Welcome To The House Of Ska…

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Nearly a year ago, I wrote about my newly-found regard for tribute acts, inspired by a Complete Madness gig. Since then, I have seen the Yorkshire-based Madness tribute band play a few times, and with each performance has come an elevated appreciation of their talents. Having seen a number of other tribute acts during the past year, including an unlikely looking One Direction (more like Wrong Direction!), and an Olly Murs who reappeared later in the show as Bruno Mars, I still believe that Complete Madness are one of the highest calibre tribute acts you will encounter.

Comprising of founding members Mark Keegan (lead vocals) and Derek Wood (guitar), alongside Dave Potter (keyboards), Jeff Thompson (drums), and relative new boy, Tom Regan (saxophone), one of thOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAe main reasons they achieve such a high standard is that the band emulate rather than imitate, ensuring that each show is indeed a tribute to the original Nutty Boys. Where it is not uncommon for some tribute artists to sing along to a digitally-enhanced backing track, usually whilst performing a dodgy dance routine, Complete Madness are musicians who play live. As for dodgy dance routines? The only dodgy thing you’ll find when they are on stage is Derek’s knee!

With this in mind, you can imagine my excitement when they agreed to perform at my House of Ska evening (see below for details) on 9th May, in Ashford, Kent. Maintaining the high quality of music throughout the evening, Complete Madness will be supported by my favourite local band, Skatacus. Based in Kent, they are a seven piece band which plays a broad mix of covers, from traditional Ska numbers through to popular Two-Tone classics. They also perform their own original material, such as “Ska Wars” and “Let’s Skank”, written by guitarist, Neil Hughes. Led by Mark Chappell (drums/vocals), the band also features Paul Friend (keyboards), Justin Homewood (bass), and a powerful brass section, in the form of Delia Hazrati (saxophone), Jon Hone (trumpet) and Alex Oliver (trombone). If that’s not enough to make you want to channel your inner rude boy or girl, there is also a strong possibility that a special guest or two may make an appearance!

Located in the centre of Ashford, Revelation St. Mary’s is an10003927_755288591157691_454993643_n functioning church, which has also operated as a music and arts venue since 2011. Playing host to a wide variety of artists, from The Orb (pictured) to Courtney Pine, Toploader to The Lightning Seeds, Revelation St. Mary’s offers not only a unique quirkiness but, with nearby parking (free after 6pm), and Ashford International Station a short walk away, it is ideally situated too.

Tickets are on sale now, available online or from the outlets shown below. We look forward to seeing you there!

House of Ska poster

 

 

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A Tribute With Attributes

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In general, I’m not a big fan of tribute acts. Often, in an attempt to pay homage to the act they admire, they actually end up verging on the wrong side of parody. Beware the 80’s tributes with “Bootleg” in their name. There’s a good reason why the word has negative connotations! One band that has changed my complete dismissal of all tribute acts is Complete Madness, a Madness and Ska tribute band.

I saw the Yorkshire nutty boys perform at Pontins, Camber Sands last Friday. The venue may not have been too impressive, but that didn’t stop Mark Keegan and Co. creating a Ska party to remember. From the minute they set foot on stage to final note of their encore, there wasn’t a still foot in the place. As well as Madness favourites like “It Must Be Love”, “Baggy Trousers”and “Night Boat To Cairo”, the band also performed Ska classics such as “Too Much, Too Young”, “Lip Up Fatty” and my personal favourite, “Monkey Man”.

Saxophonist, Dan Johnson displayed not only talented musicianship, but a sense of balance most ice-skaters would envy, spinning round in circles whilst continuing to play, à la Lee Thompson.

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Frontman Mark Keegan exhibited an incredible energy as well an incredible voice, which adapted apparently effortlessy to the vocal demands of the set. Here is a man who clearly loves what he does, and the audience love him for it.

ImageIn fact, it is the synergy between the band members, under Mark’s lead, that sets Complete Madness above the rest. Individually, they are all talented musicians who would give their Madness counterparts a run for their money – Derek Wood on guitar and backing vocals, Dave Potter on keyboards and Jeff Thompson on drums. However, together they make for an exceptional act, with which even the most ardent Madness fan would struggle to find fault (although, for me, Jeff would have to wear a Woody mask to properly emulate to my favourite member of Madness!).

You don’t have to take my word for it. With a busy schedule of gigs running through to next year, there is bound to be one near you. If there isn’t, it’s worth going that extra mile to see one – you won’t be disappointed. Details of Complete Madness gigs for 2014 are available at: http://completemadness.net/gigs/2014-2/