Madness 17-06-11 Ticket

Madness, yes they call it madness...

Last night I slummed it, dear reader. Yes, instead of stroking my chin to 20-minute progressive rock epics about starship troopers or killer fish, I was bopping to some two-tone style classics.

It’s hard to review a band with Madness’s pedigree. They are a multi-limbed juggernaut of hits. They cannot be stopped. They will just roll over you like a steam roller, so it is best just to wallow in the nostalgia, enjoy the new stuff and do your best to sing along.

It was my first visit to the RFH since the refurbishment thanks to my self-imposed exile and I was duly impressed with the changes and the comfort of the new seating. Of course, there’s never enough legroom, but what can you do about it? Hire a wheelchair and do a “Lou and Andy” in order to get to the best seats. That has crossed my mind on numerous occasions…

The striking thing about the night was not the band or the music, it was the audience and their complete lack of co-ordination. For I have never witnessed such a shambolic attempt at “dancing” in my life. It was as if five bus loads of lobotomised, highly-sedated, old age pensioners had been shoved into the hall and instructed to “do their stuff”.

Then there was the hooray henry behind me who had been to grammar school, owned all the albums and proceeded to bore his female associate/girlfriend with his knowledge of Ray Davis, Madness, the Meltdown festival and any other subject that might come his way. His mouth was lubricated by a large pinot grigio “I saw the small, and the medium and realised that the large was the only way to go,” he said as his voice seemed to get louder and louder. Throughout the concert he would shout, holler and whistle and generally be the twat of the gig, and I had him behind me. I’d had a couple of gigs like this before, and this is why I prefer to be sober at concerts because if I’d had a few sherberts inside me I think I would have told the toe-rag to shut his pie-hole and enjoy the music. Unfortunately, this would have been accompanied with a threat of violence.

But yes, the audience was predominantly OLD and I kept hearing Pete “It was for research” Townshend’s words “I hope I die before I get old” echoing in my head, which is a bit trite from someone who has just entered middle-age. Fuck me, I’m middle-aged! No-one sent me the manual…

The band were impeccable, thundering through all the hits and were what you expected. I paid for an evening of Madness doing their thing and that’s what I got, and cannot be disappointed with that. Ray Davies actually introduced the band, but it was hard to follow what he was saying because Mr Pinot Grigio behind me was too busy flapping his mouth about the Kinks and Jerry Dammers and whatever.

While many of the audience decided to rise to their feet and jigger about at the very beginning of the concert – much to the consternation of the row of disabled punters whose view was blocked and the families with children who were too small to see and busied themselves trying to move themselves to a better vantage point – I decided to keep my powder dry and only shake my money maker towards the final stage of the concert, when the big hits were out – Our House, Baggy Trousers and It Must Be Love, etc. That way, while the oldsters were all flagging and searching for their cod liver oil tablets, me and the Missus were fresh and bopping like youngsters. Ha, epic win!

The gig was a good evening out and nothing else. For me, there was a distance between the music and myself probably because at the beginning the sound mix was very muddy and it took the sound people three or four songs to get the balance right. Plus, it didn’t help having the hooray behind me playing at being the poshest Madness fan in the hall.

But I heard all the hits, saw the band and even had a dance – so I guess it was a successful evening. As their guitarist said before his attempt at murdering Ray Davies’s “Where Did All the Good Times Go?” – “It’s not like there’s anything good on the telly tonight, is there?”

‘Nuff said!

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