by GE 138
I rushed over to the House of Boooooo's right after band practice. I called the box office to confirm that my passes were all there, and they told me that the band doesn't turn that stuff in until a half hour before the show. Chrissy Boy had already confirmed that everything was there, but I was just a bit nervous that the venue was going to fuck everything up, but thankfully they didn't. When I got there, everything was accounted for. All was right with the world. :-) So I raced back outside to grab my camera and weed from the car, and then raced back inside to get into position to take some photos of the band. I had never shot (with permission) bands playing this venue before, so I wanted to make sure I was in a good position when the band came out. The place was fucking packed. The show had sold out days after being announced, and even though there was a rumor that Madness was going to play another gig the next day, it never materialized. Oh well. That just made those of us in attendance all the more luckier, because after watching the bands performance at Coachella just the day before, I knew this night was going to be a memorable one, just like the last time they played Vegas back in 1998 @ Texas Station with the Reverend Horton Heat opening up for them. Man that was one sweet gig. What I can remember of it anyways. ;-)
So I waltz back into the place and head directly to the front, working my way through the packed like sardines in a tin can crowd, chatting up Security about what's allowed, what's not, etc., and I see that my friend Josh is up on stage playing some tunes under his alias, Jr. Ska Boss. I forgot he was the opener and I was happy to see him up there. I would of been happier if he wasn't playing some crappy Rancid while I was standing there, but that's just me. ;-) He was in the middle of mixing one song into another when some roadies came out from the darkness of the side stage area and lifted up the little fold up table Josh had set his gear up on and moved it off of the stage. It was a good/bad thing. Good because it meant Madness was coming up. Bad because it meant the Jr. Ska Boss set was over. Josh waved and the crowd applauded. It was a cool thing to see. Congrats Sir! Kudos.
It wasn't too long of a wait for Madness to come out and play. Like ravenous dogs who were about to be fed for the first time in months, the crowd was howling with anticipation. The electricity in the air was thick as the band members strolled out to a thunderous ovation from everyone in the place. Chas, looking as suave as ever, grabbed the microphone, did the intro to One Step Beyond, and the floor shook as everyone in the place started jumping around and skanking about as Madness played their traditional opening song. Fantastic!!! I was snapping away like crazy, taking shot after shot after shot, with the reverberations from the speakers directly in front of the stage making using my camera on the Automatic setting pretty much impossible, so I had to take all my shots Manually. All in all I'd say they came out pretty good. Most of them anyways. After my 3 song shooting limit was over, I snuck into the front row right against the rails and watched the rest of Madness' set from there. Their opening songs were soooooooooo good, and after that, it was just a non-stop barrage of classic Rock Steady and Ska beats from the band, covering everything from their early stuff like The Prince, Baggy Trousers, Bed And Breakfast Man, Madness, to mid-period material like The Sun And The Rain, It Must Be Love, Grey Day and Our House (of course), and even later stuff off of their excellent last release, The Liberty Of Norton Folgate, like NM5 and Forever Young. They didn't do We Are London from that release though... rats. I would of seriously scalped someone to get them to play that song. Maybe next time, no? ;-) They even did the Dangermen rendition of I Chase The Devil AKA Iron Shirt, which was a bit of a surprise. I usually hate covers but for Madness, I will always, always make an exception. They do them so well ya know! They did nothing off of Wonderful though. I was sad. I thought they were going to play something from that album when I saw Chas pick up an acoustic guitar. I was thinking they were gonna do Johnny The Horse but alas I was not that lucky this evening. I would of loved to have heard Lovestruck as well. I fucking LOVE that song. Le sigh. Madness couldn't play enough hours of the day for me to hear every song I'd like to hear them play, but what they were playing tonight was like sweet, sweet candy to my ears.
They sounded sooooooo fucking good! All members firing on all fours, except for Bedders, their bass player, who was not present for some reason. I noticed that while watching the bands performance at Coachella the day before. I didn't wanna say anything about it to the band afterwords but I was seriously dying to know. I'm gossipy like that, so what? Everyone else that was there was spot on. Suggs was in fine form, acting every part the Showman, with his voice sounding just as good as ever, and his interaction with Chas while singing with him was like watching 2 experienced boxers putting on a display of showmanship for an overly appreciative crowd of fans and friends. The jokes were flying back and forth, and the punches they lovingly threw at each other didn't leave much of a mark. Watching the chemistry between those 2 is addicting. Mikey sat behind the keyboards looking all regal and shit and kept everyone in the band on point, tickling the ivories and playing the memorable melodies and stanzas that have made Madness into the international pop phenomenon that they are. He used to dance around while he played though. Old age perhaps? I hope he's sitting down now by choice and not because he has to. Chrissy Boy is a vastly underrated guitarist, and he plays through some amazing, jaw dropping vintage equipment, Marshall and Les Paul all the way, and with this ass kicking combination as his weapon of choice he accentuates all things musical in the band while wearing a hat with a video camera strapped onto it to capture everything as it goes down. Sometimes he posts the footage he takes on the Madness YouTube channel, so keep your eyes peeled for that up there sometime soon hopefully. I sure would love to see it... hint hint.
Bedders stand in did OK, but he was vastly overshadowed by the close proximity of Lee, who stole what little of the spot light fell on the poor bloke. Lee is the Jester of the band, doing stuff purely to amuse himself, like set the microphone stand up as high as it can be set up to, and then having to jump up that high to do his back up vocals, but yet he knows people are watching, and that they're laughing with him, and not at him. He's like a little kid. In a band full of distinct, individual personalities, where almost everyone in the band is vying for the public's attention, Lee will make sure he gets noticed, standing head and shoulders above everyone else. Easily. To prove this point, I bring up Woody. I didn't really pay attention to Woody all night, and I usually only watch the drummers! LOL I was too busy watching Lee! Everytime I looked up at Woody, he was there, on the beat, chewing gum with that half smile, half smirk of his. He's been doing that for years. I love seeing it. I love seeing Madness. Being able to watch them perform twice in the past 48 hours has my head in a spin. The crowd inside the HOB is keeping the energy levels high. The room is festive, it's full of Love, and I'm loving that I'm right there in the middle of it. Madness play a much longer set than they did at Coachella the day before, and they go off stage to regroup, come back out after a bit of prodding from the crowd, do a few more songs, and just like that, it's over and done. The house lights are coming on and for some reason Chas comes back out on stage butt naked, wearing only a towel around his waist, and as he's saying something to the crowd, Lee crouches up behind him and yanks that towel right off of him, leaving Chas just standing up there doing the Full Monty and not giving two fucks about it one way or another. He raced after Lee backstage and that was it. Madness was done. It was definitely a 'you had to be there' kind of thing, but that's how the whole night was. You had to be at this show. If you missed it you're a fool. It's not like they play Vegas all the time ya know! I'm trying to put into words just how phenomenal this gig was, and, of course, failing miserably. Madness was amazing. Simply fucking amazing. Epic, as the kids might say. ;-) It was sooooo much fun.
And afterwords? Well, things just got even more fun if you can believe that! ha ha ha After the gig I raced out front to grab some swag, and I got everything the band had for sale except for tee shirts, because they didn't have any in my size. I said hello to a few people while I was out there, and then I raced back in to head back stage to partake in all the bands drugs, food and booze, all in that order. Not really. I just sat around with the band bullshitting and catching up and drinking whiskey and tequila straight out the bottle with Lee and Chris, watching while people would come up to try to chat the band up, and the guys would just blow them off like the smart asses they all are - "Oh, you saw us play before at a venue? Wow, you are certainly unique! Not very many people can say that, right?" Most of their comments were going right over people's head, but I was catching every one of them, laughing my ass off while the people asking the questions or saying whatever just stood there looking stupid and befuddled. I grew up watching Benny Hill and Monty Python, I understand the British vernacular, but once the whiskey gets flowing, everything they say is pretty much up to interpretation. It was after this bit of boozing that the Steel Panther incident I mentioned already took place. Click here to read that little story if you haven't already. Yeah, the night just ended up a blur, with all of us wandering around the casino like the drunken louts we all are, and once the band was dead set on going to iHop for breakfast, I knew the night was done. I tried to take them someplace good for breakfast, but they wanted iHop, because they don't have iHops in England, so I bid them all adieu and was on my merry way. I headed to my car and fought the sunlight filled day on my way to the Maple Tree Cafe for some real breakfast, where I ordered everything and ate nothing, and then I headed home, where I kippered my bed as soon as I got there, because I had band practice in a few hours. Perfect ending to an fantastic weekend of Madness. <3