by David King
posted 20/04/2017


Fred Perry was there, and so was his younger cousin Ben Sherman. There were pork pie hats and fezzes with MADNESS emblazoned on the front and there was even a chap – I use this word because we are referring to a crowd seeing a British band – with a mohawk . There was a gent – get my drift,  remember British – who was sporting a crisp white shirt with braces and Doc Martins and shaved head who looked like he could fit in quite comfortably in a Clockwork Orange. I would say he got dressed up for the concert but I have a feeling that is his normal attire. All came to see Ska band MADNESS who played at a full Horden Pavilion last Saturday.

Unlike bands from the eighties doing the rounds of nostalgia tours where you have to accommodate the intervening years, MADNESS were fresh and full of energy. They looked dapper in their three piece suits and sunglasses. For a band that have in one shape or another been together for 38 years there appeared a genuine fondness among band members. And they have been working at their craft, promoting their twelfth album, “CAN’T TOUCH US NOW,” and not just relying on the old standards. The frontman SUGGS , aka Graham McPherson, also doing a one man stand up comedy show of his life while in Australia, and who reminds me of a blond or more silver haired artful dodger was in fine voice. Whether it was the punchy “BAGGY TROUSERS “and “HOUSE OF FUN”, the ambient  “NIGHT BOAT TO CAIRO” or the soulful “BLACKBIRD” dedicated to the late Amy Winehouse, the set moved seamlessly and was geared to the tempo of the crowd, finishing on “IT MUST BE LOVE”. The night was fun and good humoured as I walked from the pavilion to a recording of  “ALWAYS LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE OF LIFE”.

SUGGS  joked that they were not TAKE THAT or ONE DIRECTION or KYLIE MINOGUE…thankfully they were not. They showed the right mix of British ballsiness and sensitivity, bravura and self deprecation. Less a serrated knife and more a smooth blade but just as cutting, that comes with age and experience. Their music is aphoristic and tells stories of the common man and for many in the audience anthems to their life.

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