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#216 Madness @ Dublin O2 Arena (November 28th 2012)

Support: Man Like Me

This was my first time seeing Madness since 2008 when they were quite superb in the now sadly departed Tripod venue in Dublin. Has much changed since then? Well yes actually. In that time they have lost bass player Mark Bedford (although he still pops up now and again with the band…on the Buckingham Palace roof and the Olympics Closing Ceremony to name two) and released two quite brilliant studio albums with 2009’s The Liberty Of Norton Folgate and this year’s wonderfully named Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da. 

Madness - Dublin O2 Arena November 28th 2012

Unlike many bands (like Madness themselves for a while) who just tour the hits, Madness mix it up with the old and the new…and why not when they have produced two of their best studio albums after 30+ years together. Trying to persuade my concert buddies tonight, Matt and Russell, that this was the case was pretty impossible beforehand. Also I would suggest that the majority of people in the crowd were there not to hear new songs but to evoke memories of their long forgotten youth with the old ska classics. And therein lies the problem. It must be hard for bands like Madness to get the balance right. How much new stuff to play to keep themselves relevant but not to piss of those who have paid their money to dance to House Of Fun and Baggy Trousers? Well Madness managed to just about get it right…

Starting off at 9.15 in the only way possible with One Step Beyond the lads made their entrance from behind the thick curtain…except one side of the curtain decided to not open properly. Cue numerous panicked roadies. That minor incident aside the first hour of the set was an assured performance of the old and the new with My Girl and My Girl 2 going particularly well together. The new tracks really did sound good live but you got the feeling that some of the crowd were waiting for just 3 or 4 particular songs. This was shown when there was only polite applause at times when what I was seeing on stage deserved a lot more. That’s a criticism of the crowd though as Madness were really on form. Songs on the new album like La Luna and How Can I Tell You as well as the aforementioned My Girl 2 are examples of a band on a creative streak.

Now this is where I am going to sound hypocritical as I admit that the best part of the show was the last half an hour, and yes this was the part of the show with a stream of classics (Our House, Baggy Trousers, It Must Be Love and so on). It started when Chris Foreman grabbed the microphone and belted out The Beastie Boys (You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party!). Thissignalled the beginning of thirty minutes of the ‘Double M’...Madness Moshing and it’s for that reason that I loved it. It was the part of the show when the crowd was at its best. I love being in the Madness mosh pit and I managed to get right into the thick of it directly in front of Suggs. There is plenty of pushing and shoving but it’s all done with a smile on the face and if you don’t like it…well seriously don’t stand at the front of a Madness gig.

For the encore we got Madness, followed by excellentnew track Death Of A Rude Boy (reminding me of the Specials) and finishing ofcourse with Night Boat To Cairo.

Another top gig from Madness. Not as good as the previously mentioned 2008 concert but that really isn’t a criticism of the band as that night the intimacy of the venue was such that the entire crowd was in to it from the start. A lot of that energy can be lost in large arenas like the O2 however for me it was great to hear the new songs standing up so well tonight. In fact the tracks off the new album really were sounding great and I look forward to hearing what this (cliché alert) British institution  come up with next.

Ticket: November 28th 2012

Ticket Price: €44.55

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