Madness, Gig Review. Tranmere Rovers, Prenton Park.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10

Madness at Prenton Park. May 2017.

In amongst the groups of men wearing pith helmets and dreaming of night in the arms of dusky Egyptian maid, the hen parts walking with vigour as the thought of one step beyond the matrimonial alter dawned upon them, the sense of the naughty and the mischievous strutting round in their baggy trousers and the division of blue and red Fezs took centre stage. The feeling of contentment inside Prenton Park was infectious; a party inside Prenton, the pitch, soon to be replaced for another season, was being lovingly trampled upon, and whether in the stands or on the ground this was an evening on the Wirral peninsula which would light up the area as much as the rightly adored Light Night across the Mersey in Liverpool.

Madness, arguably one of the most loved and admired bands of their time and one to whom appealed right across the board, were in town, a stone’s throw from The Mersey, the boys who typify life in a place by an equally famous river were destined to light up Prenton Park with their music, humour and subtle grace and terrific undertones in the very best impish way possible.

The pith helmets in the crowd were seen to be bouncing immediately, the sense of fun in this vast open air house was uncontrollable and the beautiful sense of wicked eyed glint, the playful and the well behaved rogue were all offered with sincerity and the grin of a saxophone on full charge was heard louder than a crunching tackle on the centre spot.

Madness opened the late evening with the iconic Embarrassment, Buster and NW5, three very different songs from three separate eras of the band’s long and impressive history and yet three songs that were seamless, not even the width of a cigarette paper could be seen between what these songs meant to the crowd, songs of innocence, of family despair and rituals, these are the songs that resonate with the fan, with a crowd, they revel in the words and the world painted by the band and it was within minutes that it was possible to see the music’s infectious tones once more drive the feet and the shoulders into party mode.

Along with songs such as The Sun and the Rain, Mr. Apples, Cardiac Arrest, Wings of a Dove, Yesterday’s Men, Grey Day and My Girl, Madness showed there must always be love for this fantastic band, a group of men who took the charts by storm at a time of political upheaval but who have stayed more than relevant ever since.

The flags on the roof of Prenton Park may have been starting to swirl in the May breeze as the night grew to its conclusion but they certainly stood to attention as Madness played out the night with great applause. A terrific night of music entertainment by the iconic band and one that should be replayed in the memory often, for Madness there is no better place than home.

Ian D. Hall