[LIVE REVIEW] Madness w/ Caravàna Sun @ Festival Hall, Melbourne 13/04/2017

Review Jodi Marino

It has been eight long years since the band of sprightly half-centurians, Madness, have visited our shores and their following has not diminished one little bit.

Touring Australia on the back of their 12th studio album “Can’t Touch Us Now“, the lively Londoners still manage to draw crowds ranging from the twenty somethings through to those in their sixties.

Opening for them on this tour is Caravàna Sun, a group of four lads from Cronulla, who have recently embarked on their “Whale Song Tour” to support the 2016 release of their third studio album “Guerilla Club“. As they take the stage, they share their energy with you immediately. Their sound is bouncy and soulful with a touch of a calypso feel. Playing tracks like ‘Eye of the Storm‘, ‘Jackal in the Night‘ and the very catchy ‘Gaia‘ was a wonderful way to get the crowd warmed up and in good vocal form for Madness.

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By the time the stage lights dimmed, the crowd had built to nigh on capacity across the floor and in the balcony, and they let go a huge roar as Madness took their places. Launching straight into the title track from their newest offering, the whole room seemed to come alive, bouncing and bobbing in unison. Moving straight into ‘Embarrassment‘ and then what had been their debut single, ‘The Prince’, which is a tribute to Jamaican SKA legend Prince Buster.

Some other clear favourites of the opening tracks were ‘My Girl‘ and ‘Wings of a Dove‘. The song ‘Blackbird’ was up next, and Suggs took a moment to explain that the song was in fact penned as a tribute to Amy Winehouse. He recalled the story of seeing her in the street only a matter of days before she sadly passed away in 2011. The middle portion of the set had its tempo lifted somewhat with ‘Mumbo Jumbo‘ getting people really moving.

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As we moved toward the end of the set, the anticipation for the bands biggest hits was palpable. ‘One Step Beyond‘ started off and if the crowd weren’t dancing and singing enough already, the intensity was about to double as they launched into ‘House of Fun‘, ‘Baggy Trousers‘, ‘Our House‘ and of course ‘It Must Be Love‘ to close out the set.

Thanking the crowd and leaving the stage, the noise of stomping feet, whistling and chants of ‘MADNESS!’ and ‘ENCORE!’ were echoing through the whole venue. Leading into the encore was the beautiful sound of bagpipes, which had many fans doing their best highland fling. A huge cheer let out as Madness returned to stage to play ‘Mr. Apples‘, their signature tune, ‘Madness‘ and crowd favourite ‘Night Boat to Cairo‘. The night drew to a close with many a fan still dancing and bouncing on their way out and into the street. Madness had successfully turned Festival Hall into the ‘House of Fun‘.