27 Apr Madstock Memories
Saturday 8 August 1992 was a momentous day in Madness history – the first time all seven members had played together since 1985. It also marked an emotional comeback for a band who’d split acrimoniously in 1986, and struggled thereafter. Fans came from all four corners of the the UK – and beyond – to greet their heroes and sing themselves hoarse to every word. Here are their Madstock memories…
GRAHAM YATES: From the moment I opened my copy of NME in May 1992 and saw the advert announcing the return of The Madnificent Seven, I knew August 8 would be a truly special day. I knew that nothing – not even the passing of a loved one – would stop me attending. Having lived through the post-1986 wilderness years, I’d convinced myself that surely I was the last remaining Madness fan. So the news that the seven ragged men would once again be gracing a stage together, and on a direct train line from my hometown, really was the best thing since sliced bread.
ANTHONY WALLACE: I always knew they’d do a comeback. So when the gig was announced I ran straight out, got a tattoo and bought my first pair of DMs.
JONATHAN YOUNG: By 1990, my collecting of all old Madness records had hit levels of obsession. The inevitable question, ‘Where are they now?’ was answered by Divine intervention and so Madstock became my first must-see concert.
CHRIS DABBS: Having followed the band from their first Top of the Pops appearance, and being a member of the fan club right until the bitter end, I was still hungry for more. The gig was just after my 21st birthday and would be the first time I’d actually seen them live.
MARK CHARLESWORTH: For me, it all started with a shopping trip to Birmingham. I was casually strolling towards the Odeon, where I’d seen Madness in 1985, and just popped in to see what the place was like. Glancing around, I clocked a noticeboard and to my amazement the words ‘Madness’ and ‘8th of August’ jumped out at me. I couldn’t believe it. Was it really them? There and then the credit card came out and tickets were duly bought.
GRAHAM YATES: Days were counted down impatiently, tickets were purchased, work colleagues were discovered who unbelievably were also fans and my brother was talked into going. Arrangements were made to meet in The Twelve Pins pub near the park entrance, somewhat naively in the expectation that it’d be easy to find each other as it’s huge and it wouldn’t be that busy…
PAUL LEONARD: On the day itself, I travelled up with my mate on the train. We had nowhere to stay but had a ticket, which was all that mattered. I was 17 and it was my first-ever Madness gig.
STEPHEN STURROCK: It was my first-ever concert too – two days before my 24th birthday.
MARK BUNYAN: My brother had got me a ticket as a surprise – and what a blinding day I ended up having.
FREDRIK RASMUSSON: I booked my ticket by phone from my home in Sweden, and then travelled to London to collect it from a dealer. I still remember how nervous I felt on the way over; had my reservation gone through? Would my ticket be there? I was the happiest man on earth when I finally had it in my hand.
GARRY SCURFIELD: I got the 5am bus from Newcastle straight to Finsbury Park in company with fellow fans, indulging in many liquid refreshments en route.
GRAHAM YATES: I got the train for the 30-minute journey along with all the other assorted shoppers and day-trippers, a smile on my face knowing that I was in for a special day, while they went about their mundane business and didn’t know what they were missing.
WARREN MOYLE: I came up from Portsmouth on a coach with my friend, Dave. We hadn’t really experienced an outdoor gig before and, apart from school trips and visits with parents, hadn’t been to London that much. So getting into the capital and seeing the crowds, and then getting to Finsbury Park itself, was a real eye opener.
GRAHAM YATES: Nothing could have prepared me for the sight that greeted me outside the station – an absolute throng of fans, young and old, some of them singing familiar tunes that I never thought I’d hear sung en masse in the streets again. Each and every one of them was united by a common theme – absolute joy. In that moment, I knew that I was not alone, that the years in my perceived wilderness were a figment of my imagination. This was sheer unbridled joy that ‘our band’ was back together and the realisation that we weren’t alone.
CHRIS DABBS: It seemed like everyone was there for the same reason – to have fun and experience more of what we’d been missing.
MARK CHARLESWORTH: We’d set off for London at 6.30am and arrived at Finsbury Park around 9am as I really wanted to be at the front. We found a spot right by the barrier where the gates were, and spent our time chatting to the people who were already there. I can remember all the signs saying the gig would be filmed for a video, plus the touts milling around selling t-shirts and tickets.
WARREN MOYLE: As we got closer to the park we saw more and more pubs spilling out skins and punks and every kind of youth culture you could think of. The funniest thing was a large skinhead mooning the coach with a large pair of eyes tattooed on his backside.
GRAHAM YATES: There was just such a buzz and so much going on, you really couldn’t take it all in – a barbers was doing a roaring trade in knockdown skinhead cuts; there were queues outside all the shops… people climbing street lamps… cars having to inch their way through the crowds. It was absolutely rammed and finding anyone was impossible, so cans were hurriedly purchased from the nearest off licence and consumed to a backing track of Divine Madness blaring from everywhere, vocally assisted by everyone nearby.
MARK CHARLESWORTH: The poster said the gates would open at 1pm, but they actually opened at noon. I know this as I was sitting by the barrier and was well excited about being down the front. At 11.55am my (now ex) wife decided she needed a wee. I said, ‘Yes, go now as it’s an hour till the gates open.’ Of course, they opened while she was on the loo and she had the tickets in her handbag so I just stood there with the crowds swarming past me. Not a great start.
GRAHAM YATES: Miraculously, given that these were the days before mobile phones, our group somehow managed to assemble. After the obligatory ticket and bag checks we were into the bosom of possibly the biggest ever gathering of Madness fans ever seen before or since.
WARREN MOYLE: Filing into the venue, there was a real atmosphere of fun and elation in the air; it was magical.
MARK CHARLESWORTH: Once inside, a t-shirt and programme were bought – along with a couple of bootleg cassettes – and the wait was on.
STEPHEN STURROCK: I was dropped off at the gate and made straight for the merchandise store where I bought a couple of t-shirts and a programme.
CHRIS DABBS: Having Ian Dury and Blockheads on the bill meant I also spent a lot of dosh on merchandise that day!
STEPHEN STURROCK: After stuffing my purchases down my trousers, I picked a spot just left of centre at the front of the stage and didn’t move for the rest of the day.
WARREN MOYLE: We positioned ourselves fairly far back looking down the hill toward the stage – after experiencing the always-lovely visit to the loos of course.
NEIL GERAGHTY: I went with my then-girlfriend who wasn’t a big fan. Being short arses, we had to find a good spot where we could see, with no one in front of us. We eventually stood against the barrier by the lighting rig, where we had a great view.
GRAHAM YATES: Our afternoon was spent wandering the park, drinking beer and generally having much merriment. One of our group was sporting a t-shirt he’d had printed that read, ‘We all agree…’ on the front, and ‘…Morrissey’s a wanker!’ on the back. The t-shirt was to prove a talking point among any fans that saw it throughout the day, and much head scratching was done as to the choice of the former Smiths man in the line-up. The common consensus was that he didn’t have a place there, which of course was later borne out in spectacular and well-documented fashion.
PAUL PUTNER: I was there, dressed up like an off-the-peg Chas Smash. I remember being interviewed by Clare Grogan for MTV and witnessing a drunk hippy fall out of a tree from a great height. He bounced about five feet.
VINCE HOLLOWAY: I remember some guys climbing on the roof of a beer tent, then sliding down and getting caught by their mates.
MICHAEL LANG: Me and my mate watched a bunch of lads build a human pyramid and the geezer at the top hit the ground hard and never got up. He had to be carried out.
GRAHAM YATES: I almost got talked into getting a tattoo at one stall. Mercifully, despite my refreshed state, my sensible head kicked in and I decided that getting a tattoo off a bloke in the middle of a field wasn’t the best idea.
GARRY SCURFIELD: Clive Langer had kindly put us on the guest list so we had access to the slightly less stinky toilets. I remember seeing Chrissy Boy and he joined us for a pint. It was the first time I’d met him and I felt a touch star-struck.
GRAHAM YATES: My brother and I – Spurs fans both – diced with death by entering into a chant-off with a group of West Ham and Chelsea skinheads but it was good humoured, without malice, and ended with hugs and handshakes all round, such was the bonhomie of the day. We then all united to chant ‘Old McDonald’ at the passing policemen, and even that was taken with good humour, when on any other day a one-way trip to the local nick would have followed.
WARREN MOYLE: We watched the other bands with interest, but in immense anticipation and growing excitement of seeing our heroes for the first time.
JON RATHE: I got a kiss from the girl who played Jackie in Grange Hill, as she wanted to get to the front to see Flowered Up. So that was a bonus.
MARK CHARLESWORTH: We had a few beers watching the support bands and I tried to see if I recognised anyone famous, but only saw Clive Langer.
GRAHAM YATES: I have to confess, partly through lack of knowledge, and partly through lack of interest, the lower end support acts such as Gallon Drunk and Flowered Up didn’t get a look-in – we were having far too much fun wandering the site and generally amusing ourselves.
NEIL GERAGHTY: During one of the support acts, I got a tap on my shoulder and this tall, dark haired fella with a lanyard and camera asked if he could climb over the barrier. He proceeded to climb the rig and film what was going on, but I thought no more of it. When he finished, he climbed down and asked me to hold his camera as he climbed back over the barrier. Once done, he said. ‘Cheers’ and off he went. It was only then that I realised it was Mike Barson himself. I asked my girlfriend if she’d seen him and she replied: “Mike who?” It was never gonna last.
STEPHEN STURROCK: I enjoyed all the bands, especially Ian Dury and Morrissey.
HERBERT LEE: Ian Dury WAS amazing and I also thought Morrissey was great.
GRAHAM YATES: I’d seen Uncle Ian once before when he supported Madness at a Christmas gig at the Lyceum with The Music Students, but this was the first time I’d seen him with the Blockheads. My memory of his set is a little fuzzy but I know I enjoyed it – he really was a master front man. Next up was Morrissey, so amidst noises of ‘Fuck that, who wants to watch him’ we adjourned to the bar again. I didn’t get to see anything of him, other than from a distance, and hearing that he wasn’t going down well.
MARK CHARLESWORTH: I don’t remember much about Morrissey as I was wandering around, but I knew once he’d finished it wouldn’t be long before Madness came on. But of course he left the stage early when he spat his dummy out, so we had to wait even longer to see our heroes.
GARRY SCURFIELD: The liquid refreshments continued and the dance moves improved. The atmosphere was unreal, with everyone mingling, and eventually I found a good position near the front middle.
GRAHAM YATES: We’d found a place close enough to have a decent view, but far enough back not to be immediately in the battleground at the front – although that would all change later of course. Despite the amount of beer I’d drunk through the day, I sobered up completely about 15-30 minutes before Madness came on.
CLARE MARSHALL: I was there, complete with a dislocated knee. I didn’t get involved down at the front but I sure wasn’t going miss it for a mere dislocation.
GRAHAM YATES: You could almost touch the anticipation and the atmosphere going through the crowd: Would all seven actually be there? What would they play? Would there be any surprises?
MARK CHARLESWORTH: By now, we weren’t too far back and it was filling up nicely all around us. Then suddenly there was that famous moment ….
GRAHAM YATES: The lights dimmed and the familiar lines blared out over the PA system: ‘The only performance that makes it…’ The resulting roar from the crowd said THIS is the moment we’ve waited six years for. And that same roar grew to a magnificent crescendo as seven figures took to the stage and stood as one at the front, drinking in the sight before them.
GARRY SCURFIELD: I can recall the Jagger intro… the lights… the smoke… and then suddenly the band were walking on stage. The noise was MENTAL.
MARK CHARLESWORTH: It was absolutely deafening; like nothing before or since.
GORDON DAVIDSON: I counted them all as they stood there, because nothing much had been right since Barso left, so it wasn’t just the post-split years that were being healed in that moment.
GRAHAM YATES: It was a sight we thought would never happen in those dark days of 1986, but here it was, right before our eyes – they were back and each and every one of us was there to share that moment.
DAVE SMEDLEY: That moment when they just stood there was absolutely electric
GRAHAM YATES: Just thinking about it never fails to bring goosebumps and send a shiver down my spine. It seemed to last forever and possibly did – 36,007 of us, joined in absolute joy, passion and admiration, standing there in complete awe of each other for what seemed like forever. The video footage just doesn’t capture that moment; only those of us present will ever truly understand it or know what it felt like. And then, of course, it was broken in the only way it could be…
J RICH CROSBY: Once Carl shouted, ‘HEY YOU!’ it was lift-off; the whole of Finsbury Park exploded.
STEPHEN STURROCK: I just remember BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! and the place went nuts, with this tidal surge to the front of the stage.
GORDON DAVIDSON: I went absolutely roaring mental.
GARRY SCURFIELD: Whack! It felt like all my ribs exploded at once. Such was the tightness of the crowd, it was like I was hovering above the ground.
HERBERT LEE: I’d been right at the front since the opening act, yet suddenly I was much further back – but at least I stayed on my feet.
PAUL LEONARD: There was this massive surge and suddenly we were on the deck, with huge amounts of people piled top of each other. Luckily we all got up.
WARREN MOYLE: You could actually feel the earth shaking.
MARK CHARLESWORTH: For the next hour-and-a-half it was a non-stop karaoke and dance-a-thon.
GRAHAM YATES: We were dancing and singing every word at the top of our voices, getting crushed and not caring, falling over and being helped up and generally being part of the most wonderful and uplifting experience you can imagine. Each and every one of us had the biggest shit-eating grin that ran from ear to ear; the Madnificent Seven were riding again!
DAN FOSSARD: My girlfriend at the time suffered from epilepsy and fainted then had a massive fit as it all kicked off. I shit myself. Luckily a big group of skinheads nearby realised what was happening and managed to form a circle around us to hold back the heaving crowd. Unbelievably, they succeeded and we all then carried her out of the crowd at head height. And all this while 36,000 people are jumping up and down all around us. Possibly one of the scariest moments of my life. After spending most of the day in a fairly good spot about 20 metres from the front, I eventually watched the gig from the back.
STEPHEN STURROCK: I ended up in the middle of the mosh pit as part of a huge pile of bodies – I’d never sweated so much before. Stripped to the waist, I just danced when I got a wee bit of space. It was magic; I’ll never forget it. What an experience.
WARREN MOYLE: It went by in a flash but also lasted an age – particularly for my friend Dave, who was dying for a pee from about half way through and wouldn’t go to those lovely loos on his own.
GARRY SCURFIELD: I remember disappearing off into the guest area to use the posh bogs and grab a pint. Had a bit of banter with Louise Vause who followed me back out, trying to squeeze our way into a decent viewing position stage right.
WARREN MOYLE: I still remember a couple of goosebump moments. The first was when the backing track for Wings of a Dove failed and the crowd started singing ‘Ole-ole-ole Madness’. And then at the end, when Woody was drumming out the beginning of Madness and the giant M above the stage started to light up. After it was over, it was with great sadness that we left, still watching that M flashing away. But what an amazing day, seeing our heroes and being involved in one of the greatest gigs I’ve ever seen.
J RICH CROSBY: It has to be the band’s-greatest ever live performance.
GRAHAM YATES: What a day – easily the one I’d choose as my Groundhog Day – emotional doesn’t even begin to cover it. I’ve never experienced anything like it before or since, and that includes numerous gigs, cup finals and other similar events. It was a day of pure unbridled joy that will live with me clearly to the grave.
MARK CHARLESWORTH: What a fantastic day. On the way out I bought a giant poster and headed home with it under my arm. Of course, I still have it.
GARRY SCURFIELD: I knew I had just experienced a wonderful piece of musical history that would live with me forever. But for now, it was back to the bus and safely home to Newcastle for 5am. Twenty four hours of joy. Done.
STEPHEN STURROCK: When it was over, we got out into the street and my mum and auntie drove by and picked me up. I two stone lighter but still high on a cloud.
PAUL LEONARD: We didn’t have anywhere to stay, so decided to sleep on the floor of Euston Station. It was worth it.
HERBERT LEE: As well as the earthquake that had gone before, I remember there was thunder and lightening as we made our way back up the A1. What a day!
The day after Saturday’s epic earthquake, 36,000 fans and seven men from North London did it all again – minus a miffed Morrissey.
JONATHAN YOUNG: Day I had sold out before I could raise the pocket money, but there was no way I was going to miss Day II. So on the Sunday, I headed to London, helped by signs on the Tube pointing the way. It was my first time ever at a concert and would be an unforgettable experience for the teenage me. Once at Finsbury, I stepped over a pile of Morrissey faithfuls who were wailing at the news of his shock departure, then weaved past a Portaloo with a sign telling me I might be filmed. It said Madstock would be the name of the next video and album, and we were all to be a part of something.
MARK FERRIER: I remember when Gallon Drunk came on, people stood up – then when they started playing, everyone sat down again. They were shite.
JONATHAN YOUNG: Gallon Drunk annoyed with a din, then Flowered Up grooved us weekenders with a more mellow vibe for the times. We then got our first glimpse of Suggs as he danced across the stage to say hello, and later a rotten Sex Pistol popped his head out. But it was Ian Dury that captivated and rocked the crowd to a frenzied pitch. The inspiration connection wasn’t clear to me then, but I knew of Rhythm Stick and the sound of the band was thrilling – my first live music experience and I was loving it; my cherry popped by punk’s safety pin as the sounds hit me, hit me, hit me. It was my only gig by Ian, so also a treasured memory for that reason.
DARREN HERBERT: It was very rough again down the front during One Step Beyond.
JONATHAN YOUNG: The crush of the reaction to Madness, front row and centre now mightily stepped beyond that, a combination of pure dancing joy and panic surfing a wave of riotous fans. I survived it until House of Fun, my favourite at the time, before retreating that lion’s den for a more mid-crowd view. The seven men weren’t ragged this day; sharp suited… shades… an umbrella… they looked the part, every bit the returning pop stars, Lee Thompson in kilt and builder’s hat ascending a wire and stealing the spotlight. We got a setlist packed with all the crowd-pleasing singles, early album tracks with a nutty live edge for the more faithful, and a standout cover version to whet the appetite of potential new sounds. Land of Hope and Glory lives long in my memory for the playful joy between Suggs and Thommo, as does an encore of Prince Buster performing two of his ‘best writings’.
DARREN HERBERT: Me and my mate met two birds from Liverpool who nicked our tray of six pints of snakebite. I also remember a load of skinheads trying to tear open the beer tent when it closed.
JONATHAN YOUNG: Madstock lived up to its clumsy pun title, just as a generation of hippies class their Woodstock the seminal moment in their time, this Madness reunion was ours. Meant more tongue-in-cheek at first, but a moment of seven men standing in a line, arms raised, caused hearts in mouths, then sang out over 90 minutes or more at dusk, as Mr Smash ‘Hey’ed’ YOU and all of us into an earthquake of reaction. It must have been a love-in.
DARREN HERBERT: It was a nightmare to get home afterwards. I had to walk to Arsenal tube station. I can’t remember too much now but I’m in the official DVD at the beginning in the crowd for two seconds. God my hair was awful.
* Thanks to everyone who contributed their memories. To add yours, email firstname.lastname@example.org