Madness – Live Review – Scarborough Open Air Theatre


By Rob Siddle, August 2017

On a lovely Yorkshire summer’s evening, Scarborough Open Air Theatre plays host to an adrenaline-fuelled night of ska classics from one of the great singles bands of the late 70s and early 80s.

Beautifully set in the cosy venue, with the fresh sea air blowing through, friends, families and couples alike join forces in anticipation of the band taking to stage. As the sun sets behind the stage, smoke fills the performance area as drummer Dan Woodgate leads out the seven-piece to the roaring delight of the awaiting crowd.

Following the set list from the current outdoor venue tour, a brief few words of welcome from Suggs and the band rip straight into ‘Embarrassment’, much to the delight of the crowd.

Madness live review Scarborough open air theatre saxophone

“Brimming with energy”

The sheer range of fans of all ages from young to old is surprising. Generations are here en masse to witness the masters of ska do what they do best – entertain.

As the band pick off a few slower numbers, the excitement of the tunes to come is apparent. There’s a great atmosphere from people who are truly out for a good night.

For me,the  crowd-pleaser of the night is saxophonist Lee Thompson, who spends the show brimming with energy, gifting the crowd with a range of items he magically makes appear throughout the set and ensuring crowd interaction is high on the agenda.

Indeed, this isn’t a band ‘going through the motions’ as I feared. One colleague suggested if I really wanted to get the ‘Nutty Boys’ experience these days, I’d be better off seeing one of the plethora of tribute bands or the musical, Our House. But I needn’t have worried: This is a great show, with a band looking and sounding as good as ever.

Madness live review Scarborough open air theatre crowd

“Timeless pop tunes”

Throughout the hour and a half set, Madness up the ante as the show goes on from new tune ‘Mr Apples’, to classics like ‘Wings of a Dove’ to a breathless closing quintuplet of ‘One Step Beyond’, ‘House of Fun’, ‘Baggy Trousers’, ‘Our House’ and ‘It Must Be Love’.

The crowd are in sync throughout, singing from the bottom of their hearts. From the little ones at the front, all the way up the tiered seating, young and old are on their feet.

As the band leave the stage to chants of ‘we want more’, a two-song encore sees a spectacular evening draw to a close. The band thank the crowd for the support over the years then leave through a mist of smoke.

A great mix of nostalgia and timeless pop tunes. Madness are still some of the best entertainers in the business.


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