Madness, Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham - Review
"Madness, Birmingham, beer - what more could anyone ask for?" Belowed Graham "Suggs" McPhearson across Birmingham's Barclaycard Arena.
I couldn't ask for a more perfect Saturday night, as the last date of two-tone legends Madness' Can't Touch Us Now tour rolled into Birmingham - complete with a legion of fans toting checkered ties and red fez'.
Madness are some of the best showmen in music and they're not afraid to show it off - entering the stage behind a row of convicts bursting through a constructed jail cell before Suggs' laughter erupted through the jail break as he proudly shouted "well, you can't touch us now"
"We're a wonder to doctors - asking how we're still alive" Suggs chuckles, as he broke two ribs a few weeks previous and saxophonist Lee Thompson is bound to a wheelchair after breaking ribs even sooner - but the show must go on, and they still put on the same exuberant show they always do.
Their set was an aural delight of brand new songs like Herbert and Can't Touch Us Now, and golden oldies dug up especially for their show in Birmingham
"This is the last date of tour, and we wouldn't want to be anywhere else other than Birmingham - it was at Barbarellas in Birmingham that we first saw a girl in the crowd at our shows" Suggs joked go the crowd
The show was full of humour - from topical political videos throughout Mumbo Jumbo, dad jokes, onstage party tricks throwing rings onto a coat rack and saxophonist Lee Thompson donning a mirror ball hat and letting the stage lights turn him into a one-man disco.
The band paid tribute to the late and great Amy Winehouse in their rendition of Blackbird, flashing her face in black and white above the stage in a touching few moments, as well as their close friend Prince Buster playing his classic songs One Step Beyond and Madness.
Their final few songs caused the entire Barclaycard Arena to erupt - 13,000 feet were standing and stomping along too Our House, Baggy Trousers and It Must Be Love - I don't think I've ever danced so much in my life!
The whole crowd left the arena singing their final song, Month Python ode Always Look On the Bright Side of Life - it was a strange moment hearing it chorus across Brindley Place, thousands of people United over one thing - Madness.
It's easy to see why Madness are still legends this many years on - their shows are polished from start to finish, a true spectacle to behold with passionate and talented musicians - that still know how to put on a real party.
By Rebecca Stanley
Wolverhampton poet saved from being thrown into the river as a child talks culture, disability and Festival of Imagination