Madness magic at the Norfolk Showground

Jo MaloneMadness magic arrives in Norfolk this Saturday. As the county is chosen as one of only three UK venues for a massive outdoor concert, Jo Malone looks forward to the band bringing new fans into the two-tone foldJo Malone

They were disco essentials back in the days of stilettos and leggings, wide belts, big hair, shoulder pads - or pork pie hats and sharp shiny suits.

It simply wasn't a party without Baggy Trousers, House of Fun, My Girl, It Must Be Love and the essential One Step Beyond, the song that had everyone - from baby brother and sister to mum and dad - doing some pretty daft dancing.

Not much has changed!

We still love those ska legends and some of us are still insisting on those classics before we get up and dance and embarrass our own children with silly walks. It is, we insist, 'proper music - music that you can dance to'.

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What's more, our kids agree - and Madness are still the two-tone kings, a band with a great feel good factor and a band still releasing top tunes.

Their new album, The Liberty Of Norton Folgate, debuted at number five in the charts earlier this month, and it's certainly not just the 40-somethings remembering those Friday night disco dancefloors who are buying it.

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Madness are keeping the fun alive - and the fans and themselves young and enthusiastic - with a lively touring schedule with new songs, and a good smattering of those ska classics.

They play the Norfolk Showground on June 13, supported by reggae treasures Aswad and busker brothers the Dualers.

We haven't seen the Nutty Boys, as they're affectionally known, in Norfolk since what some described as a rather subdued gig at Blickling two years ago. Fans are hoping the showground event will be more in the style of the awesome concert they pulled off at High Lodge in Thetford Forest four years ago.

There the band gave the 6,000 strong crowd an exciting proper party night full of music they loved.

Tickets for the showground are now available and, with the band arriving fresh from a night in Madrid a couple of days earlier and excited about the success of the new album, it looks set to be quite a performance.

Norfolk is one of only three massive open-air concerts in the UK to celebrate 30 years at the top of the ska two-tone genre.

The other celebrationary gigs are at Gatcombe Park in Gloucestershire and Hampshire and then they are off touring around Europe before the return of Madstock at London's Victoria Park on July 17.

Lead singer Suggs is looking forward to what is sure to be one of the biggest shows of the summer:

'Madstock for us is musically, socially and geographically our homecoming. There is no other day like it, for us, our families and for the people that come to see us,' he said.

Unlike many bands of their generation, Madness is still the Madness of old, complete with the original band members.

That's the increasingly charismatic Suggs, Mike Barson (Monsieur Barso), Lee Thompson (Kix), Chris Foreman (Chrissy Boy), Daniel Woodgate (Woody), Mark Bedford (Bedders) and Carl Smyth (Chas Smash).

Not just ministers of silly dances, they're an award winning band too, having picked up the Ivor Novello Award twice (1983 and 2000) and the Mojo Hall of Fame Award (2005).

That all followed that amazing debut album One Step Beyond, which was in the UK charts for 37 weeks, touching number two but never actually making it to the top spot.

There have been eight albums since then, with 2005's The Dangermen Sessions Vol.1, the most recent until The Liberty of Norton Folgate.'

This new album is inspired by Norton Folgate, a small area of East London that was historically known for literally being a law unto itself with an eclectic mix of artists and craftspeople, writers, actors and innovators.

'Having had a great deal of fun going back to our Dublin Castle roots a couple of years ago and making an album of ska and reggae covers as The Dangermen we felt it was time to make a great British pop record in the best traditions of our previous work,' said Suggs.

So even if you haven't heard the new album yet, if you loved those Madness tunes of old, it could be right up your street - and the 30th birthday party gig later this month is the party to hear it all!

t Madness play Norfolk Showground, Costessey, on Saturday, June 13. Gates open 4pm and the show is at 6pm. Tickets �32.50. Inquiries tel 0871 224 1113

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