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ALL PROBLEMS FIXED BY A FULL ON SKANK

April 21, 2017

 MADNESS

Hordern Pavilion, April 15

 

There are some things you would do well not to argue with Madness about.

 

Of course you’d rhyme “hotelier” with “my derriere”, and “a rotten little Herbert” with “my princess made of sherbet”. And while Suggs is the carnival barker-meets-Tommy Cooper frontman at ease with his role, anyone sensible would want sax player Lee Thompson having the freedom of the stage to be the spark.

 

Naturally you would stock red fez at the merch desk which would then bob up and down in the sea of bodies dancing madly as you end the night with Night Boat To Cairo.

 

Hitting hard and often with the set’s closing bracket of One Step Beyond, House Of Fun, Baggy Trousers and It Must Be Love is like one big explosion of delight – and bounce, skipping feet, pumping arms and big grins throughout the room – which can then double as a riposte to the farragoes of resentment mouthed by Farage and his ilk.

 

Then opening the encore with a new song, Mr Apples, is a neat way to keep slipping in new material, especially when it’s a better song than a rather plodding You Are My Everything which had failed to ignite just before that hits bracket.

 

There are some things which might be a point of disagreement.

 

Can’t Touch Us Now is a jovial but not exactly springing-from-the-barriers opening gambit. There’s pacing, and then there’s a bit of a polite-but-maybe-even limp beginning to a night.

 

Despite resurrecting the gentle Yesterday’s Men from 1985 (“Yesterday's men hang to today/To sing in the old fashioned way”), with its little nod to Spanish Harlem, Madness don’t feel purely nostalgic.

 

At least not when 2008’s NW5, squeezed between up-stepping ancient numbers The Prince and My Girl, had grace and urban colour.

 

That said, the sporadic bursts of energy through the first hour or so of the night suggested not enough of the material had the kick up the Khyber necessary. And the sound was unbalanced: keyboards and guitars under-resourced in the mix.

 

But then there’s nothing which can’t be fixed by a head down, elbows out, knees up skank to clear the head – and the space around you.

 

Funny how bellowing “one step beyond” curtails any debate.

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