HOUSE OF FUN: Suggs and Madness staged a hugely entertaining show on Sunday.
HOUSE OF FUN: Suggs and Madness staged a hugely entertaining show on Sunday. Marc Stapelberg

Madness drive the huge crowd crazy

THE Mojo tent became the House of Fun when the nutty boys of Madness took the stage on Sunday night.

Slightly more portly than in their heyday, the dapper London lads nevertheless turned on a high-energy show, with a pounding, bass-heavy rock-steady beat and Lee Thompson's full-throated sax driving proceedings.

Suggs, the eternal cheeky-chappie master of ceremonies, is in good voice and good humour; he takes the mickey throughout, except when honouring the departed, such as ska elder Prince Buster, whose song Madness gave the band their name, and Amy Whitehouse, whose premature death inspired the reflective Blackbird from 2016's fine Can't Touch Us Now.

Otherwise, except for excursions into satire and social comment, it's all high octane silliness and smiles.

"Hey you, don't watch that, watch this," bellows Suggs, opening the show with One Step Beyond, a song which, like most of the two dozen or so that follow, is immediately picked up by the adoring fans who join in with gusto.

In quick succession come Embarrassment, NW5, My Girl and then a comical standout from the new album, a tale of lust that would do the band's grubby godfather Ian Dury proud.

They even pinch one of Billericay Dickie's rhymes (cleaners/misdemeanours) as the narrator relates how he, a rotten little Herbert, is being pursued by a shotgun toting dad whose "princess made of sherbert" he has wronged.

The backgound graphics to all this are a delight: a cityscape collage of London sites, with whizzing hot air balloons, Pythonesque Victoriana, white doves fluttering against a black ground.

For Mumbo Jumbo, an irresistibly danceable ska blast at the "crap" politicians' talk, images flash by of Cameron, Trump, Charlie Chaplin, flying pigs!

Mr Apples is lighter, but still about a dodgy geezer, a pillar of the community by day who likes to slip over to on the wrong side of town by night. More hypocrisy.

It's the last night of a long tour for the band and they have loved their time in Australia, and prove it with a respectable version of Highway to Hell, courtesy of guitarist Chris Foreman.

Then it's House of Fun, Baggy Trousers, Our House, and It Must Be Love, and Can't Touch Us Now and "Cairo" for the encore.

Ever the gent, Suggs says it's been a pleasure and with that we can concur. The lights go up but Always Look on the Bright Side plays, spurring punters to dance with unbridled joy, singing along madly.

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