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- Iva Davies: the reluctant rock star
- The reinvention of Tim Finn
Legendary British band Madness arrives in Melbourne this week for a rare Australian tour. Lead singer Suggs says the infamous nutty boys are finally being taken seriously, after nearly 40 years in the business.
“In the ’70s and ’80s, papers like the NME [New Musical Express] were always a bit snooty about us,” Suggs says. “It’s only in the past 10 years that we’ve had the broadsheets start talking about the legacy of Madness. To be fair, we didn’t exactly help the cause. We behaved like a bunch of idiots.”
Their string of wry, catchy hits including House of Fun, Driving In My Car and Baggy Trousers led some to dismiss the group as a novelty act.
Many Australians would have first seen the band perform on Ben Elton’s anarchic sitcom The Young Ones and might have missed the social commentary of their later work.
These days, Madness is considered part of the establishment, a fact brought home when they were invited to meet the Queen and perform on the roof of Buckingham Palace. “I don’t think they knew where else to put us,” Suggs jokes.
They continue to release commercially and critically successful albums – and it’s not just the old fans listening. “We’ve had four generations of one family at one of our concerts,” Suggs says. “Forty years ago, we’d never have foreseen that young kids would be coming to see Madness. It’s a double-edged sword, the internet. On the one hand, they’re downloading your music for nothing. On the other hand, they’re downloading your music.”
Tickets to the band’s Australian gigs have been selling fast. Despite their British outlook, Madness has always struck a chord here.
“We chose to write about ordinary, everyday life: going to school, getting your first girlfriend, your first car. We were brought up on The Kinks and Ian Dury, who sang in their own vernacular about their own lives, trying to make something cinematic out of making a cup of tea. There’s something universal about the everyday.”
BOOK A TICKET
- April 13 – Melbourne – Festival Hall
- April 15 – Sydney – Hordon Pavillion
- April 16 – Byron Bay – Bluesfest
Suggs’ one-man show
- Suggs: My Life Story
- Plays the Comedy Theatre
- April 24