Fez sales experienced a boost in Belfast on Monday night, which could only mean one thing – Madness were in town.
It was their first Belfast gig since Belsonic in 2012. It was the only time i’d seen Madness play live, a life ambition realised.
They were no strangers to The Odyssey, having played there in 2007 and 2009. For varying reasons, I missed both gigs. I’m already making up for lost Madness time having not been born/been a baby during their original chart run.
Fittingly, in East Belfast, with the Titanic Shipyards nearby, the gig got off to a maritime start, with the band opening with Night Boat To Cairo, and the end of which Suggs commented “Thank you Belfast, you’ve been wonderful. Good night”. Thankfully, he was only joking.
Madness went through their back catalogue, obviously playing hits such as Embarrassment, Sun and the Rain, The Prince, Bed and Breakfast Man, Shut Up, My Girl, House Of Fun, Baggy Trousers and It Must Be Love, and modern classics such as Lovestruck, My Girl II and NW5.
Lovestruck is one of my favourite songs, their 1999 comeback single, which reached top ten. I loved that I got to see Madness on Top Of The Pops, and in the charts as a teenager.
Suggs stepped aside for Return Of The Las Palmas Seven, letting Lee Thompson (Saxophone) and Chris Foreman (Guitar) take the limelight. Big mistake, once they got a taste of it, they never let it go.
Thompson was acting the fool, trying to swing his microphone, and continually missing, before jokingly strangling himself, while Foreman got behind the mic to sing his own version of Hey Big Spender.
One young fan, Johnny Campbell, got a special treat, when he joined the band on stage to play Saxophone with them. He came on unnoticed, and it took a while for the audience to realise that there was a kid at primary school age performing with the band.
Before he left the stage (you know, bedtime, school in the morning), Suggs gave him some fatherly advice (although he may be old enough to be his grandfather, albeit a very young grandfather) that he should “stay in school and get an education ……… because you don’t want to end up like Lee Thompson”
During the performance of Our House, the LED Screens in the background showed images of houses in Belfast, and various other landmarks in the city.
One noticable absence, was Chas Smash. I didn’t know he’d left the band until last night (confirming his departure in this Guardian interview)
That would explain why they didn’t open with One Step Beyond.
They did perform One Step Beyond, in the encore, with Suggs just shouting “ONE …… STEP ….. BEYOND!!!” instead of Smash’s “HEY YOU!!! DON’T WATCH THAT!!! WATCH THIS!!!!” intro.
They finished with another Prince Buster cover, Madness, the song that gave them their name, with Suggs signing off by telling the crowd to eat as much as they want over Christmas as they’d had a good aerobic workout from all the dancing.
Madness still proving that they are the nuttiest sound around.