Suggs has lined up dates for a new spoken word tour in 2018 and tickets are on sale now!
We bring you more details on this show, from Stereoboard and the St. Albans Theatre press release (that’s the second date and the one we’ll be attending for an MIS review). You can find all the dates in our Showtime section, starting the end of January 2018 through to March in this first run.
Due to popular demand, after his first tour My Life Story, Suggs is set to tread the boards again with his new spoken word show entitled:
“What A King Cnut – A Life In The Realm Of Madness”
It will see the vocalist and songwriter tell stories about life within the legendary ska-pop band.
If the first show was about how on Earth he got there, Suggs: What a King Cnut is about the surprises that awaited him when he did.
Vertigo on the roof of Buckingham Palace. Nearly blowing the closing ceremony of the Olympics. Watching his underpants fall to earth on Bowie’s driveway.
Things have gone a smidge surreal since the Madness frontman was a twelve year old in shorts on the tough streets of North London.
Constantly expecting that inevitable tap on the shoulder to hear ‘what are you doing here, Sunshine?’ how has he got this far? In this business, you can be washed up at any minute. How has he managed to get away with it for so long?
Fame is a tightrope and Suggs has fallen off many times.
But for all the near-death experiences he takes great solace in the words of the Greek philosopher, Blondie:
‘The tide is high, but I’m holding on…’
Also, in this issue of the MIS we bring you a download of Lee Thompson’s amazing Acoustic all Stars gig, and review the show, along with a full feature review of the early edit of his film One Man’s Madness. This is on sale now, with DVDs due to ship on the 1st of December.
Hi everyone, thanks so much for your support – it’s great to have finally reached the target and get to 100%. We’re keeping the store open for a few more weeks whilst we get all the production in place, we’ll have another update for you soon with dates for when you can expect your goodies.
Available to Pre Order now from Madness.co.uk & Pledge music.
Welcome to Full House – The Very Best Of Madness, a brand new compilation from the UK’s favourite band.
Encompassing the length and breadth of their stellar career, ‘Full House’ captures the legendary British pop band’s much-loved recorded output to date. Since the release of their last best-of in 2012, Madness’ phenomenal career has continued to go from strength-to-strength with the release of the critically acclaimed, top 5 album ‘Can’t Touch Us Now’ and the top 10 charting, gold selling ‘Oui Oui, Si Si, Ja Ja, Da Da’. Containing hit singles from both of those albums, and unfolding largely in chronological order, ‘Full House’ is a best of and then some, featuring 42 of the songs that have made Madness one of the nation’s best loved bands. Kicking off with 1979’s ‘The Prince’ and wrapping with 2017’s ‘Another Version Of Me’, the album takes in bona-fide classics such as ‘Our House’, ‘Night Boat To Cairo’, ‘It Must Be Love’ and ‘Can’t Touch Us Now’ along the way.
Madness say: ‘‘It’s nearly that time of year but Wot no Madness Xmas tour?! We wouldn’t want you or your loved ones to miss out on your yearly fix so here’s our promise to you -Full House, 42 of our greatest hits to fill those stockings with this festive season.’’
The Nutty Boys’ huge appeal continues to cut across the generations, with new fans discovering their life-affirming back catalogue all the time. ‘House of Common’, their annual family-friendly alternative to Carnival is fast establishing itself as a must on the festival circuit, their legendary ‘House Of Fun’ Weekender (November 17-20th) goes from strength-to-strength and recent knock-out performances everywhere from Glastonbury to Boomtown, V Festival to Bestival reinforce their unrivalled reputation as one of Britain’s greatest and most enduring live acts.
Artwork for ‘Full House’ is by the inimitable Paul Agar, whose cut-and-paste collage style has become synonymous with Madness’ recent work and will be instantly recognisable from his work on ‘Can’t Touch Us Now’ and ‘The Liberty Of Norton Folgate’. The 4LP version also features a special pop-up gatefold mechanism that’s sure to make it a must have for fans and collectors alike.
A comprehensive compilation that perfectly captures the national treasures’ career to date, ‘Full House’ will appeal to fans old and new as Madness prepare to embark on the next stage of a career that has rewritten the rulebook and continually defied all preconceptions.
Full House will be released on November 17.
Please note: Orders are not part shipped so if wish to order catalogue music and you would like it shipped before 17th November we recommend you place separate orders. Unfortunately this item cannot be shipped to North America
1. The Prince
2. One Step Beyond
3. My Girl
4. Bed And Breakfast Man
5. Night Boat To Cairo
7. Baggy Trousers
9. The Return Of The Los Palmas 7
10. Grey Day
11. Shut Up
12. It Must Be Love
13. Cardiac Arrest
14. House Of Fun
15. Driving In My Car
16. Our House
17. Tomorrow’s (Just Another Day)
18. Wings Of A Dove
19. The Sun And The Rain
20. Michael Caine
21. One Better Day
22. Uncle Sam
23. Yesterday’s Men
24. (Waiting For) The Ghost Train
25. Sarah’s Song
27. Johnny The Horse
28. Drip Fed Fred
29. Simple Equation
30. Girl Why Don’t You
32. Dust Devil
33. Forever Young
34. Sugar And Spice
35. My Girl 2
36. Never Knew Your Name
37. How Can I Tell You?
39. La Luna
40. Mr. Apples
41. Can’t Touch Us Now
42. Another Version Of Me
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 years, 10 and 15 years ago this week.
5 years ago…
Issue Number 701 – Sunday 14th October – Saturday 20th October 2012
The release of the “Oui, Oui” album got ever close, and this week we’d finally had a chance to see the packaging design when a nice signed copy was waved under our nose on Thursday by a Madness manager… who cruelly didn’t let us keep it.
Thankfully, Cooking Vinyl also posted a picture on their facebook page, so we were able to share the image with the rest of the MIS subscription list. The forthcoming release was a digipack design, like the recent re-releases, but sturdy, and we were shown a teaser of a nicely printed booklet, with lyrics, new photos and info.
On the Friday before this issue went out the band were busy filming a TV advert for the album, which we expected to see on Madtube as well as television stations across the UK shortly.
We kicked off our articles with a massive contribution from Vince Carden, Sharon Staite, and our own Jonathan Young. The three had been lucky enough to catch Madness live from the BBC Radio Theatre in London, in concert, presented by Jo Wylie.
Of the gig and his feelings on the new songs Vince Carden commented;
“It’s the quickest I have ever heard them nail new stuff live. Thommo deserves credit for winding up the BBC staff security by bringing a random bloke on stage to harmlessly dance to his hearts content.
Never knew your name and How Can I Tell you, got the sort of reactions as if to say “Wow i thought your new stuff would be cack but that was unusually good” and also both songs reinforced my opinion that it is the first Madness album since Rise and fall with two obvious singles.
If the management ever read MIS i would beg that they don’t add these tunes to the list of missed opportunities since 1999. Even the ladies will like Never knew your name, maybe even those that ran past Suggs in his Duran Duran story would stop. Disco with and element of melancholy to put aside any accusation of cheesiness.”
We moved over to an excerpt from the BBC Radio Times and a heads-up that the band would be performing on Later With Jools Holland on Tuesday 16th October, and then repeated on Friday night. Time to set those set-top boxes or simply hope that someone would rip the performance and upload it to YouTube!
Following this, we passed the writing duties over to the French MIS, who confirmed that Never New Your Name was being played on radio station Out FM. They also commented that My Girl II was being played on RTBF and Classic 21 radio stations, too.
The French MIS signed off by telling us that the band were rumoured to be appearing in the new year on the French TV channel Tarattattata.
Elsewhere in this issue we took a massive in-depth look at the long awaited issue 13 of Ian Taylor’s Mad Not Mad fanzine. It’d been a very long time coming, and Ian commented that although he’d picked the zine back up again, he didn’t know how long how long for. It could be for one issue, five issues or 23 years.
We rounded off our review by stating;
“This latest issue of Mad Not Mad is a fantastic read, and it’s really worth ordering yourself a copy.”
Towards the end of this issue it was over to Paul Rodgers for another one of his legendary Madness Stats, Facts and Figures articles. With no Madness albums in the top 100, and no sign of the My Girl 2 single making any sort of impact it was nice to see that pre orders for the forthcoming album were looking promising;
“In terms of pre-order charts the album is starting to make serious headway at several of the main online dealers. In terms of cumulative pre-orders the album rose from 20 to 17 at Amazon.co.uk last week and is poised just outside their top 100 CD chart. At play.com the disc is gaining strongly after a slow start. It currently sits at number 38 amongst their pre-orders and is climbing a place or two per day having been in the mid 40s before the weekend.
With magazine features and reviews to come, TV appearances and promotion about to really kick in the album is creating quite a buzz. Cooking Vinyl have ‘Blaked’ up their website (although it is a shame they’ve spelt the album title ‘Ya Ya’ instead of ‘Ja Ja’ on their news page and ignored my reports of this error to them). They’ve also leaked a preview of the CD’s packaging on their Facebook page and look set to push the album. All that’s left is for us lot to buy it.
We know Madness are no longer a singles band and most have always had faith in them as an albums act. On Sunday 4 November we should see Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da enter the charts at a position higher than the number 5 peak of The Liberty Of Norton Folgate. The question is can they achieve that elusive number one studio album? It wouldn’t surprise me one little bit.”
We brought this issue to a close with a full transcript of the lyrics to “How Can I Tell You?”.
10 years ago…
Issue number 441 – Sun 14th October – Sat 20th October 2007
If you were planning to vote for Madness in the 2007 Festival Awards you only had two weeks left until the results were announced. You could help your favourite band to reach the top by simply visiting the web site and casting your vote.
Madness were up against the following bands/artists:
Happy Mondays, Kanye West, Marley Brothers, Motley Crue, Sea Sick Steve, Shirley Bassey, The Cuban Brothers, The Levellers and Tinariwen
Next, and we reported that a new best of album featuring Jool Holland’s best collaborations was now out, entitled “Best of Friends”.
Moving on… It was a rare occasion to see Madness get slated by a celebrity in a public media of any kind, so it came as a shock when it happened.
In the past the NME or music journalists may have written negatively about the band, and maybe other bands might have had the odd dig over the years too. But it was a comedian, and one much loved by many people in UK, that took a swipe at the band and shocked me last week.
Steve Coogan’s anti-Madness rant, came out of nowhere and kicked co-editor Jon Young as only an unexpected attack could. The abuse appeared on Steve’s “Saxondale” DVD, where he described the band as “utter sh*t”.
Jonathan was not amused.
15 years ago…
Issue number 179 – Sun 13th October – Sat 19th October 2002
With an absolutely manic week, and our mailbox flooded with masses of Madness news, issue 179 proved to be one that was absolutely packed.
The week saw not only the start of the much-anticipated Madness musical, but the lads (minus a certain Mr. Thompson) also appeared on BBC TV chat show ‘Parkinson’, where they aired two tracks. Those who missed it were urged not to get too excited, as no new material was played.
Elsewhere, and it was time to move, as the Total Madness Mailing List moved from their previous host, over to CoolList. All TMML subscribers would receive an email to let them know that the move had taken place, and letting them know that they were now signed-up to the new host.
Always keen to hear about the goings-on down in the land of the rising sun, we were very excited when MIS subscriber Satoko Koyama emailed in to tell us that in Japan there was a big Madness, ska and 2-tone following. Armed with a few links she kindly passed on to us, we took a look at some of Japan’s ska bands, and suggested a few sites that fellow subscribers may want to take a look at.
If the recently re-vamped official Madness site left fans wanting more, then the news that the BBC had created an entire microsite, dedicated to North London’s finest should have been enough to keep even the most hardened fan happy. Designed to coincide with the Top of The Pops 2 TV series, the site featured facts, rare clips, rare photos, and wallpapers for your computer.
One of the largest articles in this issue, was a fantastic interview with Our House musical writer, Tim Firth, who explained why he leapt at the chance of writing a musical based on the hits of Madness. We also discovered that a limited edition promo CD sampler had been released to coincide with the launch of the musical.
Featuring Sarah’s Song, Our House, and Baggy Trousers, in a unique custom card sleeve, this would no doubt be an item that the collectors out there would want to get their hands on.
This issue also featured a heart-warming article from subscriber Rob Wardlaw, who, after 22 years of being a Madness fan, finally met his heroes, and had nothing but glowing words to say about his encounter.
We finished off this issue with a competition, courtesy of Tour Madness editor, Jermaine, who had kindly offered seven sampler issues up for grabs. To be in with a chance of winning, you simply had to email in a list of the rumoured special features that the forthcoming Divine Madness DVD was supposed to have.
Lee Thompson’s One Man’s Madness Movie – Rough Cut Review
“Brilliant. Get home from the pub, pop in this DVD.” Gordy Davidson
The much-awaited film project “Lee Thompson’s One Man’s Madness”, screened at the start of October at Dingwalls in Camden.
The premise of this film, billed uniquely as a Rockumockumentary was known to some of those attending from a 20 minute preview shown at Butlin’s Minehead to much acclaim amongst fans of Lee and the band a couple of years ago now, as well as a couple of online photos and trailer previews the pledge campaign has shown to those investing in the various DVD and merchandise options available. The film was said to now be 95% complete. The only talk of additions to it were the now removed possibility of a pledge option to star in a small part in the film for a large investment sum which has been taken up by one investor, and also there was talk of the desire to add Jerry Dammers and/or Robert Elms into the talking heads if at all possible at this final hour of production.
The Dingwalls venue screening from a laptop onto a large screen and a couple of TV’s at the back of the bar room, wasn’t without the odd hiccup, we started with poor sound due to two files being played at once, this quickly rectified, but later the film entered screen-saver mode and knocked itself off the desktop and had to be rewound slightly and put back to full frame. This tiny kerfuffle aside it aired to an attentive room in the matinee garnering a bunch of big laughs. Mike Barson attended the evening showing which was said to go even better, as both he and his mother appear in the film alongside the rest of the band, he was laughing all the more with fans. The whole thing was a lovely event and a mixture of interesting takes on the life of Lee, coupled with wonderfully eccentric pratting about on film taking the piss.
The film has a central concept of playing with Sound and Vision. Director Jeff Baynes came up with the idea and pitched this to Thommo, and freely admitted in the Q&A’s to lifting it from an art film he saw and his genius here is in applying it uniquely to Thommo. So what you see, as the trailers show, is a talking head documentary the type you usually see on BBC4, with the voice of many REAL people telling their experiences of living with Lee and his band, and Lee’s song writing analysed too. All of this happens in SOUND while in VISION you get Lee Thompson’s comedic portrayal of the speaking characters lip-syncing along, With much comedic send up. While the rest of Madness appear as themselves in full for contrast against this pallet of characters. With illustrative footage of things being talking about taken from Take it or leave it, pop videos, live gigs, and more. Its the Madness story you know in many ways at times, but a unique take on it too. The interviews are all brand new ones of this film. Including Chas, who seems added now since the first version draft footage of this movie was shown, and his appearance backed by an aquarium scene caused a palpable inhale of breath from the audience to see this absent member back in a Madness related project.
The range of characters in interviews includes Lee’s wife and sister (performed in vision by Lee in drag), The band managers (one in a crooks mask), and accountants, lawyers, musicologists. Lynval and Neville appear from The Specials, and a few more besides. One particular highlight is an opera singer who gives some of Lee’s lyrics and songs a highbrow very well sung gravitas twist. We even get a psychologist explaining Lee’ ADHD condition and this scene, plus Dave Robinson’s old anecdote about how Lee would always try and scene steal during Top of the Pops, sums up the film. The attention to detail in the green screen work, allow’s Lee to milk laughs and give a second level to the people speaking about him, It’s a to and fro-ing as people tell it like they find it with Lee, and he gives back in how much he ponces about on screen as them, and what he chose to see in them to latch onto for laughs. The fact he hadn’t shaved for most of the women characters is damning enough in his Dick Emery inspired comedy takes. Then a further source of laughs comes from him stealing the background countless times too from himself. Such is the lack of respect for the documentary waffling on, Lee as himself is there doing something else, switched off to it all. The funniest example may be the frogman or the pole dancing builder. All this assures a DVD you will want to watch again, more than once, even if it’s just background noise when you are bored of it, it can play in the background for amusement again and again like a daft screen saver itself.
Some great old photo’s of early Lee at the start too but if the film has limitations, and it does, the over use of pop videos and take it or leave it footage re-purposed that we’ve seen again and again from the band heyday push it back down to the level of just a clever youtube video rather than a TV presentation film at times. There aren’t enough tricks, with old discovered or sort out rarer archive footage in the middle of the story, though it’s nice to see Butlins footage bring the story of the band up to date, as we look at not just the man who wrote The Prince and Embarrassment, as we have many times through years of impressiveness, we also look at the man who has just completed Whistle in the dark too with Madness, and this nicely shows us there is more glory to come from the Thompson cannon.
In conclusion, it’s a brilliant film. Treads similar ground as most other Madness histories, from Suggs’ One Man Show, to the Young Guns documentary, but nicely focuses on Lee, certain Lee song writing, and a few other people you don’t normally hear from like Colin young (accountant) the bands Lawyer and Lee’s family, and so holds it’s ground against all other versions just enough.
The whole time the documentary isn’t really the point its more an exploration of Lee’s comedic and artistic/musical muse played out like the fast show. Conceptually the mockumentary is the central pillar of this and though that gets a bit samey as the minutes continue to pass, it does twists nicely the concept at the end in a couple of ways I won’t spoil. As lee has one more trick up his sleeve, as a true mischievous soul would have. If you want to see what that ending is. Buy the DVD now while the pledge campaign is still live.
The highlight is Pat Barson performed by Lee talking about his early days. Glasses on the end of the nose, telling us all… That Lee Thompson – “What a naughty boy”
It’s due December 1st on DVD we are told at the Q and A and it’s heading to the BFI no less for this complete cut screening.
“The film us fans have always wanted” Iain Mason
Sign of the Times
Darren Bennett on Trojan
Hello, I’m Trojan Records selector of the month for their Spotify playlist.
5 tunes are my choice on there, and another 5 were added on Friday and continue to be so on until next month when the lovely Madam Scorcher takes it over….quite an honour.
WW2 Treasure Hunters: 5 surprising revelations
Suggs and militaria expert Stephen Taylor uncover forgotten stories of World War as they play amateur detectorists.
WW2 Treasure Hunters is History’s (BT TV channel 327) fascinating new documentary series, which explores forgotten stories and secrets of the Home Front.
Madness singer Suggs and militaria expert Stephen Taylor have unearthed incredible artifacts from former military sites around the UK and the latest cutting-edge technology and extensive WW2 archives allows them to investigate the incredible stories behind some of their discoveries.
The show mixes gripping digs of former airfields, POW camps and barracks and moving stories from survivors, experts and historians about the relics they find along the way.
Here are five surprising revelations from WW2 Treasure Hunters.
Our thanks go to Mark Robinson for passing the above in our general direction.
One Man’s Madness Film, Q&A and Lee Thompson All Stars Set
I travelled to Camden to see Lee Thompson’s One Man’s Madness film, Q&A and the Lee Thompson All Stars at Dingwall’s.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I knew it would blinding day out, and sure it was.
I’ve not been downstairs in Dingwall’s for years, the first thing I noticed the entrance had moved and so had the toilets, so I followed people with Madness T-Shirts and jackets and joined the queue!
Inside it was busy, I couldn’t believe the number of people there.
There was a large projector screen on the stage mirrored by a few TV’s dotted around the venue cycling through various photos of Lee.
Lots of familiar and famous faces about too, some of them I have not seen for years, I can’t name check them all otherwise I’d be here for ever. Honourable mention to Spider Johnson who came along.
At around 2.10pm the film began, by then all the seats had gone so I stood at the back at the bar near one of the TV monitors and I could see stage as well.
I was also stood next to one of Jeff’s assistants who was taking notes about the film, I thought he was reporter at first.
As the film started, I heard a voice next to me saying ‘Who is that reprobate?!!’ It was only Lee!
The film, well I’m sure you have all seen the snippets, it’s basically about Lee’s journey through life with Madness and the odd snippet of Take it or Leave it thrown in with Lee miming the voices of various people connected to the band, and some not so – like a music expert and an opera singer!
I really thought Pat Barson (Mike’s mum) was brilliant, she didn’t take any prisoners and had the crowd in stitches!
I also liked the musicologist Neil Brand (I thought it was Rick Rodgers of Specials fame at first), oddly enough in the 2nd Q&A Lee also said Pat and Neil were amongst his favourites.
I’m not going to give any spoilers, but as the film progressed funnies were thrown in the background, it also had a wonderful ending.
The 90 minutes flew by, I couldn’t help thinking there could be more but it was just right.
Soon after it was the afternoon Q&A session with Jeff Baines and Lee, with Ian Snowball (who was the compere for the day).
On the day it was very difficult to hear the Q&A session, but you can listen to the Q&A and the evening session by the following the bottom.
Next up were the ‘Lee Thompson All-Stars’ an acoustic set comprising of Nick on banjo, Ned on acoustic guitar and Daley Thompson on drums (from the Silencerz).
Mike Kearsey on muted trombone, Louis Vause on accordion (TLTSO) and Lee J on sax and vocals.
Mike had to leave after the set due to family commitments so didn’t make the evening gig.
To be honest, I hadn’t clue what they would be playing so I was looking forward to it.
I was stood with our very own Jon Young and we sort of agreed old classics, like Baggy T’s, Bangarang, Magic Carpet as the set would consist of Madness, LTSO, and Crunch songs. Obviously I was wrong as Lee had dug down deep into the archive.
First up was Razor Blade Alley as you’ve never heard before, A Parisian Jazz club feeling springs to mind!
Second up was ‘Wickerman’ a tune from the Bite The Bullet album, Lee encourages people join in at the end!
Next was a real rarity not played live before I think, a Crunch tune ‘Raindance’ within the first bar I recognized it, I really couldn’t believe they were playing it!
Then a tune from the Nassau ‘7’ album expedition- ‘Benny Bullfrog’ a firm fans favourite, with an explanation from Lee himself what the song was all about! Went down a storm, also lost co-mis editor Jon Young in the rush to the stage!
‘Boy in the Box’ next or ‘The Boy in the Chicken Box’ as Lee jests. Again, another unreleased Crunch song. During the intro Lee promises Spider Johnson and Louis Vause they would record it one day ( we hope!).
Next up, a proper Madness treat, Drip Fed Fred. Not played that often but given a real feel by Lee. Amazing.
Last up was another Crunch demo track dug up from the archives; ‘Going Solo’. Oddly enough it was playing in the background when I arrived at 1.30pm, nahh.. I thought they’d never play that! It really is a great song, but with the acoustic treatment it sounded blinding.
Well, I hope the Lee Thompson All Stars make an appearance again, who knows?
PS: I found out the ‘old’ entrance is now fire doors, and the men’s toilets was a storage room.
PSS: MIS last visited Dingwalls in 1999 upstairs for the Lovestruck promo gig on the canal barge.. that’s another story!
You can still pledge for the project now at 121% at time of press.
“A Performance” was always listed as part of the entertainment that Lee would be providing at the Dingwalls film screening day events. After the film screening and Q and A’s had taken place. Very few details were released though as to what that gig might be. With The Ska Orchestra on hiatus after their successful second album, and the dust covers back over Crunch! again it was looking more likely Daley’s band The Silencerz’s might be called upon to perform at the event maybe.
Nearer time though the pledge page changed to “The Lee Thompson All Stars” and yet another band name for the band whore was born. It was a band name rather reminiscent of Terry Edwards All Stars gigs that used to take place at the Dublin Castle. Equally, it was likely to include usual suspects from Lee’s circles, it was sounding a bit more special though as “songs across Lee’s career” was in the gig blurb now. This was to be a unique celebration.
In the end we got a line up that was unique in not just known faces teaming up from other Lee bands, but in the choice of acoustic instruments and eclectic and rare song choices from across Lee’s wide songwriting career. I think we had been expecting The Prince & maybe Fu Man Chu to be played. Songs Lee is widely known for, instead in the presence of this crowd of real dedicated Lee fans we got treated to extreme rarities from his live work over the years, but still some that this crowd considered classics too. You got a real sense from the banter these were much loved songs Lee picked, as well as very suited to the style of play tonight.
The line up then saw Daley return to drums for the first time since Like Father Like Son band ended but a very acoustic brushes set up of percussion. Louis Vause was there an ever faithful return for this Crunch! and LTSO member, but on this occasion on accordion (see also Grand Pantalon by Madness). Ned and Nick from The Silencerz are here, but Banjo and acoustic guitar replace guitar/electric bass tonight. Mike Kearsey is present from Madness brass monkeys (during the matinee only), but his trombone is muted at the end for a more jazz approach to fit in with the rest of the band.
Razor Blade Alley was first up delightful slow and familiar from his One Step beginnings, this song kicked things off nicely it’s already pretty basic a tune, but here it nicely lilted.
Wicker man next is the one from the second LSTO album that Lee wrote, and performed powerfully in this stripped-down setting. So we get the beginning and probably the most recent penned Thommo tune to start us off, showing the range.
Then we are gobsmacked with Raindance an extremely rare Crunch! song or Nutty Boys as they might have been called last time this track was ever played in the 90’s It’s a slow and haunting number and now to hear it acoustic was so fitting and mesmerising, as slow penned Thommo songs are more of a minority. We are here visiting the quality of song Thommo was still writing just as Madness ended and petered out beyond it’s THE prefix death rattle. How good this tune is, shows how robbed we were to lose Madness for a few years while Thompson song writing was so maturing at the time. Next up is something more bouncy and a real treat.
Benny Bullfrog (not played by Madness since the 80s) hops up to the plate, wow, Thommo on sax and vocals. Reading off a lyric sheet but hitting every word and burp! Louis ska rhythm jaunt on the accordion is amazing. The slightly slower mode of songs like this tonight that are Lee lyric heavy is a joy, as he enunciates words I’ve never caught properly in years of listening.
Boy in the box is another unreleased Crunch! tune but this far more widely heard at gigs and known amongst hardcore nutty boys/crunch fans as a favourite tune from the bands second batch of writing that never reached an oh so long awaited album.
Drip Fed Fred achieved the biggest heartfelt sing a long to much loved Ian Dury (who had been seen briefly in the film.) The only Madness single in the set, the most famous track to this audience as a whole and yet still a tune Madness themselves haven’t revisited live for over a decade. The fact the evening audience sang “we want Barso for our leader” will have hopefully made Mike want to put it into Jamboree bag or a future Madness gig.
Going Solo ends the short but incredibly delightful presentation of these Thommo written tunes. A crunch live favourite that even Suggs has tried to steal unsuccessfully in the past.
I urge anyone who wasn’t there to listen again to this concert online at The Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra Website.
Thommo has always had time for fans and stayed to chat to all and sign items afterwards. It’s just a little bit of a shame, on such a great day to report that the VIP area wasn’t better policed for correct seating and VIP ticket holders weren’t’ given a better audience with experience than they received along with everyone. Paying the higher £40 fee, £15 more than other punters who got the same treatment as Lee was so generous and engaging all day for anyone who had waited around, everyone all mixed in together. They should have had just a little something extra for their money, or it not advertised in that way. With the evening gig selling a bit less overall, quite a few people were let back in with hand stamps for a second gig free. Which is cool. If that was you, that had that nice treatment as a bonus then why not consider buying a pledge T Shirt as a thank you for your double gig experience If your funds allow you to do so, and you think that you would like to give more back for an amazing day. It’s just a thought. It might be nice also if VIP ticket buyers names are still on the system somewhere, that any left over merchandise from the production run, perhaps an extra item or something is sent to them for their support on this day going so well, when it didn’t quite meet their expectations based on a few online comments of review since the day happened.
Otherwise it was all a truly memorable event, one of the best Lee Thompson days ever, a real privileged to celebrate this man, a few days before his 60th birthday arrived. He really is a One off Man from Madness. Bless him.
They were the all stars, but Thommo continues to shines brightest in his surroundings.
We’re almost done for this week, but in true MIS style we do have a couple of last minute bits and pieces for you.
First-up, and while we realise it’s not Madness related, we do know that many of you are big fans of Squeeze. The band’s latest album “The Knowledge” has just been released, and if you love the output of Difford and Tilbrook then this is yet another album of theirs that is well worth adding to your collection.