[MUSIC – UK]
Governor Hindmarsh Hotel, Thu 19 Dec, 2019.
It’s hot enough to fry an egg on the footpath outside, and the temperature inside The Gov is also rising. The place is packed. Adelaide’s searing heatwave appears to have done precisely nothing, in terms of dissuading any of the ticket holders for tonight’s sell-out show from attending. One Step Behind, quite possibly the best Madness tribute band going around, are in town and expectations are high; hence the full house.
House Of Ska have done a great job in warming up the crowd (just what was needed!), so there’s a lot of sweat in the air even before the main act gets going. The six-piece ensemble arrives on stage to warm applause (everything is warm tonight) and starts proceedings with a decent version of a great song, Shut Up. With its “One, two, THREE!” refrain, it’s a great choice for an opener; getting the crowd involved early. A rapid version of Madness’ only 2 Tone release, The Prince, follows.
The band looks and sounds great. They’ve been doing this for over a quarter of a century so they should know their way around the Madness universe. Lead singer Ian Soulsby is full of chat, and does a pretty good job, in terms of Suggs-type cheeky-chappiness.
After the first half a dozen songs, the band deviates slightly from the expected selections. 1984’s The Sun And The Rain and Uncle Sam from the following year offer something a little different to punters who, judging by the reaction from some, weren’t as familiar with these two. No such issue with It Must Be Love, which rekindles the singing from the gallery. “This is the hottest gig I’ve done in 26 years,” remarks Soulsby. “Thank you, Adelaide!” Not surprising; it’s still 40 degrees outside. There’s a bit of banter before Mr Apples, involving a prominent British family, someone called “Andrew”, and the word “nonce”.
The mix is generally OK. It’s dominated by the rhythm section, and the keys are way, way down. As an example, tonight’s version of Swan Lake, one of the most memorable melodies ever written, has people scratching their heads as to what it is that the band is playing.
Ray Davies’ Lola, a song from The Dangermen Sessions, goes down well. Embarrassment and Cardiac Arrest take the audience back to the halcyon years, when it seemed Madness could do no wrong. The Suggs’ solo hit, a cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s Cecilia, is a surprising but popular choice.
Madness are a band with a fabulous catalogue of irresistible songs, so tonight’s final chapter is nothing short of brilliant. Our House, Baggy Trousers (Baggy! Baggy! Baggy! Oi! Oi! Oi!) and House Of Fun raise the roof. Possibly the most welcome song of the evening, Prince Buster’s Madness, complete with its Tom Hark prelude, has the whole venue skanking. Despite the hot weather, this is bordering on the joyous. One Step Beyond brings down the curtain, or so it seems. The boys return with a lengthy rendition of Night Boat To Cairo, making sure everyone has had their full quota of nutty boy ska.
One Step Behind have presented a night of Madness music and, never mind the heat, they have had the audience rocking pretty much all evening long. Well played.
Image courtesy of David Robinson