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Madness | April 19, 2012


San Francisco’s Warfield was lucky to host ska legends Madness, which sandwichedless than a handful of west coast dates between their weekend Coachella performances. When you’ve got a band that’s been around as long as Madness (35 some-odd years), things can go a few different ways: you can find yourself with one original member milking the band’s name by going through the motions, or … as in the case with Madness … you get six members from the band’s formative years busting out the music like it was written yesterday.

Taking stage looking dapper in suits and two-tone shoes and by no means showing their years, Madness jumped straight into what else? One Step Beyond. Chas Smash and Suggs McPherson may have owned the stage but Lee Thompson (aka silly sausage) didn’t let that get in the way of his own fun, at various points hitting each security guard with a blast of saxophone in the ear and later on taking a dive off the stage for some crowd surfing (sans sax). The energy was infectious; the sold-out floor was bopping along and at one point a small mosh pit actually broke out.

The stage setup was stripped down; no need for a lot of additional glitz when there are ten people on stage. Only after the third song was a giant lit Madness sign revealed on the backdrop. It made a few reappearances throughout the set but largely remained off. Aside from a few comments about the colorful neighborhood that they found themselves staying and performing in (if you’ve ever been to the Warfield, you’d know what they were talking about it) the first half of the set was about knocking out classic tune after tune.

About half way into the set, the band took a bit of a break from the music to entertain the audience with some jokes (a few which seemed to go over a good number of heads) as well as an a cappella rendition of the Beatles’ Help! (which may have been missing a few lyrics). Once properly rested and re-joined by the horn section (Brass Monkeys?), Madness spent the rest of the set knocking out the missing hits: House of Fun, Baggy Trousers, and Our House even got the balcony up and moving. Suggs introduced It Must Be Love with, “Sometimes it’s a pleasure sometimes it’s a privilege. Tonight it’s been both,” before leaving the stage and the crowd wanting more.

What could still be missing from that set? Not to be forgotten were Madness and Night Boat to Cairo which wrapped up the encore. The house lights came on to Monty Python’s Always Look On the Bright Side of Life pumping through the P.A. and some sort of Suggs/Chas parting jig. Spotted after the show … a lot of smiling faces leaving the Warfield after 90 minutes of Madness.


  • One Step Beyond
  • Embarrassment
  • The Prince
  • NW5
  • My Girl
  • The Sun and the Rain
  • Take It Or Leave It
  • Taller Than You Are
  • I Chase The Devil aka Iron Shirt
  • Clerkenwell Polka
  • Shut Up
  • Grey Day
  • Bed & Breakfast Man
  • Forever Young
  • House Of Fun
  • Baggy Trousers
  • Our House
  • It Must Be Love


  • Tarzan’s Nuts or Swan Lake?
  • Madness
  • Night Boat To Cairo

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© 2012 Alan Snodgrass | Please do not use without express permission (contact). If you like what you see, leave a comment below and subscribe so you can be notified of new posts. You can also become a fan on Facebook.

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  1. wleephoto

    man, that one security guy is a mindless douche. he stands there like a moronic petrified zombie – move your f*cking cadaver ass ya idiot. I hope his eardrum got blasted out

    sorry, venting.

    Great Shots!!!

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