Phones 4u arena manchester whats on

Beth Abbit was on hand to see Madness and their unique style take on the big stage of the Arena

British ska band Madness

Madness have been peddling their unique brand of melodic ska and two-tone for almost 40 years.

The original nutty boys have made 10 albums and gained 15 UK top ten singles following humble beginnings in NW5.

Phones 4u arena manchester whats on

So it’s a relief to see that they have lost none of their charm during their visit to the Phones 4u arena on the penultimate date of their M.A.D.H.E.A.D tour.

And their appearance certainly goes down well with the crowd of super fans at the arena tonight. Through waves of Fred Perry shirts, bovver boots and braces, it’s possible to see thousands of delighted faces.

Frontman Suggs is a natural raconteur and is as affable as ever as he leads his merry bunch of ragtag band mates - dressed in suits and shades - through a set of classic ska, reggae, two-tone and pure pop.

Embarrassment, House of Fun, Night Boat To Cairo, My Girl, Our House - they’re all here and they all sound as lively as ever.

A highlight is The Prince, which stands out as a timeless tribute from the reggae-loving rude boys to Jamaican ska legend Prince Buster.

And though Madness are keen to show off their newer songs, such as The Last Rag And Bone Man and Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da, those tunes are never quite as contagiously good as the classics.

Throughout the show, images of the band’s heroes and designated ‘madheads’ flash up on the screens behind them - Jack Nicholson, Kenneth Williams, the Shake n Vac lady and Morticia and Gomez Addams. It all makes for a visually stunning show.

Near the end, the otherwise extremely talented guitarist Chris Foreman gives a bizarre, tuneless rendition of Big Spender. It’s pretty bewildering, but the band soon redeem themselves with their trademark tune, Baggy Trousers - which sends the crowd into fever pitch - the saccharine classic It Must Be Love and their most famous cover One Step Beyond, which prompted mass skanking.

It might not be anything new, but it’s a formula that has worked for Madness for decades and not something their fans are likely to tire of anytime soon.

And let’s not forget that Madness’ trademark vernacular and obsession with the minutiae of British life has paved the way for bands like the Arctic Monkeys and Blur.

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