Madness – Leeds, 8 December 2009

December 13, 2009

Thirty years on, the Nutty Boys are still going strong!

The crowd in a sold out Academy are ready to skank as Madness appear on stage. Starting with – what a surprise – One Step Beyond, the audience get exactly what they want. Drawing from their back catalogue the problem must be what to leave out. The set list comprises most of the songs you would expect from a group that had 21 top twenty hits between 1979 and 1986, when that actually meant something. I was disappointed that they didn’t play Yesterday’s Men, a particular favourite of mine, but they do a great version of Bread and Breakfast Man from the first album which compensates.

But Madness are not just a nostalgia act, songs from the new album, The Liberty Of Norton Folgate, sit easily alongside the classic material that’s played tonight. Particular standouts are Forever Young and NW5. They finish with a storming version of Night Boat to Cairo, the place goes mental and everyone goes home happy.

It’s 25 years since they last played Leeds, Suggs can’t remember where – The F Club or Tiffanys are his guesses – but let’s hope we don’t have to wait that long again!

Paul Weller – Halifax, 2 December 2009

December 7, 2009

Paul Weller has never been frightened of doing the unexpected if he thought it was the right thing to do: splitting The Jam at the height of their popularity; or destroying The Style Council by recording a House album that Polydor wouldn’t release. This time he’s recording a new album and then touring it before it’s released!

The dread phrase; ‘Here’s a new one’ is heard several times during the course of this evening’s show but amongst a set list drawn largely from his most recent releases; As Is Now and the excellent 22 Dreams, they more than stand up to comparison. His new album, apparently to be titled Wake Up the Nation, is now keenly anticipated in half of this household!

Another unexpected turn of Weller events is the reconciliation with his musical past. Tonight he plays three Jam songs and one by the Style Council, but even these are not the ones you might expect. Start and Shout To The Top yes, perhaps Strange Town, but Pretty Green? Not that I’m complaining – it’s one of my favourite Jam tracks.

I like The Civic Theatre in Halifax – wherever you stand you can see!

Paul Weller seldom disappoints and this was another great night in a fine venue.