Madness, House of Fun Weekender, Butlin’s, Minehead (4/5)
Nick Hasted has been a film journalist since 1986. He writes about film, music, books and comics for The Independent, Sight & Sound, Uncut and Little White Lies. He has published two books: The Dark Story of Eminem (2002), and You Really Got Me: The Story of The Kinks (2011), both from Omnibus Press.
Monday 28 November 2011
Step three of Madness' revival is staged in a holiday camp in an off-season Somerset resort town.
Their loyal army of fans sink laughing into giant deck-chairs, stroll along the seafront in pork-pie hats, and blast Desmond Dekker’s “Israelites” from chalets. The first of two sets by their favourite band is, though, the weekend’s crux: a daring “open rehearsal” of songs being considered for Madness’s as yet untitled tenth album. Following their reunion then creative rebirth with The Liberty of Norton Folegate, this is their return to full pop active service.
Madness stroll on in comically casual gear, as if out for a morning jog. But their collective confidence, epitomised by Suggs’s air of ringmasterly amusement, soon builds a head of steam. The songs are uniformly strong, closer to their 1980s pop style than Norton Folegate’s murky London noir. “Black and Blue” has that pomp’s bittersweet bounce, and like “This Time Sister”’s intimations of lonely divorce, suits the middle-aged incarnation of the most darkly realistic chart craftsmen since The Kinks. Suggs’s “La Luna” - a “rum” response to The Beatles’ “In My Life” - and “Into the Powder Blue” share this melancholy. What are we to make, though, of “Doolally”, the true-life adventures of shady hero of the Malayan Emergency Tom Darling, and his fatal sideline in Russian Roulette? Mike Barson’s sequel “some fifty decades later” to one of their biggest hits, “My Girl No. 2”, is the surest indication they’re on the right track: pure Motown, with rapid left-field hooks and an organ solo which would have been a 1966 Mod floor-filler. It does a similar job here. That’s one in the bag.
Madness have filled this holiday camp with influences and like minds, including Paul Heaton and Baxter Dury. They pop on-stage with punk’s great reggae DJ Don Letts, and The Specials’ leader Jerry Dammers DJs too, complete with pith-helmeted brass section. Less likely foils such as Northern electro-rockers The Whip make the crowd dance in weary slow-motion.
Madness are black-suited and booted for a second, all-hits set, a floor-shaking triumph, of course. It comes in the knowledge that they have stayed true to themselves, and so to their fans. “Our House” is the pick, a kitchen-sink scenario full of communicated feeling, a simple message of shared pride. We’re all happy campers in the end.
tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods
tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas
comedy Erm...he seems to be back
tvReview: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa
tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The Boy in the Dress, TV review: David Walliams' Boxing Day treat is a celebration of being different
- 2 Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
- 3 Andy Murray takes to Twitter to show off his Christmas jumper
- 4 Katie Hopkins speaks out on childhood obesity: 'Parents of fat children should be prosecuted for child cruelty'
- 5 Top 10 travel destinations for 2015: From Haiti and Alaska to Namibia and Iceland
Downton Abbey Christmas special 2014, review: Love is everywhere, actually
The Boy in the Dress, TV review: David Walliams' Boxing Day treat is a celebration of being different
The Interview finally gets US release after Sony hack and terror threats – but reviews of North Korea satire are mixed
Vagina canoe artist defends herself over ‘obscenity’ charges
Doctor Who Christmas special, review: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Katie Hopkins speaks out on childhood obesity: 'Parents of fat children should be prosecuted for child cruelty'