It was a weekend to remember; a weekend never to forget. From St. Mirren Park on Saturday (arguably forgettable) to Depeche Mode on Saturday night (definitely forgettable), and from the ska party in Glasgow on Sunday to the Madness gig itself, it was a great weekend topped off by one of the best Madness gigs ever witnessed.
To summarise, I shall begin at the start. I headed through to Glasgow around lunchtime on Saturday and joined my sister at her flat on the south side. I dropped off my gear and we headed through the fog to Paisley to see St. Mirren play Falkirk in a league match.
After a pretty dismal first half (except for a delicious pie and Bovril) the Saints came bursting out the blocks with a 35-yeard screamer. When Falkirk equalised in the last minute of the game I was unable to show my disgust due to the fact I had in fact been frozen solid to my seat and was unable to feel my hands, legs or feet.
From there we went back into Glasgow and found a pub around the corner from Central Station to try and warm up. A few pints of Guinness later and I was still not warm, but it was time to head out to the SECC for the Depeche Mode gig.
I expected more from the concert. Only recognising one song, Enjoy the Silence, because most tunes were post-1986 at least. It was a gig for DM diehards and not anyone who had come along to hear all their old hits. While their stage set was certainly impressive it hardly made up for it, and I left (before the final song) feeling ripped off and let down.
After a good dinner of MYO pizza and a hearty sleep, Sunday was with us. It was still very foggy across Glasgow, as it had been across most of Scotland for the previous two days, and with it a real nippy cold front. That didn’t stop me getting changed into my Madness t-shirt and Harrington for the big day, and after a full Scottish fry-up in Ludovics Café in Mount Florida, Binny and I headed off to the Clockwork Pub for our first few pints of the day.
A coupe of hours later we headed off by cab to Pivo Pivo and their now infamous pre-ska party, first held for The Specials triumphant return to the city in April, and now again for Madness. We got there just after 4pm and it was already filling up nicely. Skinhead after ska fan came trooping through the door to be met with good beer in a low-hung roof and a jukebox playing The Specials, Madness, and other ska classics.
Soon all my mates began turning up also. Wee Stoo and his fiancée, Fiona; Stevie Ward who I had not seen in about five years; Peter and Dave Gardner; Iain Mason, Rob Wardlaw, and even Stewart Rennie who had made the trip from Portsmouth after telling his burd he had to attend a mate’s funeral so he could get to make the trip! 🙂
Local ska band, Esperanza, entertained the crowd with some great numbers and really set the party in motion. It was one laugh after another with the old crew back together again, and my stomach still aches from constant joking and all the hyperactive laughter from the exciting build up to the gig,
Pretty soon it was time to head to the venue. Finding the words to express the emotions one feels arriving at a Madness gig is hard enough, but trying to do it for my 20th Madness gig is even harder. The Academy is such a fine venue and perfect for the likes of Madness to strut their stuff, and so it proved.
We took our places front centre and after taking in their pre-gig video, mostly made up of material from their 1981 movie Take It Or Leave It, a kilted piper walked on stage to introduce the arrival of the band. And what a fantastic reception the lads got as they walked on.
With the pleasantries out of the way it was time to separate the men from the boys, and Madness launched into their seminal intro song, One Step Beyond. The floor was bouncing and the crushing immediate, as Madness kicked things off with one stomping hit after another. Baggy Trousers, House of Fun, Wings of a Dove, Embarrassment, The Prince; all the old classics were there.
But what really made it for me was the range of material they played. Unlike Depeche Mode the previous night, Madness know how to please everyone and covered a bunch of songs off their new album, The Liberty of Norton Folgate as well as a variety of album tracks from the early days. Such a joy it was to hear ERNIE and In The Rain performed live, although Clerkenwell Polka is not a live song for the faint hearted!
All too soon the finale was approaching, and as Madness belted out It Must Be Love, I watched the big screen behind them and as the song finished up my picture appeared along with Rob and Stoo; the three of us with stupid faces and Fez’s remained up on stage long after the band departed. It made my night and I made sure to tell everyone around me that it was my picture up on stage!!
Then the lads came back out, bagpiped again with The Flower of Scotland, and launched into their finale. Tarzan’s Nuts first followed by Madness, and then the wildly exhausting but perfect end to any gig, Night Boat to Cairo closed things off. I even got a touch of Suggs sweaty towel as he threw it into the crowd!
Exhausted and with sore ribs and feet—I twisted my knee quite badly during The Sun and The Rain—we all said our goodbyes and headed home; Binny and me via the kebab shop to stock up on badly needed grub and Irn-Bru.
As for yesterday, the word recovery just about sums it all up, although I did manage to meet my mother in town for a bite to eat and a chat with Binny before heading back through to Edinburgh.
SO! Twenty (20) Madness gigs have I done and it was an absolute joy, not just because of the great set, and not just because of the fun I had for 90 minutes in the mosh pit, but for being able to say all the old faces were there back together again and loving every minute of the build up.
Madness fans are a special breed and the folk that make up my group are all diamond geezers and gals—long may it continue, and long live Madness!
Here’s my pictures of a great day out…