It’s amazing how quickly things change in the world of Madness.
Last Sunday played host to Madness’ final performance of the Summer XL tour on Bristol downs. Following that we were expecting things to quieten down until we got closer to the House of Fun Weekend. How wrong we were!
Earlier this week the band came out of the blue with the announcement that they’d gone and booked themselves in for a mini residency at the Camden Roundhouse in December under the banner of “Past, Present, Future”. If this year wasn’t already exciting enough for us fans, the fun continues right through to a week before Christmas!
The three nights the band are booked in for are Sunday, Monday and Tuesday the 15th, 16th and 17th December. See our “Showtimes” section for ticket links, but be quick. Tickets are selling fast!
These new dates weren’t the only thing we were treated to this week. Oh no. In what must go down as one of the best Madness fan freebies they’ve ever issued the band uploaded a full nigh-on half hour documentary. Starring Lee, Suggs, Chris, Bedders and Woody, the five can be seen walking from the Mornington Crescent Tube Station to the Camden Roundhouse all the while coming out with stories of days gone by and how various locations have changed over the years.
If that little lot wasn’t enough for you and you’re still after more then this week the news went out that Madness will be appearing at the Cheltenham Literary Festival on the 8th October and Lee Thompson will be appearing at “The Big One 8” on 10th November. Check out our “Showtimes” section for more information.
Now, before you go on get yourself over to YouTube and watch that mini Madness documentary if you haven’t already.
Call Parkdean Resorts Sandford direct on 01202 622513 and press 0 for reception to book tickets.
“The Music”; the new Album From Nick Woodgate
Nick’s album finally saw release on Friday 9th of August, with much excitement from the online Madness fan base if Facebook is anything to go by.
The album was initially released on Spotify, Apple Music, SoundCloud, iTunes and Amazon Music. Following this, Nick posted in an update that he’d removed the tracks from these sites and that he now plans to go the whole hog and release the album on CD!
The other great news is that Nick has continued to make the album available for your listening pleasure on his web site while he investigates going down the CD route.
You can find Nick on Twitter at @nick_woodgate, so if you like what you hear then please let him know.
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.
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 800 – Sunday 7th August to Saturday 13th September 2014
“Hey you… You are not alone” began our intro to this week’s issue. Why, because Cathal Smyth’s new web site was now live. Not only that, but he’d also uploaded the first track from his Comfortable Man solo album, meaning you could now listen to “You are not Alone”.
Also this week, Nick Woodgate revealed that the title of his solo album was to be called “Morning” and would be available for pre order from the 22nd of September.
Moving on to our regular “Sign of the Times” section we featured articles covering Carl’s forthcoming performance of his “Comfortable Man” album in full at the Wilton’s Music Hall, East London. We also re-published the announcement from the Madness Brewing Company’s Facebook page where they revealed the release of two more beers; ‘Lovestruck’, a hoppy amber ale and ‘Night Boat’, a velvety London porter. Both would be available in Morrison’s supermarkets nationwide.
Next, or own big news this week was that a team from the MIS would be going on tour. First, they’d be DJing at Specialized’s “Big One” event at Park Dean, followed the following weekend where a one-night residency in Jak’s Bar at The House of Fun Weekender, Minehead would be on the cards.
We brought this issue to a close by reminding you to check out the new Cathal Smyth web site (which is now sadly defunct).
10 years ago…
Issue 540 – Sunday 6th September – Saturday 12th September 2009
At the time this issue went out he wasn’t officially a member of the MIS team (his wishes, not ours!), but it was nice to see that he liked to keep popping in from time to time. Who were we talking about? Jonathan Young, of course.
Jonathan submitted a couple of real juicy snippets of info to get this week’s issue off to a roaring start. First-up, he congratulated the MIS team for getting the MIS URL into the official book about the band in Terry Edwards’ One Step Beyond 33 1/3rd. The URL had also been spotted on the sleeve notes of the 30th Anniversary Madness Tribute Album.
Not bad going at all.
Our articles go underway with a press release from Radio 2 who were busy promoting their coverage of the Blackpool Illuminations, which you could now catch on the BBC iPlayer.
It wasn’t just the BBC who had coverage of the band at the Northern seaside resort, as subscriber Ged Hartnett emailed in with a link to the Blackpool Gazette web site, who were hosting footage of Madness performing at the light switch-on event.
On to Shoreditch news, and regular readers would no doubt recall that we’d been casually following the efforts of Suggs and fellow campaigners as they battled against planners’ decisions to bulldoze the famous “Light Bar”.
One of Shoreditch’s most iconic buildings, the former Victorian railway power station was due to be flattened to make way for a skyscraper which would house offices, a hotel and nearly 200 private flats.
The campaign received a huge boost in February when Hackney Council extended the South Shoreditch conservation area to include The Light Bar, forcing the developers to go back to the drawing board.
This week the developers revealed an artists’ vision of how the area would now look, following the decision to keep The Light Bar.
We moved on to book news and welcomed back to book review corner Jonathan Young, this time reading “Madness – One Step Beyond (33 1/3)”, on Madness’ first album. This wasn’t a heavy heavy monster read, it was a rocksteady book. It was a delight, and an insight. Jonathan described its 172 pages in your hands like some extensive sleeve notes from heaven.
We brought this issue to a close with news of not one but two new releases. Firstly, and after 18 months of hard work, the Madness 30th Anniversary Tribute Album was now ready, and could be ordered from Amazon France, and secondly, the CD /DVD album of Total Madness was set to hit stores on the 21st of September. The advertising agency roped in to promote the release had been working hard to complete the TV commercial ready for the big day.
Issue 278 – Sunday 5th September to Saturday 11th September 2004
With 2004 being 25 years since the whole 2-Tone movement really took off, we began this issue of the MIS with a nice article from the Coventry Observer, which revealed that Coventry City Centre managers and Coventry City Council would be planning a tribute event at the Skydome Arena in late November.
Organisers were planning on scrapping the traditional city centre New Year’s Eve shindig in favour of the concert, and talks were well underway with original members of The Specials, The Beat and The Selecter to form the line up for the one-off event.
Elsewhere in this issue, and we had news from theblockheads.com, announcing re-releases of three treasured albums:
“New Boots And Panties!!” (1977)
“Do It Yourself” (1979)
Until this point in time they had never been given the full Deluxe 2 CD Edition re-issue treatment. With the full co-operation of both the Dury estate and The Blockheads, we were promised that the 2 CD sets would include bonus discs with all the non-album singles sides, as well as previously unreleased demo versions, out takes, and live versions, all retrieved from the untouched Dury tape archive.
The booklets would feature full annotation, all the lyrics, and Dury ephemera.
New Boots and Panties was scheduled for a 27th of September release, with subsequent albums coming 3 to 4 weeks later.
While all this was going on The Blockheads were about to continue their 2004 tour starting in Wolverhampton on September 16th and on to Swindon for two nights (17th and 18th). A film crew would be following the band on their upcoming concerts to capture life on the road with the band for inclusion on a DVD release for 2005. We were assured that All aspects of Blockhead life would be scrutinised and nothing would be out of bounds!
Further on in this issue we announced (courtesy of subscriber Paul Rodgers) that the episode of Eighties TV show ‘Press Gang’, featuring Suggs, was now available to buy on DVD.
For those keen to pick up a copy you’d need series 2, and the episode called ‘Friends Like These’.
We finished this week’s issue off with a massive review of MOT’s performance at The Water Rats, which took place on Thursday 2nd of September, courtesy of one Jonathan Young.
20 years ago…
Issue 16 – Sunday 5th September to Saturday 11th September 1999
We started off this week’s issue with news in from subscriber Peter Gardner, who had discovered that the next Madness single, ‘Johnny The Horse’, would (for reasons unknown to us) not be receiving a September release. The new launch date had now been moved over to Monday the 4th of October. The delay in the single single release would mean that the album would also be hit by a delay, and wouldn’t be seeing the light of day until the 18th of October.
Moving on, and we learned that on the 30th of September, the band would be attending a launch of a special Madness Doc Marten’s boot at the DM store in Covent Garden. Rumours were also circulating, revealing that on the evening of the same day a small extra special gig would be taking place at a small venue in the city. A few tickets would be made available to fans, but details weren’t available at this point in time.
News also in this issue was that the band were apparently already toying with the possibility of releasing a third single from the forthcoming ‘Wonderful’ album. Carl had apparently spoken to a fan and had explained that the next single was likely to be either ‘Drip Fed Fred’ or ‘Elysium’, which he thought sounded a bit like Michael Caine.
Further on in the issue we heard from subscriber Pete Gardner, who reported that Radio Two had now started blasting ‘Johnny The Horse’ across the airwaves. We were all hoping that the number of plays would continue to increase over the next few weeks.
Those of you who had been part of the online Madness community since the early days may remember Adrian Burns and his wonderful Madness web sites. Well, 15 years ago he was still very active in the creation of Madness web sites, and in this issue announced that his ‘Maddest Show on Earth’ pages were moving to their own domain. Along with the move would come a complete re-vamp, and Adrian asked us to be patient, as it may be some time before it was fully up and running.
We finished off this week’s issue with a nice plug for Ian Taylor’s excellent Mad Not Mad fanzine, which at a mere £1.50 per issue featuring 60 packed pages, was excellent value for money.
Bristol and Beyond in the XL Year
Last Sunday marked the 5th leg of my very own XLcelent adventure to mark
the 40th anniversary year of the “gang of North London misfits” who have had such a “profound” effect not only on me but many thousands of others who they have entertained since they “burst into our lives” in our own “personal misfit years” back in 1979.
40 years I have been honoured to be a fan of this truly great band who hold such a special place in my sometimes “cynical” heart. I arrived just as Mr Rodigan – a man who divides opinion among us fans mainly because of his somewhat “annoying” habit of interrupting the tunes he plays half way through – was taking to the stage. However, after making his introductory speech of how he was going to take us on an “evolutionary journey” of Jamaican music from Ska, Bluebeat, Lovers Rock, Reggae to Dub – with the help of an outstanding “orchestra” – very much along the lines of the 1 Jools Holland fronts these days – and some guest vocalists including Bitty McClean, Kiko Bun among them, he proceeded to provide us with what can only be described as an hour of truly “sublime” entertainment. Very much different and dare I say much more to my liking than the “mini throwback 90’s rave” he served up for his set at Clapham. In future if he keeps that format then he has very much won me over. I even thought for a moment that Suggs was going to sing with him, when he strolled out on stage and very warmly “embraced” him.
The set list for the Madness gig was the same as it has been for the majority of the gigs I have been too over the duration of the summer leg of this years tour (obviously the Kenwood House gig was the exception to this list). As usual the songs were played to the very high standards we have come to expect as fans and always get to be fair to them. Like every other fan there are songs that I would like to see different in the set, but when a band has so many great songs in their back catalogue it is impossible to “satisfy” everyone – a fact I think we will all agree on. My own personal favourite tune has appeared in the set list this tour – I refer to the “absolute beauty ” of One Better Day – in my humble opinion their finest offering, so I am extremely grateful to hear that.
My own personal “highlights” of this gig were when Suggs proceeded to go into his “education” routine only to find that Lee was “awol” when he got to delivering the “punchline” – pure comedy gold in my eyes as a person who loves the “interaction” between the 2 of them at every gig nowadays.
Got to just love Lee Thompson and the energy he gives at every gig he plays. For me its his hilarious “antics” on stage which “ignites” the passion between the band and audience every time I see them. The interaction between Lee and Suggs on stage is pure “comedy gold” in my opinion and never seizes to entertain me. Did anyone else see Thommo doing a moonie or was I suffering from some sort of delayed sunstroke after literally frying my brain in the heat of the Clapham gig.
I would say that Bullinydon Boys is my favourite over In my Street at moment from what I have heard so for. A massively relevant song now that Boris is “running the show” as Suggs so “eloquently put it.
Other highlights for me was hearing from Emma and Andy Thomas – 2 fellow fans who I met at the Kenwood House gig – that their 2 sons were going up on stage for NBTC and not only seeing Thommo, Bedders and Chrissy Boy keeping an eye on the “welfare” of the crowd on the barrier.
I have loved what the band have offered us this year too and very much look forward to what they have in store for the rest of the year. All the gigs have been great. Much as Madness are my favourite band, Paul Weller is the musician I admire most, because no disrespect to Madness, they would not have the success PW has had were they to go solo or split in anyway and too witness him sharing a stage with them at Clapham was truly a “champagne” moment finally that was the “creditability” that I have yearned for Madness getting from their musical peers – even more so than were they to win lifetime achievement award at brits.
And so the sunshine sets on the 1st two thirds of my very own XL year. I can honestly say it has been an absolute joy to behold thus far and as I pack away my hat – until I descend on that North Somerset seaside town, that over the course of the last 8 years has won a very special place in mine and many other peoples hearts, let me extend a very big hand of gratitude to those now 6 ” spotty herberts ” from North London for giving me some of the best times of my life.
(dare I say the band’s biggest fan in South Wales ! ! ! )
Sign of the Times
Lee Thompson @ The Big One 8, Sandford, November 10th
Lee Thompson Q&A and appearing with The Silencerz at The Big one 8 for Specialized at Park dean holiday camp Sandford
The Specialized ambassador and founding member of that British institution – MADNESS, El Thommo is a real asset. Hes going to be airing his brilliant movie “One Mans Madness” followed by questions and a chance to buy it if you already haven’t. Come and see true British music icon.
THE SILENCERZ FT. LEE THOMPSON
The cool reggae and ska vibes from The Silencerz will blow your socks off.
Hear great originals and some classics. Fronted by the charismatic Daley Thompson, theyll have you dancing non stop and are the perfect act for Reggae Sunday at The Big One 8!! Lee Thompson guests.
Ska icons Madness went one step beyond in a performance that had the entirety of Wolverhampton Racecourse dancing in their Baggy Trousers.
After a day of racing in the shining sun, hundreds of music fans gathered on Friday night ready to be welcomed into the House Of Fun when Madness took to the stage.
From the iconic opening lines of One Step Beyond, the London six-piece showcased their effortless showmanship that continued throughout the entirety of the hour-and-a-half set.
“Wolverhampton, you’ve come out in all shapes and sizes. All of you lovely,” vocalist Graham ‘Suggs’ McPherson gushed, as the crowd bellowed their approval.
Madness had a natural rapport with the audience
It’s safe to say many there had grown up alongside the band, and the adoration they had was matched only by the appreciation the band had for their fanbase.
Their set was a delight of songs both old and new, from the infectious My Girl through to toe-tapping ode Bullingdon and classic smash hit Driving In My Car.
But through each songs, no matter when it was released, the whole concourse could guarantee we would be treated to an upbeat, polished rendition that would have us all moving our feet.
On top of the superb execution of each song, the set was filled with humour.
From hilarious and anecdotes through to quick audience interaction, Suggs and co were showmen through and through.
One last hurrah to see us all out, the band ended on one smash hit after another with House Of Fun, Baggy Trousers, Our House and a cover of Labi Siffre’s It Must Be Love ending the night on a high.
But what is a concert without an encore? And so, to screams from the crowd, Madness treated us to one last burst of energy in the form of Prince Buster classic, the aptly named Madness, and Night Boat to Cairo.
It’s easy to see why Madness are still legends this many years on.
‘We’ve been doing this since we were spotty teenagers’ Madness review at the Downs
It’s a testament to their music that thousands headed to The Downs on a Sunday evening in full two-tone regalia complete with Fezes and fedora hats four decades since they started making music.
The crowd were already pent up and in the mood for Madness after an incredible performance from David Rodigan and the Outlook Orchestra showcasing some great Reggae and Ska hits.
It meant that when the band rocked up and belted out One Step Beyond, nobody was standing still for it.
It was their last night from their summer ‘XL’ tour which has taken in places such as Liverpool, Dublin London, Newcastle and Edinburgh and Suggs proclaimed ‘what a place to finish’.
The music seemed to convey a reflective mood, with the lead singer often comparing their songs to current goings on and issues in the world, from the ruling elite to homelessness.
For a band, in various guises and components, that has been performing for 40 years, they oozed coolness in their sharp suits and sunglasses as they rattled through hits such as “One Step Beyond”, “In My Street” and “My House”.
Madness spent a record 214 weeks in the UK singles charts during the 80s and their cultural prominence clearly showed from the audience, with hundreds clearly reliving their times during that decade.
Above a sea of bobbing Fezs and fedora hats, Madness showed what made them such a big deal so long a time ago with their mixture of fun, bouncy songs to their more thought-provoking and even sentimental tunes.
The band’s legacy and places in so many people’s hearts was highlighted with 80s nostalgia videos playing in the background to many of their songs, interposed with black and white shots of them performing, underlining their longevity as cultural icons.
As was always the case back in their heyday talking about cultural and social issues at the time, Suggs was not afraid to get political, talking about the ‘Bullingdon boys’, the group of exclusive upper-class Oxford undergraduates which have included people such as David Cameron and Boris Johnson, and that they ‘have been running the gaff for far too long’.
He also bemoaned the extent of homelessness in the country and how it could still be an issue 21st century England.
As ever it was their biggest hits that they finished the night off that got thousands dancing away on The Downs, rounding off their set with House of Fun, Baggy Trousers and everyone joined to sing along to It Must Be Love.
But this was not enough for the thousands of supporters so Madness obliged with a long encore involving Monty Python’s Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.
Madness @ The Cheltenham Literary Festival, 8th October
Welcome to the House of Fun. One of the most successful pop groups of all time, Madness join us to talk about their astonishing music career, and how it all started in 1970s Camden Town, with six of the original seven still in the line-up forty years later. On stage, we talk to Graham McPherson (Suggs), Lee Thompson (Kix), Chris Foreman (Chrissy Boy), Mark Bedford (Bedders) and Mike Barson (Barso).
The Times and The Sunday Times Forum is situated on the Montpellier Gardens site of The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival in the heart of Cheltenham (GL50 1UW).
8.30pm to 9.30pm
£35 plus booking fee* Ticket includes a copy of Before We Was We, RRP £20.
That’s just about it for this week.
If you’re planning to see Madness during their three-night residency at the Camden Roundhouse this December and have yet to purchase a ticket then please don’t delay. Tickets are selling quickly and you don’t want to miss out.
And finally, with the Summer tour now a fading memory, if you’d like to send us your thoughts or reviews on any of the gigs that formed this multi-month tour we’d love to print them.