00/00/79 One Step Beyond/Swan Lake (Magpie)
Suggs goes AWOL (a Chelsea away day?) so the band go live and instrumental! A trusted and erudite member of Madness insists that this was the band’s debut television appearance so we can guess that they had been originally planning to perform ‘The Prince’ and maybe ‘Madness’. It’s all a bit of a puzzle as ITV were on strike from the 6th August until 24th October so ‘Magpie’ was not broadcast during that period. It is of course possible that this performance was recorded in very early August (with ‘The Prince’ about to be released) but then not shown until ‘Magpie’ returned to our screens in November. If so, it does seem like a very early start for the “nutty train” though. Whatever the case, we can only hope that this particular episode of ITV’s groovier answer to BBC’s Blue Peter escaped the wrath of the archive wiping police and that it still exists somewhere out there. Apologies for the poor quality and short length of the clip I have posted but it’s the only one I’ve ever been able to track down.
06/09/79 The Prince (Top of the Pops)
No earthquake may have been erupting (erm, isn’t it volcanoes that…) but the sound of 2-Tone was about to shake up the charts. A fresh-faced Madness (Suggs and Bedders are still only 18) appear on the not-to-be-missed chart show and it’s an exciting, confident and original performance, typified by Chas and his dance stances. Host, Peter Powell gets some help with the band’s introduction from a skinhead from the audience who is standing next to him, proudly showing off his braces. A leathered Cliff Richard, meanwhile banishes everyone from his stage area as he sings his no. 1 towards the end of the show however Suggs’ suit can be spotted sitting in the background before skulking off on realising it’s within camera range.
20/09/79 The Prince (Top of the Pops)
Now in the Top 40, Madness are on Top of the Pops again with this porky prime cut and it’s a somewhat similar performance to last time out. Suggs and Chas are looking sharp suited out front again while Lee’s saxophone has impressively grown from baby to baritone in just two weeks. Madness had already signed to Stiff Records at this point, with whom they would charm their way into the charts over the next five years.
08/11/79 One Step Beyond (Top of the Pops)
The 2-Tone tour is underway and Madness appear on the same edition of Top of the Pops as former label mates, The Specials and The Selecter. With Chas on the mic for this one, Suggs takes on sax duties with Lee who in turn leads the band on a ‘nutty train’ through a fez wearing audience. All except Woody that is, who stays put behind the kit, next to his cardboard chum, Walt Jabsco. This performance was repeated on the show two weeks later.
11/12/79 Bed & Breakfast Man/Night Boat to Cairo (The Old Grey Whistle Test)
“Shut up, listen and dance”….Madness skank their way through their homage to John Hasler before the low foghorn sounding B♭ on Lee’s sax signals the ‘Night Boat to Cairo’ and the stage is overtaken by some sort of dance explosion. It’s winter and probably chilly outside as Suggs dons his crombie overcoat, bowler hat and scarf. This still ranks as one of Madness’ best live television performances, probably my all time favourite anyway…and so good that the programme earned a repeat showing on BBC2 the following evening.