ve no ability to read my phone screen even, stairs could be a problem, I take Mr Wheeze the 2d cardboard Mr Man Madness B side to be my friend and I head off with him and collapse into the giant deckchair and I tell him all my stories of the weekend good or bad, cardboard Mr Men based around Madness B sides are great listeners to the dysfunctional drunk. I crash into my lodge building, pass a fellow dying fan in the form of an ill Vicki Lee, and then I collapse incomprehensively into my bunk, the house of fun is structurally damaged, the gigs took the roof off and it’s walls have fallen down brick by brick, no more fun, just sleep.


Elsewhere the top Coronation street smeg head himself is finishing the best Sunday night of all three probably, for the punters that are remaining, with his brand of from the soul dancing and top beats,  the out of control members of my show, are once again stage invading, being Mr Charles beer donkey as they were last year, and hearing him recite 20 minute epic poems to them in the dressing room afterwards a fitting last reward for all their efforts this night. A brilliant weekender had by so many and here is just a few thoughts from a few more of you…

“Brilliant weekend – I now feel as flat as the draught Gladness on offer (bleurgh), They don’t sell it in Scotland and I’d been looking forward to trying it. I had to wash my mouth out with Bacardi to get rid of the taste. That was the only (very minor) low point  in an otherwise utterly nutterly weekend. Good folk, good tunes, good times. Roll on 2014.”

Iain Mason

“Great weekend from start to finish, Folgate on Friday night was superb with the talks and buster shuffle both top bands worth seeing. Madnees on Saturday night were in good form as per usual. Sunday the ska orchestra in good spirits and being joined by Rhoda  made it extra special followed by an evening in jaks with the koast train boys and ever impressive inflatables. Cant wait to see old and new friends again at the HOF weekender.”

Pete Major

“My highlights. So many. Folgate… Obviously. Catching up with everyone. Being frostie and getting spoken to twice

by Suggs during the gig on sat night. Ska orchestra.  Patrick trying to open a bottle of beer with the tin opener!

Laughing lots, drinking lots, sleeping little.”

Nicky Evans

“I loved Take it or Leave it on the big Screen and extra surprise of Mark and Chrissy Boy appearing to answer questions after, LONF on the big screen was also ace. Dancing to the Rasta music and shaking hands with one of the guys after, The Inflatables were fantabulious! Lee Thompsons Ska orchaestra were very good and Rhoda Dakars version of Dawn Penns No,No,No,No, you dont love me was the best! Of course hearing LONF set again brought back precious memories and Sat nights Madness was on top form! It was all great, roll on next year x”

Jenny Littler

“Lee orchestra,Norton foulgate,the signing (i hope they do it next year) were my highlights”

Helen Boyd.

“Highlights of the weekend for me..The playing of the Complete Liberty album, the Hits evening and meeting loads of lovely nutty people”

Warren Moyle

“Norton Folgate, Never ever thought I would get the opportunity to see if in full live.  Loved MIS presents and the atmosphere at The Inflatables was absolutely fantastic.”

Darren Dixon

“Hearing  On the town live”

Kim Ashby

“TLONF on Friday obviously….thought Africa was stunning live even though others disagreed….the Q&A with MB/CB was a nice touch…and the jewel in the crown was hearing the three unexpected gems on Saturday night…”

Graham Yates


The house of fun weekender, has the word fun in it’s title. This word is something the third weekender delivered, and like the word house, there comes a time when you have to leave it. Leaving the house is a drain, the noisy seagulls tell you to piss off, and every time you have to go it’s a hassle, the croaky voices, the tired out faces, the packing hassles, and the journey times, the sorrow or the avoided goodbyes, the things left over by mistake in the wrong places and the parts of your brain that cling onto the railings screaming “I don’t want to go” leave me in the funfair, the part of yourself that lives in this place inside your head as you go back to your daily life but you don’t really, you cant because that takes time.  Writing reviews can help to pack it all away. Uploading your videos, the stacks of photos, checking out others and liking, commenting, Frazzled radio shows like the koast trains aftermath show help, talking to your friends about how good it was helps. Booking next year helps.


Next year is selling well. Early birds have more than half filled the place at rapid speed. Next year different ideas are already starting to be discussed, next year a lot will be returning, next year the house will be open again.  Part 4 begins.  Friday the 21st of November 2014.

And this is the fun that can be had if you do go. This is what makes up three days of holidaying in Butlins with Madness.  Great gigs by the band, unique and rare and fuller than any other Madness live experience, lots of other moments, and side show acts, the opportunity to meet fans, to mess about and have smaller moments with your mates old or make new ones, make something up, plan an event big or small have some fan fun, join in, dress up, you might bump into the band, the excitement might wear you out, but you might end up calling the pace home and having a massive amount of fun.

Jonathan Young


Chrissy Boy Comments on Brighton Our House Production

Source: BBC South East News


The Xtra Diary: Suggs Recalls his School Days and how Headbangers Left Their Mark on the Madness Singer

Source: www.westendextra.com

A BANNER alongside the grounds of Quintin Kynaston school in St John’s Wood tells everyone of its “outstanding” inspection reports.

To hit such highs seems more of achievement if you leaf through the autobiography of Suggs, the Madness lead singer.

Full story at: http://bit.ly/188fAyA


This week, MIS co-editor Rob Hazelby, goes back 5 years to issue 500, and the week of Sunday 30th November to Saturday 6th December 2008, and then back 10 years to issue 238 and the week of Sunday 30th November to Saturday 6th December 2003.

5 years ago…

Issue 500 – Sunday 30th November to Saturday 6th December 2008

Well, here it was. Issue 500 of the MIS Online newsletter. Issue 1 went out on the 23rd May 1999, so we would be celebrating our 10th anniversary in 2009.

With this landmark reached, much of the intro was spent covering the history of the MIS, detailing how it was formed and how it had evolved.

On to the articles, and we kicked things off with quotes taken from a selection of unreleased Madness related publications. Some of the manuscripts were in the hands of collectors and fans, and while we didn’t want to reproduce those whole works of other authors we thought it would be fun to publish a selection of quotes from the band and wider people involved.

All quotes came from an unreleased book project that never came to anything around the 1981 era.

Next, it was over to Jean-Pierre Boutellier who was keen to give us an update on his forthcoming Madness 30th Anniversary Tribute album. Published by Big 8 Records the album was due to feature covers of Madness tracks performed by bands from around the globe.

In this article JP not only gave us an update on the album, but also gave us a brief lowdown about himself and why he wanted to get the album made.

We moved on to an article transcript next, as we reprinted an interview with Suggs taken from The Daily Telegraph. It was a nice piece of writing where Suggs revealed what he and his family do on weekends. Activities included painting, visiting neighbours and even sculpture.

Suggs also featured in two further transcripts this issue. In the first he talked about playing in smaller venues in 2009, Christmas party gigs and some new songs. In the second he spoke to The Guardian speaking about his idea of paradise, his favourite hotel, East Berlin in 1979 and much more besides.

We brought this issue to a close with the news that Madness were asking you to send in questions for the band with the idea that the best would be answered in the forthcoming Christmas tour programme.

10 years ago…

Issue 238 – Sunday 30th November to Saturday 6th December 2003

With Christmas just around the corner, and all manner of news flooding into the MIS mailbox we had a monster issue to send out this week.

We started off with a heads-up, and a reminder for everyone to get those blank video tapes at the ready (PVRs weren’t really commonplace half a decade ago!) as according to the Sun’s Christmas TV guide `Our house: The musical` would be on bbc3 on Christmas eve at 9.00am and repeated again at 12.30pm. The programme would be 2hrs in duration.

Those of you heading to see Madness in December on the 8th and 9th were given a gentle warning from reader Fiona Linnell, who reported that;

“London Underground is going to be on a go slow due to the action by the unions for the 8th and 9th December.

{Someone in the transport union isn’t a Madness fan!}

This will mean that trains will travel at 25mph instead of the normal 40-45mph.

If that was not enough the victory parade for the England Rugby team will be on December 8th starting at Marble Arch at 12 noon going down Oxford Street and eventually ending up in Trafalgar Square for 1pm.

Brilliant if you want to go and see the parade but the whole of Central London is bound to be packed as a result”.

We finished by advising those who were going to see the band on those two days to make sure they gave themselves extra time to make their journies to and from the venue.

One reader who was celebrating Christmas early was Chris Wardell, who received the best early Christmas present anyone could wish for.

Here’s what Chris had to say;

“I am pleased to say that my chemotherapy was successful, and I am now in the clear. These last few months have been really hard for me and my family, and I now intend to take it easy and have a merry Christmas.

I would like to thank Cathal Smyth and Bedders for their emails of support and good wishes, and I am now going to order a ticket for the Newcastle date of the tour. Hopefully I will see one or two of you up in Geordieland, as I frequent a number of bars with a group of strange looking chaps !

Thank you all for your emails, especially Lee Hookway, who has been calling me throughout my treatment. I now hope to grow my hair back (my kids are calling me Buster !), and rejoin the boxing gym in the New Year and get back in the ring. My Doctor has gave me the go ahead, so it will be good to let off some steam!! Anybody seen my gloves?

Football, boxing and ska is my life.”

Next-up, and we had some news in from subscriber Nicole Nurenberg, who emailed in to tell us about a forthcoming book, due to be released some time in 2004.

Nicole originally found the information on amazon.de, but as the majority of the MIS subscribers weren’t German speaking, and our translation skills weren’t really too hot, we were pleased when we found the book on the UK branch of Amazon.

Entitled ‘Two Tone: The Definitive History of the Ska Revival’, the book, written by Dave Thompson, was due to be released on the 14th of June, with a price tag of £12.99.

With Dave’s other books receiving on average 4 and 5 stars over on Amazon, we had high hopes his latest release.

This year’s Christmas tour was just around the corner, so with that plans for the obligatory Madmeets were well underway. Not to be outdone with their fellow mainland chums, Irish subscriber ‘Birchy’

got the wheels in motion for the Dublin Madmeet, which would coincide with the band’s appearance at The Point.

After getting his hands on the advance version of the Christmas TV release schedule, subscriber Graham Sharpe noticed that Suggs would be having a couple of pints and sharing a few packets of pork scratchings at the Queen Vic this yuletide.

Here’s what the BBC press release had to say;

“Albert Square doesn’t just feature in EastEnders, however. The regular cast and some favourite faces from Walford’s past join forces with an array of famous names from the world of entertainment, sport, cookery and music to throw a truly unique variety show.

Hosted by Shane Richie, EastEnders Christmas Party will feature Liberty X, Lulu, Jo Brand, Suggs, Greg Rusedski and Richard E Grant for the best night’s      entertainment the Queen Vic has ever seen – with Mike Reid pulling pints behind the bar and Clarissa Dickson Wright serving up a Christmas feast.”

We finished off this week’s issue by revealing that it wasn’t just Madness who were going to have a busy December. Top Madness tribute outfit, One Step Behind, were also going to be busy, with performances right through the month.

The band were also started to get booked up for 2004, with bookings already taken up until November of that year!

Rob Hazelby.


That’s just about it for the week, but before we go there are one or two last minute bits and pieces to pass your way.

First-up, and we’d just like to remind those of you who have yet to sponsor Bedders on his fundraising task of learning to pass his tuba grade one exam to get along to his JustGiving page and donate.

As we finished last week’s issue Mark was on a very respectable £1,000. He’s since passed this and is now up to £1,123, but could always do with more. Dig deep and show your support!

For more information and to make a donation, go to:


And finally, if you’re thinking of booking in for next November’s Madness Weekender in Minehead but have yet to do so, get your skates on.

We’ve been lead to believe that the double rooms are almost gone already, and we’re certain that the doubles will follow soon. Point your web browsers over to http://www.bigweekends.com/splash-pages/madness2014.aspx and get booking!

Until next week, take care,

Simon Roberts, Jon Young, Liz Hazelby, Rob Hazelby

(with thanks to the many contributors who appeared in our Butlins feature)

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