Welcome to the house of fun – Capital FM Arena…

Having been invited to see Madness at the Capital FM Arena, I attended with some trepidation. I have grown up listening to Madness and am aware that their target demographic is more inclined to my dad’s generation than mine.

My worries, however, were unfounded.  Dolled up to the nines in an assortment of fancy dress outfits and more fez’s than I’ve ever seen in one enclosed space, the happy, drunk men bore more resemblance to the boys stumbling out of Crisis on a Wednesday than I would have expected. Some things never change.

Supporting Madness were Man Like Me, a band that have featured on a Saturday at Stealth Vs Recued on a number of occasions  I have never seen a band with so much energy.  Entering the stage on his band-mates shoulders, the lead singer proceeded to perpetually bounce for the rest of the set – just watching him was arduous.

The music was humorous and energetic, a perfect opener to whet the crowds appetite in anticipation of Madness. Favourite songs included ‘London Town VIP’ and ‘Squeeze’.  The catchy beats and memorable lyrics were impossible to ignore, and the crowd remained riveted throughout.

The set ended with a bang when the lead singer’s boundless energy got the better of him.  In an unsuccessful attempt to jump onto his towering back-up singers shoulders from the ground, he instead dislocated his shoulder.  A dramatic finish to say the least, though it paralleled the active drama of their set fairly accurately.

After a short wait Madness took their place on stage, emanating retro chic in suits, skinny ties and wayfarer sunglasses that were worn for the entire performance.  The staging was unpretentious and simple, a far cry from the frantic pyrotechnic light spectacles I’ve grown accustomed to. The focus remained on the music.

They performed a small selection of songs from their new album, but as expected the show began when the classics came out.  Opening the show with ‘One Step Beyond’, immediately the ball was rolling and it only went up from then.  After a short lull, the tempo was rapidly regained with the insertion of some timeless crowd-pleasers; ‘Our House’ and ‘House of Fun’ were inevitably appreciated, as was ‘Driving in My Car’ and ‘Baggy Trousers.’

The atmosphere was electric, with everyone – young and old – being thoroughly entertained.  They closed the set with, ‘It Must Be Love’ initiating a universal sing-along, and then returned for an amazingly upbeat encore, another rousing rendition of ‘One Step Beyond’.

As a final point, Suggs is incredibly cool.  Whether it was his charismatic performance, outfit choice, or those sunglasses, but he is undisputedly ‘The Man’.  He carried the show, and Madness were unforgettable.