Poole, Lighthouse


Graham McPherson or “Suggs”, lead singer with Madness as he is known to the world is certainly a chap who has led an interesting and varied life. A one-man show featuring songs and anecdotal stories from is life is certainly an interesting proposition. Personally, I have been a Madness fan since seeing the “Nutty Boys” on Top of the Pops, I purchased the vast majority of their singles/albums and religiously took them home playing the A & B sides hundreds of times on my briefcase record player.

I got to see them live for the first time at this very venue (Then called Poole Arts Centre) for the first time in 1981 when I remember seeing “Suggs” dressed in a tartan suit cavorting about the stage. After being suitably warmed up by local Madness tribute duo Total Madness featuring the talented Ian Cliffe and Graham Clark at the George Hotel just over the road, I take my seat along with hundreds of other Madness fans in anticipation of the night ahead.

Suggs arrives on stage to a huge warm welcome from the Poole crowd; who are amazed at all by the fact he is even playing this gig tonight, as his beloved Chelsea are playing Barcelona in a very important Champions League game. The show kicks off with “Suggs” wearing a long-haired wig making him look really unrecognisable, as his stories develop he explains how this came about on a rather drunken weekend at the Glastonbury festival in 2009 where Madness played a headline set. The night before the band was due to play he and his son-in-law (to be) was given the keys to a rather well-stocked bar and frivolities ensued. The wig enabled the inebriated Suggs to freely walk around the fields of Glastonbury without getting stopped by hordes of fans asking for a ‘Selfie’.

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The chat is mixed with various stripped-down versions of Madness/Suggs songs accompanied by pianist Deano. We are treated to various gems including “Alcohol”, “House of Fun”, “Our House” and a few snatches of a song he wrote for Chelsea FC “Blue Day”. Suggs has perfect timing and a fantastic delivery which charms the audience throughout. The stories keep coming and all of them are seamlessly linked, with a constant running joke about Brian Mayís big hair and a cheeky football chant about ëCeleryí, which both hilariously pop up in various segments. His natural ability to stand in front of a crowd and deliver has given him the title of “the Tommy Cooper of pop”. This show has everything you could ask for – from the start to the finish Suggs is fully engaging the audience with interesting and enjoyable stories, which make for one really enjoyable evening worth every penny of the ticket money.


Words & Pictures by Dave Chinery (Chinners)

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