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Dec 02

(Almost) Never Look Back

By Mark Attwood | Life

Went to see Madness on Tuesday night. For the first time in 29 years.

My first live gig was as a 12 year old at Bingley Hall, Birmingham. Bob Miles’ Aunt had taken him and two friends for his 12th birthday.

What a treat! We were Madness nutters. Suggs was a demi-God to us back then.

And here I was again. Gone were the stay-pressed trousers, trax shoes, harrington jacket and pineapple stitch jumper. In was a beer belly, double chin, and a bloody big grin.

My wife had come along for the ride, mainly because of the promise of Paul Heaton supporting.

She was a little shocked at the roughness of a lot of the middle aged nutty boys, still squeezing into their two tone T-shirts and shouting abuse at aforementioned former Housemartin. She also discovered she did not enjoy live music unless she knew the songs inside out.

But I had a ball.

The boys were now 50-something, but looking, moving and sounding superb. Especially Suggs, nee Graham MacPherson, the former callow youth hero of my youth, and now nattily dressed in a Saville Row suit and Suggsing it up without every descending into parody.

The thing is about Madness – they are a bloody good band, not just an image. There are some very serious keyboard, sax and guitar skills in the magnificent 7. And somehow, they brought it all together in a SKA format that got to the hearts of the nation back in the early eighties mainly because they sang about life. About school. About losing your virginity. About living at home. About driving cars. About having heart attacks. About the weather. About dirty old men. About love.

Here they are in 1979..

Here’s Bed & Breakfast Man..

Here’s Baggy Trousers…

Here’s their only No.1…

Here’s their cover of Labi Stiffre’s classic (Madness do it better)..

Madness. An Embarrassment of riches.

Thank you.

P.S. If Chas Smash reads this, yes it was me that kissed your feet outside the Boardwalk in 1991. You were there to see the Frank and Walters, I was managing the support band, Bong!

P.P.S. Here they are promoting the tour with Paul Heaton. Go and see them if you can.