Hello, good evening and welcome to this week’s issue of the MIS Online newsletter.
Last week we asked you to send in your reviews of gigs you’d attended as part of the 40 Years of Madness anniversary tour, and we’re pleased to report that you’ve not let us down. This issue is packed with fan reviews, and a truly mammoth one from our very own Jonathan Young.
You’ll definitely need to grab a cuppa before ploughing through this little lot!
Now, the big news this week is that The band will perform with the Kingdom Choir for part of the set at the forthcoming House of Common gig this August.
Just released is a video with the band recording It Must be Love with the choir. The footage comes from their new year concert meeting in a new Clive Langer produced studio recording.
28th – Franklin Gardens, Northampton (Suppt: The Lightning Seeds)
29th – Newcastle Racecourse, Newcastle
4th – Noches del Botanico, Madrid, Spain
5th – Port America, Galicia, Spain
6th – Vida Festival, Barcelona, Spain
12th- Vivary Park, Taunton (Suppt: The Lightning Seeds and Chris Difford)
19th – Open Air Theatre, Scarborough (Suppt: The Pigeon Detectives)
20th – Doncaster Racecourse, Doncaster
21st – Bitts Park, Carlisle (Suppt: Bootleg Beatles & Chris Difford) Orig date 9/6/19
24th – Sanddown Park Racecourse, Esher
17th – Newbury Racecourse, Berkshire
18th – Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh, Scotland
20th – Custom House Square, Belfast
23rd – Northern Meeting Park, Inverness
24th – East Links, Montrose
26th – Clapham Common, XL South London festival. With “Special” Guests.
30th – Wolverhampton Racecourse, Wolverhampton
31st – Winter Gardens, Margate
1st – The Downs, Bristol, (Suppt: David Rodigan)
Friday 29th – Monday 2nd December – House of Fun Weekender 2019
12th – AFAS Live, Amsterdam
Before We Was We: The Making of Madness by Madness
The band’s first official book.
The story of how they became them. It’s a journey full of luck, skill and charm, as they duck and dive by day and make the name in London’s exploding music scene by night, zipping around the capital in their Morris Minor vans. Their formative years, 1970-79.
This is the riotous coming-of-age tale of seven unique individuals, whose collective graft, energy and talent took them from the sweaty depths of the Hope and Anchor basement to the Top of the Pops studio. In their own words, they each look back on their past and how during those shared adventures, they formed a bond that’s lasted forty years. Before We Was We is irreverent, funny and full of character. Just like them.
You can now buy a range of classic album design T shirts.
Absolutely returns to the official T shirt store since first appearing a decade ago as merchandise. Seven now joins the albums T-shirts range, only previously a promotional shirt. For the first time Rise & Fall (Following last year’s triumphant return of this album’s title track on tour) joins official shirt range.
Best of all, 10 years on from its box set release, The Liberty of Norton Folgate is purchasable. We are having a little bit of that!
Complete Madness. Total Madness hits albums join the range.
This range is also certainly a reaction to the continuing bullshit of bootleggers targeting social media with non licensed product not endorsed by the band and illegal.
Don’t be an idiot and buy from badly photoshopped pictures of Suggs holding a shirt up etc. Those are fake. The Madstore and official band website and gigs merchandise stands are all run by the same company with the band’s legal backing. You will only find a small number of charity shirts or some One Step Beyond shirts outside of buying from the official online store. Don’t give your money to the bootleggers exploiting you.
I Remember Way Back When
This week, MIS co-editor Rob Hazelby goes back in time to report on what was going on in the world of Madness 5, 10, 15 and 20 years ago this week.
5 years ago…
Issue Number: 789 – Sunday 22nd June to Saturday 28th June 2014
This week Clive Langer appeared on Bug Bear’s Rock and Roll High School Radio Show on Shoreditch Radio. Amongst the chat he mentioned that he’d been asked to produce the next Madness album. Whether this would end up being the entire album or not was too early in the project to say for definite, he alluded, but he did confirm that he had been asked.
Clive also mentioned recently working with Suggs on some ideas and this comment didn’t necessarily sound as if it was related to this forthcoming Madness album. Perhaps we could look forward to a future of some separate destiny.
The radio appearance came ahead of his Clangeratti solo gig that took place this week at The Dublin Castle. This went down a storm, and was attended by a sizeable chunk of the Madness line-up. We promised to have more on that in next week’s issue.
On to our Live Intensified section, and this week we were pleased to add four brand new Deaf School gigs which would be taking place this coming November.
Over in Sign of the Times we featured articles covering The Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club and Clive Langer on Rock and Roll High School where he talked about Madness and more. Also in this section we featured the BBC’s synopsis of the forthcoming Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra appearance at Glastonbury, and linked to an excellent interview Suggs gave to Arthur Smith, where Suggs talked of his book “That Close”, which was now out in paperback form.
Our “Live Intensified” section was a big one. There may have been only two reviews, but they were lengthy ones from our very own Jonathan Young. Jonathan gave us a massive lowdown of the Silencerz Live at The Dublin Castle on Father’s Day Afternoon followed by a YouTube link to a Lee Thompson cover of Paul McCartney’s “Monkberry Moon Delight”.
Next, it was over to Paul Rodgers for another one of his “Madnes Stats, Facts and Figures” articles where he finished off by telling us that the late Rik Mayall has achieved his first posthumous number one with his 4 year old football single Noble England reaching the top spot in the indie singles chart the previous week and number 7 in the main singles chart.
Following this we went into our Madness World Cup article where we were trying to determine what was the best Madness album. Previously, Absolutely won the title in 2006 in head to head album voting. But now in 2014 could one of the new albums take the title? Could Folgate take the title as so beloved by the broadsheet press as album of their career. Or could one of the other albums make a comeback in fan’s eyes?
Judge Fredd was announced First winner. Winning a vintage Peel Sessions CD, and a brand new Crunch! polo shirt, thanks to Swanny runner of the Crunch! facebook page.
Fredd was now Joined by Natalie FitzGerald, Winning a vintage My Old Man Promo CD for Fathers days. Kevin Filsell Winning a unique Alan Flynn designed Madness Clock.
With a further winner of a Magic Brothers T-shirt of choice thanks to the Magic Brothers themselves, went to Robert Wardlaw.
8 more prizes were still lined up to be given away.
10 years ago…
Issue Number 529 – Sunday 21st June – Saturday 27th June 2009
It was all-change today, as we bade a fond farewell to Lee ‘Looby’ Buckley, who had been helping to co-edit the MIS for the past couple of years.
Looby had done an absolutely fantastic job on the MIS team, but with also working as a very active member of Madness Central, she’d been finding it difficult to find time for both. So, she decided to leave the MIS team to concentrate with her Madness Central projects.
With Jonathan and Looby both leaving, the MIS the editorial team was looking much smaller in size. However, we had little time to worry, as this week Paul Muscat and Liz Maher both kindly stepped-up, and become the newest additions to the MIS roster.
In this week’s articles we reported back from AEG, who were kind enough to provide fans with an update on their Madstock 5 tickets. Apparently tickets had been posted out only a day or so earlier, and those with gold wristbands would be receiving theirs some time after the 29th of June when AEG were hoping to take delivery of them.
The campaign to give Madness a Brit Award continued this week as we noticed a Facebook group dedicated to the cause had now been set up. Although started for a bit of fun maintainer Jamie Feeley reported that it had now reached almost 500 members. Very impressive for such a short time active.
In a transcript from the This Is London web site the publication reported on the Camden Crawl, and Busking With Cancer, which now reached its third birthday, and whose organizers were hoping to raise £100,000 in the coming week.
Book news next, and we gave readers a heads-up on Disappearing London, a new book from Suggs, which was due to hit stores on the 20th August. Spanning 320 pages, the hardcover book saw Suggs taking us on a journey through the main drags and side streets of his beloved London town, uncovering the city’s hidden treasures as he went.
Elsewhere we featured another transcript, and this time it was from the Evening News 24 web site who were covering the recent Norfolk Showground gig. The review was a glowing one, and the only grumble was that it was over all too quickly.
In chart news Paul Rodgers entertained us with another one of his famous reports, and reported that Dust Devil had dropped from 8th to 10th position on the Independent charts, and that The Liberty of Norton Folgate had finally dipped out of the Irish charts.
Between the 16th and the 18th of June, the band crossed the channel, and took part in a number of radio interviews, as well as a small private concert. Always on the ball, the Skanews guys and gals were kind enough to provide us all with links galore, so you had no excuse to miss what went on over in France.
Finally, we brought this issue to a close wit the news that someone had made an almighty cock-up which was then posted to bargain web site Hot UK Deals. What was the mistake? Someone had accidentally priced the digital version of Complete Madness for a mere 29p! It turned out this was a pricing error, with Complete and other non Madness albums selling at a vastly reduced price for a short time.
15 years ago…
Issue Number 267 – Sunday 20th June – Saturday 26th June 2004
We knew it was too good to be true. Following week after week where masses of news items came our way, things took a rather more sedate turn, with the flood transformed to a trickle.
Naturally, this drop in news was reflected in the issue, which was certainly a lot shorter than ones of recent weeks and months.
Still, not wanting to disappoint, we managed to trawl the various news sources, digging out anything we could find.
News in from Andy Clayden reported that the Costello/Madness version of Tomorrow’s Just Another Day was to be included on the new re-issued 2CD version of Elvis` Goodbye Cruel World album. The release date was set for July 27th in the UK, and a week earlier in the US.
We had no doubt that the hardcore collectors subscribed to the MIS already had this on download.
Continuing on the subject of re-releases, and Chas Smash told us (via his official forum over at chassmash.com), that;
“We will be recording the covers album this year. That is, Acts of God aside a definite”.
As we all know, this album of covers would eventually become The Dangermen Sessions.
Elsewhere in the issue, co-editor, Jonathan Young reported on Suggs’ brief appearance in TV Show “Celebrity Class”, which showed how the idea of a celebrity in the UK has evolved since the end of the Second World War.
It featured many a famous commentator, from those famous from the 60’s up to present day celebs, including Eric Clapton and Badly Drawn Boy. The show studied topics from 60’s beat boom music through punk to pop idol, identifying the social trends and attitudes changing along the way.
Suggs’ comments appeared in a section of the show talking about the 60’s and how pop groups like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were mixing with upper class people like Princess Margaret, for the first time as they became famous and the cult of celebrity began to be of interest to the English upper class.
Following on from comments made by Brett Anderson of Suede, Suggs spoke about how working class lads had an escape route from inevitable dead end factory jobs into pop music for the first time. He described it as an escape from a world of “Iron filings, dust, soot and broom bristles.”
Later in a section about fame today and the likes of shows like Big Brother, Suggs commented: “Everyone wants fame now they stick their heads above the parapet for five minutes because they want to be told yes you exist and you are special.”
With Madness news thin on the ground we decided it was about time we ran another lowdown on forthcoming gigs from Madness tribute bands.
Titled “Mimicks of Madness”, this article gave gig dates for One Step Behind, Los Palmas 6, 1 Step Below, and Ultimate Madness.
With so many dates listed, you’d have to live in a really remote part of the UK to have difficulty in attending at least one performance.
20 years ago…
Issue Number 5 – Sunday 20th June – Saturday 26th June 1999
The proposed August concerts were getting ever closer by the week, and yet we were still sat waiting for the tickets to finally go on sale.
We’d since heard from a reliable source that the talks and arrangements for the two shows (we’d discovered the band would NOT be doing a week’s worth!) were still going ahead so hopefully it wouldn’t be too long before we knew if the concerts were going ahead or not.
Bedders also found time to drop us a quick update this week, with the following;
“First up is that `Lovestruck` will be released on Monday 26th July and will be available in three different formats. These are, cassette single, CD single, and enhanced CD single (this will be of most interest to you PC buffs out there). Both CD versions should include two b-sides.
London’s Capital FM and Virgin Radio are both airing `Lovestruck` throughout the day, so this is the place where you can hear it before the single hits the streets”.
In last week’s MIS Bulletin we included an album track-by-track listing which had originally appeared on the TMML a few week’s beforehand. TMML Co-maintainer, Steve Bringe, had since been in touch to explain that the list was now a little out of date and that Culture Vulture would not be on the album. This was confirmed by Bedders in his recent mail.
Mark also told us that the track ‘Remembering Oh So Clear’, which was listed for the new album in the TMML post is a track which he says he doesn’t know of.
At the moment the album was pencilled in to be an 11 track release. 14 tracks had been recorded and the band were still trying to decide which 3 tracks would not be making it onto the album.
As for the album title, `Runaway Train` did not seem to be in the running for selection. The lads had come up with four album titles but couldn’t decide which one to use. We weren’t able to tell you which ones were listed for possible selection as Mark said he would have to kill us etc.
All being well, the album was planned to be released on or around the 4th of October (give or take a week either side).
Moving away from album coverage and onto the rumoured internet chat the lads were meant to be holding on the day of the first single release. Mark tells us that 3 members of the band will be online, but at this moment in time it is not known which members would take part.
Articles in this week’s issue included a comprehensive review from subscriber Stuart Howie, who gave us a track by track lowdown on the recently released bootleg ‘Nutty Sounds Volumes 1 and 2’. Featuring such tracks as ‘Perfect Place’, ‘Alligator With a Stanley Knife’, and many more, this was something that die hard Madness fans couldn’t afford to be without.
With those of us on dial-up, or extremely slow broadband connections, the best way to distribute recordings was still via the traditional postal network. So, with the recent ‘Total Madness’ Radio 2 broadcast going down so well with the fans, a number of kind people were offering UK and US based Madness fans ways in which they could purchase a CD recording of the show at cost price. What nice people.
Sign of the Times
MADNESS NEWMARKET NIGHTS REVIEW- one step beyond brilliance
Madness are back in Northampton next week to headline Franklin’s Gardens as part of their 40th anniversary tour.
One of the top-20 selling UK groups of all time, the band will perform hits from their extensive back catalogue in front of up to 18,000 people at the home of Northampton Saints on Friday, June 28.
After forming in Camden Town in 1979, Madness went onto become one of the music industry’s best-loved and most-successful acts with hits including Baggy Trousers, It Must Be Love and House Of Fun.
Explaining about the band’s longevity and success, frontman Suggs said: “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 onstage and feeling fed up with the people around me.”
Full article can be found at the above address.
Watch Madness surprise crew of Isle of Wight ferry with performance on their way to festival
MADNESS surprised the crew of a ferry with a performance while the band was on their way to the Isle of Wight Festival.
The ska band, who have been a regular on the music scene since the 1980s, were travelling from Southampton across the Solent onboard a Red Funnel ferry ahead of their performance on the main stage on Sunday.
Full article including video and photos can be found at the above address.
Kenwood House to Celebrate Madness’s 40th birthday.
After weeks of excitement building, not even the rain could put a damper on it. It was absolutely amazing! Don’t know what I was expecting from this night but it certainly surpassed anything I could’ve imagined.
We arrived early to get our usual spot on the barrier and were lucky enough to listen to the rehearsal beforehand. A full orchestra playing along with the band, at a distance to hear the full effect without the noise of the crowd singing along (although at times we were) was amazing. Even a chance meeting and photo opportunity with Chris to make my day extra special.
The orchestra opened with Overture just the way it’s meant to sound, leading into Liberty of Norton Folgate. Highlights for me were Norton Folgate, My Girl, One Better Day, In My Street, Los Palmas 7 and It Must Be Love. I loved hearing these tracks with the orchestra, such a big sound in places.
As always happens, an hour and a half flies by so quickly and before you know it we’re onto Night Boat to Cairo and the end of a night I will never forget. The band I have loved for 38 of their 40 years, playing music I love with the big sound of the orchestra, what more could I ask for. This concert is up there as one of my favourites.
Madness Live at Newmarket Nights
Not much of a review from me but the below covers it.
2 new songs last night – In my Street (I love that one) and Bully Boys (I think that’s what it’s called).
The golden oldie? One Better Day! Absolutely fab to hear it played live. I actually don’t think I’ve ever been in the audience and heard it live over the past 27 years (has it really been that long since 92?!?)
Last year I was anticipating that Madness would cook up something special for their 40th anniversary and give me a reason to make another visit from the USA. Sure enough, in January they announced the Madness XL Kenwood House celebration, with a full orchestra, set for exactly one week after my own 50th birthday. What more could I ask for? Time to book another flight across the pond!
You know, the “live with an orchestra” thing has been done by pop/rock acts plenty of times, such as Kiss and Metallica, usually coming off as a late-career indulgence or desperation move. But for Madness, it makes perfect sense. Strings and brass have been baked into the nutty sound all the way back to the “gypsy Egyptian” arrangement on Night Boat to Cairo. Predicting Kenwood, we fans could easily list off the classics the orchestra would have to tackle, most of which came true. Myself, I was most excited at the prospect of hearing The Liberty of Norton Folgate, with full overture.
I remember in 2008 when the first demos and “moodboard edits” of Folgate surfaced, how I was swept away by those dazzling orchestral melodies. This was something ambitious and new, a proper Madness symphony! My abiding envy over missing the Hackney Empire Folgate debuts motivated me to get a passport and attend Madstock 2009 to see the band live for my first time. Sure, I got the thrill of hearing Folgate at that show, but without that magnificent overture. That itch remained unscratched.
Cut to 10 years later, and the Kenwood set opens with The Liberty of Norton Folgate in its complete and divine glory. One of the most beautiful instrumental suites composed in contemporary times, the mad symphony, given its single most powerful and extraordinary performance. While the rest of the show was delightful, from that opening selection I already felt my destiny fulfilled as the band’s loyal American fan since the age of 14, happy just to float in this little piece of liberty. Thank you, Madness, for one unforgettable mutual birthday party.
To Ken is to know.
In our little circle we chose to call the Kenwood House orchestrated Madness concert by the abbreviation of KEN.
This gave us months of Ken pun amusement in the run up to the big day. The kencitement levels in fandom in general I hadn’t seen this high and buzzing for a single day event since the Hackney Folgate shows.
From madmerising dress, nutty attire, to tippexed DM’s the fans were turning up looking the part with special touches for the occasion or in golden ponchos’ as it turned out, because the rain soggied the ground and dampened down the day but not all the smiles. The Scottish, Irish, Welsh, Dutch, American, local Londoners, southern fans as well as those from the west kentry, I witnessed had all travelled so far. Sold out, packed out, the queue in was long, the heritage house backdrop impressive like the Whitehouse, despite the site not being that well suited to a pop kencert of this kind, causing the odd access moan. It felt both a large crowd on a big day and also more intimate than most outdoor gigs as the 10,000 were spread across a far hill as well as thinly upon a slopping field up towards the house. It was some gathering, the anticipation fresh in the humid evening air.
Massive applause for a seated Darren Bennett who always gets ours knee’s up started. Chris Difford among stage smoke telling his tales and warming up the crowd nicely, as they squeezed nearer to the stage.
The orchestra was around 33 players at the back of stage. Madness 10 at the front. Requiring a special stage to safely hold them all. We were treated to what must be the largest string section they have ever had. Double basses as well as myriad violin and voila sized instruments held by seated players stretching to the far end and then a thin harp. Behind the strings a woodwind section had flute and clarinet style reeded instruments, a small smattering of more long sticked percussion drums to timpani and a gong reached to the other end of the line. All under the command of central placed conductor Nick, with his Einstein hair.
Madness sat nearer the front of stage than is normal while remaining in their usual places. Mez with his varied array of tinklers still in place next to Woody. The brass monkeys present (with a new Steve?) and a wider selection of instruments for them tonight. Mike on a french horn I think at one point, and to see Joe do Banjo on Norton Foglate was a joy very personal to me, that regular readers might connect to a past banjo event. The biggest ever Madness band then. 40+ is indeed XL beyond. (I think I might have even spotted Chas hiding on trumpet at the back in a false beard.)
“They should have played The Dublin Castle”. Joked Paul Rodger’s to me.
They were a dedicated, black tie smart looking lot, and yet still seemed to break the composure of their classical world to be bopping along arms waving to some songs (Mainly the few tunes the orchestra didn’t play on.) There were thrilled smiles among them. They began the show beautifully themselves with Overture from Norton Folgate, as the band Madness took to the stage with a triumphant Woody, ahead, leading them out to applause and much love. Love for forty years, love for this special day, and for the effort the band had put into staging this gig, which (in isolation of just the one day budget) lost them money to stage.
The set list for the night (** Included 15 Orchestrated songs marked here.)
Up for fun would be the lyric to best describe the celebratory mood of the fans gathered. The odd one here and there had space invasion issues, such was the over excitement of a packed venue, but otherwise this wasn’t just a gig it was cup final day or this early summers big wedding type event to witness.
The word on people’s social media show’s it was THE ‘Ken place to be, and turned out a special day of much kenjoyment all round, that will live long in many memories on the whole as just a bloody splendid doo.
Unforgettable in reactions…
“My Girl – Skingasms! A truly sublime gig in every way, shape and form. Music is life & Madness always the heartbeat.”- Hazel Foster
“Overture as beginning was stunning” -Aaron Caplan
“In my Street – My jaw dropped at the orchestral part of that song” – Ryan West
“40 years have flown. Los palmas amazing. Exceptional orchestra show.” – Sarah Davis
“I thought David Arnold’s Influence shone through enhanced many of the songs. Shut Up & In My Street” – Graham Yates
“June 2019 ranks alongside August 1992 as a memory that will rank in Madness loving memory” – Adrian Beeforth
“One Better day – lump in my throat, gotta say it’s the best time I’ve ever heard them play it.” – Fran Hewson
“Heart swelling moment for me too.” Sharon Staite
“Best Madness gig ever” Jade Partington
“Still on cloud 9” Kelly Driver
“Couldn’t really hear the orchestra at the back where I was standing. Liberty failed for me as an opener.” – Chris Cole
“A breathtaking gig with a full orchestra sounded amazing.” Nicky Evans
“nice to hear the Tarcey Ullman version of My Girl” Brendan Bobby
“Great to see the orchestra, not convinced David Arnold’s input was ground breaking. Folgate being orchestrated & the musical aiding los palmas and one better day.”
Chris Carter Pegg.
“Enjoyed the orchestra but didn’t make it that different to a normal gig” – Tony Baker
“40 years and for me 50 gigs.
Madness still the b*llocks” David Searle
“Don’t mean to be boring but getting out was a massive health and safety issue.” (The next day the Sunday concert was cancelled) -Sarah Davis
Our thanks to all the fans quoted who were in akendance. It wasn’t like any other Madness gig. The sense of occasion that the heritage house bought, being local to their old manner, and the grandeur of the orchestra being a special upscaled band, made it all feel fitting of a gala birthday party.
Even mega star stage invader Liam Gallengher called it a top night. Well he said more words than that but as most were sweary they would stick this MIS in a work’s email spam filter (wouldn’t they Darren) if we quoted him further. So we wont say anymore about the Kenunt.
As for my two kenneth’s worth of opinion.
I was wowed.
Time and again a wide smile made by little moments of music I had never heard presented in this way Before.
They came bleeding through all the noise on offer and into my ears sporadically. It was unique and special for that reason, and inspiring more uniquely than any other Madness gig, as it was a much sort after “difference” for die hard regular gig attending Madness fans to witness.
The strings came across the clearest on little sections of the songs and with quieter tunes like “One Better Day” I found myself playing conductor as I focussed attention on different parts of the orchestra at work and this was at times a blissful new way to enjoy a Madness gig. At other points the gig was standard for a madness concert.
I couldn’t hear the orchestra on the night as well as I would wish though. Let’s blame my ageing ears first up for that fact.
It also felt to me Madness needing to be forward of stage made them and the drumming louder than usual to me during the first half of the gig I spent at the front. Mez’s extra percussion I definitely was enjoying much closer to my ears than it was at the last tour, and so I was hearing that stuff a lot clearer than ever before, which was nice and many a chimes moment jingled into my lugholes.
Sax and vocals and band in general were fine, it sounded good as general gigs do.
How much of a tricky balance it must be to stage 50+ musicians and capture all that well onto a days film making process whilst simultaneously conveying all of those instruments to every area of the attending audience, I have not the first idea of that complexity. Bedders even said “that’s the challenge” with something like this.
The Orchestra at times despite so many varied instruments were very subtle backing to Madness live arrangements of songs, that they know well. Rather than any booming dominance taking over any song or featuring that often as focussed solos within the days sound (Except that is on opening track Norton Folgate where such moments exists on record, or where some string sections are very present on Madness records too.)
That’s a stylistic choice, and quite a safe choice to make with the short rehearsal time available into staging an effective day. So at times the orchestra was most audible on crescendo end points of songs mightily beefed to a loud stop, or subtle strings during solos were beautiful occasionally like NW5 . The woodwind made it’s most forefrontal appearance on Folgate during certain sections. I came away thankful to have witnessed this first time of a hybrid of Madness backed with an orchestra, it gave so many little moments, but I was a bit lost in dreams that I wished to hear orchestrated Madness music soar.
The Norton Folgate of the Hackney orchestra pit, the acoustics of the Albert Hall with just the band for One Better Day are both examples that gave me memories like that all greater than Ken managed. I would perhaps prefer a solo orchestra to bring Madness tunes to life with gusto one day. There is one tune I treasure most from today. Surprising me beyond my expectations Mr Bond.
I also would have loved to experience gig’s as special as this, without the swearing, the loud obnoxious pushing of fan’s fighting in the crowd also, and sadly Kenwood once again had far too much hustle and bustle from behaviourally subnormal idiots. From security men jumping the barrier, their job being made harder, to the noise and gesturing even the nice helpful fans make in sorting out the fools, it all spoilt the focus for a few seconds here and there, what a shame, even though my skills for zoning out such nonsense are more highly attuned than ever, sober and attentive on this day to take in all the hard work laid before us. Felt it a greater shame than usual that when there is so many making noise for us on a varied instrument set that some people spend all their time making their own. I’ve never longed for a seated sober attentive Madness gig more than I did during a few spoiled moments at Kenwood. Madness gigs aren’t a polite clapping “well done chaps” environment though so it’s the usual intact fun of boisterous jostling, as at any other Madness concert.
With a set list that could never please all orchestra dream tracks, but included some really great choices. Folgate, One Better Day and NW5 ticking the deeply desired “they must surely” box. My Girl, Our House & It Must Be Love all expected no brainers too to be given to the string players. Inspired Los Palmas and Lovestruck made much more of these Madness songs. Unexpected rising return was Lennon’s “Oh My Love” bringing quiet beauty. Added to this was the more surprising suitability of “Shut Up” that beefed up really nicely, as I moved to a central crowd position to take in the wider sound coming from the speakers.
I’m really really surprised then that my favourite orchestrated tune was “In My Street”.
Ken’s House isn’t really in anyone’s street after all, it’s here on the heath near where 40 years ago Madness emerged growing up together. Surely “Our House” would fit majestically today and would take my top spot for it’s stunning string section we know from various record mixes. That would be the homely moment?
Surely my love of “One Better Day” returning, something I’ve longed for for ages even without an orchestra would grab my heart strings like it has so many times before (It nearly did, it was truly beautiful). Perhaps we should have expected Folgate’s epic rendition now beefed up with so many classical instruments and 10 minutes to play with would be enhanced by David Arnold and become an increased masterpiece now beyond the mad one we already know it to be. 10 years on from the albums release? Myself proudly wearing its T shirt. But strangely not.
The orchestration arrangement all very respectful and fitted to Madness’ live sound arrangements to not overshadow the band, who were now nearer front of stage and a bit louder therefore than usual. These songs were great on the night. But they are great every night of a great Madness concert. At over hundred gigs I’ve heard and enjoyed them deeply and remember and treasure the times in equally measure to the night an orchestra joined in.
It was “In my Street” I found most Up my Street.
You see “In my Street” is a relatively new tune. It’s troubled birth at an under rehearsed HOF Friday, improved a little over a good Christmas tour, rising up to the occasion of airing on New Year TV quite well, but still a rather plodding affair, a poor-man’s our house in an Ian Dury list type song. Until Kenwood transformed it.
It being a new song, It sounded like Suggs and David Arnold re-wrote this one, and bonded together bombastically improving the tune with whole new lyric middle eight section, darker and dramatic and Suggs began belting that out to the back of
the crowd. Even the band slightly transfixed with this newer direction for a Madness song getting it’s first airing reborn. The same way Powder Blue and Powder Blue (Reprise) are recognisable not wholly the same song, this was a brand new street.
The tune came alive and went somewhere no other tune has quite gone for the band, like a more angrier grey day, or a grittier “something tells you that you’ve got to get away from it” part as Suggs delivered the sharp line “Sometimes Things change and it’s All in your mind.” shouting like he does now at gigs, which doesn’t suit some hits he over belts now, but it suited to this one because it was written to be bellowed largely. It was the moment a gig as big as this, in a year as big as this, with a band as large as this needed. It made my day. The rest of the classic Madness tunes with spine tingling moments and unique delights, from live reeded instruments on Folgate to beautiful intro to My Girl were very special, rightly praised by many fans, but on the whole those songs didn’t take my breath away like this brand new surprising Madness moment did. XLent now Madness.
Though. You know. Pussey Galore. New Thommo Song. You had David Arnold! You didn’t Bond up a new song named after a bond character! Missed a trick lads! Ha ha ha ha.
I’ve dreamed of Orchestrated Madness, for a while. Kenwood didn’t match all those dreams, but the day made some of them come true for sure. Wouldn’t have wanted to spend time with any other Ken. You may say I’m a dreamer. (You may happily rant I’m talken total kenrap) But oh my love, like the Lennon buskers of this world, I’m not the only one.
Because I’m still dreaming. I’m thrilled that something as special with such joint effort as Kenwood House Madness XL has happened and been so extensively filmed.
What surround sound quality may have been captured? We all witnessed that film being made. An overhead camera on zipwire, on stage crane arms roamed into the visual display of all this taking place and front of stage double tracked digi operators, with a full sound crew at work with extra monitor men involved in proceedings onstage.
Ken we please watch it aken? With playback, mixed from isolated audio channels, with visual direction bringing us ever closer to some of the players in action. Made into something we ken keep and ever closer ken what the music was.
I need more. Kencore. I scream. Kencore!!!!!
A group of dedicated fans is at the front of the gig, singing out their hearts “Happy Birthday Madness” to one of the film cameras. Yes. That. Perfect. What a day. Happy Birthday Madness.
“Fireworks? Really?” – Mandy Raymond
“Saving night boat to last. A fitting end.” Ray smith
We have seen and now we all Know. Now we all Ken.
That was Kenwood house. Our House, and it was Kenplete Madness.
The 40th anniversary XL year continues…
Jonathan K Young.
Kenwood House – A Review
Saturday night was amazing performance-wise other issues tainted it slightly but you can’t have it all ways.
We travelled down from Lincoln earlier in the day and decided to cross the Heath from Archway to get to the show. We came round the back of the performance area and assumed we were close to being there ourselves. Wrong. Once we got to the entrance on the road it was like the line in Norton Folgate – “A dark river of people”! The queue was so long we couldn’t see the end!
No matter. Once we got in (having missed Chris Gifford) we looked for a spot to stand. The bar was chaotic (and pricey by all accounts) so we settled on a spot to the side of the VIP area. What a great move. Apart from the Heras fencing our view wasn’t bad at all. Couldn’t really see the orchestra but we were so close to a big screen it didn’t matter. We could see the stage very well and were spoilt by Thommo making regular jaunts over to where we were. This meant we were only about 12 feet from him when he did his solo in Embarrassment!
That, coupled with hearing LONF and One Better Day live for the first time made the gig memorable, but the whole night was so special. I could feel myself getting emotional several times. The choice of songs was very good too.
Having seen them numerous times over the years in different parts of the country I’d said that I’d only go to see them this year if they did something special. And I was disappointed. We were back on the road again first thing Sunday, so only spent about 20 hours in London (and a fair bit of money!), but it was well worth it.
Having seen them in my home town, at Madstock 92 and now this I can’t see how they can top that.
We’re almost at the end of another issue, but before we go there’s one or two small snippets to pass in your general direction.
First-up, and the band report that the recording of the Kenwood concert has gone well. As yet there is no news regarding a potential release. If / when a TV channel decide to air the show or it’s made available on DVD / Blu Ray we will of course let you know.
We understand that rights negotiations for “Oh my Love” are ongoing.
And finally, we received a short message from subscriber Stephan Wöss who suggested these guys might be the Austrian answer to Madness. We’re not sure sure, but feel free to make up your own minds: