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It would be madness to miss evening with Suggs

WELL, who'd have thought it? New Year's Eve and the prize for best entertainment of the night goes to – cue fanfare – RTE. Granted, en route to the great stuff you did have to put up with the likes of the Coronas (arguably the most nondescript band ever to have emerged from this country –which is some achievement in itself) but once they cut to Madness the job was in the bag.

Performing on College Green as part of the official end of The Gathering (a gig which Dublin's Lord Mayor seemed to think was free rather than €25 a ticket) the band looked and sounded absolutely fantastic. There were some idiots who complained that an Irish act should have headlined this event but bands from this country, with 20 Top 20 hits and a cross-generational appeal which stretches from toddlers to pensioners, are pretty thin on the ground so the Nutty Boys it had to be.

A closing run of Baggy Trousers, Our House, It Must Be Love and Madness put the seal on a marvellous evening with chief ringmaster Suggs grinning like the proverbial.

It was quite an end to some year for the erstwhile Graham McPherson, given that he published his autobiography That Close and also undertook a short run of a one-man show, My Life Story in Words.

Essentially, this is a retelling of key sections from the book with 'occasional musical accompaniment and pointless interjections from his loyal pianist- cum-manservant' and it sounds pretty special. I once spent an afternoon with Suggs back when he was promoting his solo single Blue Day (he's a Chelsea fan, too) and can confirm that his skills as a raconteur are impeccable.


Given that the book itself is a cracking read, covering everything from discovering that his missing father was a heroin addict to becoming immersed in the Soho demimonde through his jazz-singer mother, days as a teenage football hooligan and, of course, how joining Madness opened up a whole new world for him, this should be an entertaining night out. Not to be missed, even if it is a while away.

Suggs performs My Life Story in Words at the Olympia on May 10.

> George Byrne