Review: Madness -twice as older, every bit as good

Madness at the Corn Exchange
Madness at the Corn Exchange

Madness: Corn Exchange, Edinburgh

When the most sought after spot at a gig isn’t the front row but the air-con vents around the walls of the Corn Exchange then you know it’s been a belter - a hot, sticky, sweaty night which ended with a drenched audience stumbling out singing Monty Python’s ‘Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life.’

The return of Madness to a packed hall for two nights let us all relive our school discos of the 80s, and boy we danced like loons to the sheer infectious joy that is infused within their evergreen music.

The songs - we knew every word off heart, and, even after all these years, they sounded as brilliant as ever.

The Nutty Boys may have made their mark with their fun, wacky videos, but they were always a top notch band with a sharp eye for a lyric and a hook, and watching them live for the first time since they made the circle in the Playhouse actually bounce sometime in the early 1980s was akin to stepping back in time.

The signs saying ‘‘no beer throwing’’ were ignored the moment the band launched into Embarrassment, although warnings prohibiting crowd surfing were hardly needed given the average age of those attending - an NHS crutch raised in celebration was as reckless as it got. That’s not to say this crowd didn’t bounce,. It didn’t stop from the moment the band hit the stage, and it sang every chorus, and savoured every second of what was, essentially a greatest hits set plus a few new numbers and a rather bonkers detour into a cover of AC/DC’s Highway to Hell.

From Embarrassment to a wonderful My Girl to a simply glorious Baggy Trousers, Madness rattled off the songs that defined our youth.

And just when you thought you’d heard ‘em all, along came a warm, evocative, heartfelt It Must Be Love and a belting finale of Night Boat To Cairo to wrap up a fantastic gig.

We may all have been twice as older - some, a bit more - but this was a gem of a gig from a band that still seems timeless.

Same time, venue next year please...