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Forest Live 2022 review: Suggs and Co put on a show bringing Madness to Thetford Forest



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I'm pretty sure the last gig review I did for SuffolkNews before we lived life in pandemic lockdown was this Camden Town crew with their rock-steady beat.

But after waiting two years, as Madness were set to grace the Forest Live stage at High Lodge in Thetford Forest in a sold-out gig in 2020, it felt only apt to see Suggs and Co finally make it there on Saturday night.

With many things changing due to Covid-19, it was great to know I was in safe hands with a a band who are timeless and give you the ultimate chance for a sing-song and a party.

Madness, who headlined the closing concert for Forest Live 2022 at High Lodge in Thetford Forest. Picture: Lee Blanchflower.
Madness, who headlined the closing concert for Forest Live 2022 at High Lodge in Thetford Forest. Picture: Lee Blanchflower.

Fresh from their set at this year's Isle of Wight Festival, and after a slight downpour whilst we waited which saw a sea of fezzes joined by ponchos and hoods, Madness hit the ground running with One Step Beyond and the opener with 'the nuttiest sound around' had the crowd going from the get go.

With the rain stopping for a bit, the band took no time at all by going straight into 1980's track, Embarrassment, closely followed thick and fast by classics The Prince, NW5, My Girl and The Sun and the Rain.

That unmistakable sound of Madness echoing out into the forest brought me nostalgia and the knowledge that we were all in for a fantastic night - as the group still looked like they loved what they have been doing for more than 40 years together.

The ska group formed in 1976. Pictures: Lee Blanchflower.
The ska group formed in 1976. Pictures: Lee Blanchflower.

The fast-paced fun of The Wings Of A Dove kept up the carnival mood as the darkness crept in and Lovestruck went out as the rain had another try but failed to spoil the party.

I had lost count of the songs Madness had blitzed perfectly from their back catalogue, but it must have been in double figures, as they hit the heights of House of Fun, Baggy Trousers and Our House giving me and my father-in-law, Kev, a chance to dance in the rain - my personal highlight from a brilliant gig.

Madness at Forest Live 2022 in High Lodge, Thetford Forest. Pictures: Lee Blanchflower.
Madness at Forest Live 2022 in High Lodge, Thetford Forest. Pictures: Lee Blanchflower.

It Must Be Love gave the set an official song-a-long send off, but in true Madness fashion they did not stay off the stage too long before returning for two encores - Madness, and for their adoring Fez-heads, Night Boat To Cairo - before slightly wet pork pie hats, blow up saxophones and the aforementioned headwear were taken home after a fantastic night.