Brilliant Madness bring Fez-tival feeling to Thetford

Madness performing at Thetford Forest on Saturday, June 18 2022

Madness performing at Thetford Forest on Saturday, June 18 2022 - Credit: Lee Blanchflower

Thetford Forest was filled thick with the rock-steady beat of Madness who after more than 40 years proved they still had it - and some.

The hottest day of the year on Friday gave way to rain and thunder on Saturday but that could not dampen spirits as the Ska stars, who originally formed in 1976, did their thing as only they can.


Madness performing at Thetford Forest on Saturday, June 18 2022

Madness performing at Thetford Forest on Saturday, June 18 2022 - Credit: Lee Blanchflower


It was a sell-out and Madness sure did not disappoint their adoring fans; young, old and some even older.


Suggs, the band's charismatic frontman, led the party like no-one else can, joking with the crowd: “If it wasn’t for monkey pox I’d be down there among you".


Madness performing at Thetford Forest on Saturday, June 18 2022

Madness performing at Thetford Forest on Saturday, June 18 2022 - Credit: Lee Blanchflower


And like a golden-crusted juke box Suggs and co belted out hit, after hit, from One Step Beyond, Wings of a Dove, Our House, House of Fun, Bed and Breakfast Man and of course Baggy Trousers.

It was something of a Fez-tival atmosphere too, as wearers of the iconic Moroccan hat descended on the forest in their thousands to dance, sing and be merry to the sounds of the North London band. 


Madness performing at Thetford Forest on Saturday, June 18 2022

Madness performing at Thetford Forest on Saturday, June 18 2022 - Credit: Lee Blanchflower


It was a reminder of how much we had missed during the past couple of years or so with coronavirus sending the country into a series of lockdowns.


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It was something Suggs himself referenced stating "Ain’t it nice to be out and about” after performing a new song penned during the pandemic.


But despite the gloom of coronavirus and the dull and overcast weather, Madness certainly brightened up the whole of Thetford Forest with their sunny, sensational brand of Suggs-soaked Ska.


Madness performing at Thetford Forest on Saturday, June 18 2022

Madness performing at Thetford Forest on Saturday, June 18 2022 - Credit: Lee Blanchflower


Before closing with It Must Be Love, Suggs said:"What a beautiful crowd we’ve had tonight but all good things must come to an end”.


The gig, part of Forestry England's Forest Live concert series, followed shows by Keane and Rag 'n' Bone Man in the days before. 


Liverpool band The Farm, synonymous with their 1991 classic All Together Now, were part of the support for the night which also included Emily Capell.


But it was Madness most had come to see and just like a vintage, fine wine they showed they were still improving with age.