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Review: Madness at Ibiza Rocks, 13th August

We went, we lost our voices singing and naturally, we wore black and white. Madness or Ibiza - difficult to say which rocked more.

Madness at Ibiza Rocks. For a moment, when I heard the news, my brain couldn't quite cope with the sensory overload. Alternate flashes of divine beaches and the best parties ever, combined riotously with an internal soundtrack of Our House and memories of embarrassing teenage crushes.

Cursing myself for having held onto neither my vintage 1970's boating blazer nor my magnificently (fake) fur-lined fishtail coat, I consoled myself with some dodgy black shades, a black ‘n' white, vintage 2-tone tee-shirt and gleefully, off I went.

Ibiza Rocks Hotel, location of the weekly Ibiza Rocks party, is in the centre of San Antonio. We parked in the big, free car-park just behind Café Mambo and it was a two minute walk from there to the gig. Sweet. Arriving at about 9.30pm, we were just in time to catch Hollie Cook crooning a cool, laid-back, dub-infused remix of The Whispers classic 1970's tune And the Beat Goes On. The volume was a little low though and the quickly expanding crowd, though appreciative, were clearly hankering after the night's legendary headliner. Holly herself performed beautifully with her family's musical talent shining through and her self-proclaimed ‘Tropical-pop' style was an enjoyable and appropriate warm-up for the Madness boys. Daughter of Helen Kerry (of Culture Club fame) and Sex Pistols drummer, Paul Cook, Hollie did the family name proud.

We grabbed a drink (pretty reasonable prices for Ibiza - €6 for a beer, a soft-drink or 2 bottles of water) and made our way to the front as the Ibiza Rocks resident DJ took over, slamming out favourites such as Bad Manners' Lip up Fatty and The Specials Ghost Town. Evidently bang on mark, the crowd, eager to get stuck into some classic Madness era tunes, were lapping it up. There was much raucous singing along and jerky, exaggerated walking-standing-still ska-style dancefloor moves. I counted 17 assorted pork-pie hats, a myriad of trilbys and generally, more dashing millinery on display than you see at the Ascot races, dear reader.

This gig had attracted not only a hugely diverse and equally excited age-group quite literally ranging from 16 to 60, but also many of Ibiza's hardest working business owners were arriving in throngs. It's a sure indication of how well-loved a band are when whole possies of sound-engineers, restaurant owners and empresarios of all kinds take time off, in the middle of August, to come and see a gig. On an island where the majority have just 4 short months to work and earn enough for to live on for the entire year (the peak of the frenzy being August) this does not happen often, I assure you.

MUSIC | Great okaylist of Madness classics to enjoy while reading our review!

As the DJ counted down the minutes to the band's arrival, the place began to heave with people. It was truly packed out. Then with an excited announcement, a flash of light and a thunderous intro to Night Boat to Cairo our heroes finally appeared on the stage. And joy of joys. Suggs, (sporting his trademark black ‘n' white stripy tee-shirt and black shades) had clearly coordinated his outfit with mine! Day MADE!

Suited and booted, the boys (honestly) looked barely any different to me than back in the day. Clearly in the mood to indulge their adoring fans, they proceeded to belt out a barrage of their best-loved tunes. Embarrassment came next, followed by The Prince, at which point, vocalist Suggs confided to the delighted crowd with obvious amusement that he'd “just been offered half an e." Ooops! And before you ask my naughties, no, he didn't take it!

After much guffawing and cheering from the crowd, the band went on to perform some of my their best-loved tunes including My Girl, Shut Up, House of Fun, It Must be Love and Our House. By this time the entire place had been swept up into a singing, jumping, grinning mayhem. Imagine the delight of a few thousand hungry, frisky puppies who've just been thrown their favourite bone and you're coming close, although happily nobody (not even me) went as far as peeing uncontrollably on the floor.

The stage set was cool and very Madness. Simple, with lots of signature black and white touches, from Suggs' aforementioned tee-shirt, to a huge black and white keyboard and the VJ projecting old, classic black and white film footage onto the backdrop. The wind/brass section, comprising baritone and tenor saxophones plus trumpet was rich and fat-sounding and the entire band were as tight as a duck's derriére ladies and gents. A special nod of awe goes out also to the sound guys who managed to produce a flawless, perfectly balanced audioscape. Not easy to achieve with such a large, live band. Full respect.

A couple of newer tunes like ‘NW5' and surprise covers were thrown in too. Guitarist Chris Foreman belted out a hearty version of that loved-by-almost-the-entire-World Beastie Boys classic You've Got to Fight for Your Right to Paaaaarty! Their version too of classic Reggae tune Chase the Devil received an enthusiastic roar of approval from the crowd.

It was so good to see proper professionals at work. Originally forming almost 40 years ago, Madness have inspired no less than three generations of music-lovers with their down-to-earth lyrics, energetically catchy, cheery tunage, meticulous musicianship and unpretentious attitude. Hell, even their more sombre tunes make me smile and sing. Madness write about real life - cars, girlfriends, families, communities. It's easy to relate to their subject matter. Madness are homies. That's we love ‘em so much.

The finale, Baggy Trousers, was greeted with joyful hysteria. The entire place shook with riotous singing and the stamping of feet as the hotel arena transformed into a gleeful Ska-frenzied mosh-pit.

And of course the crowd screamed for more. Incredibly and most uncharacteristically for Ibiza and its usually uncompromisingly strict sound restrictions, they got it. KUDOS Ibiza Rocks! They let them back on and we were treated to not just one, but two magnificent encores, One Step Beyond and Madness. It was too much. Abandoning my notepad, pen and any semblance of control, I jumped around like an absolute loon.

Not envying the DJ who had to follow such a legendary performance, he chose about one of the only tunes on the planet to pretty much guarantee a happy exit from a gig that nobody wanted to end: Monty Python's Always look on the Bright Side of Life. A stroke of genius, may I say.

It's a gig that will be forevermore on my ‘will never forget as long as I live' list. Well played, Ibiza Rocks. Very well played.

WORDS | Jane Charilaou PHOTOS | Ibiza Rocks

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