Suggs: What a King Cnut!

Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow

Four Stars

THIRD time lucky. After snow and then fire had twice postponed a visit to Glasgow for Suggs’s second autobiographical show back in March the Madness front man finally made it to Glasgow with this broad comic riff on his life in and out of the band.

Taking the idea of the rock and roll raconteur holding forth at the bar and giving it a theatrical makeover, Suggs enthusiastically played the part of an alcohol-fuelled front man getting pie-eyed at Glastonbury, recalling the petty thievery that got Madness up and running and forgetting the first line of Our House while performing in front of a TV audience of billions during the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympics. All of which came with the odd break into song when appropriate.

In some ways the songs were the least of it. Despite the best efforts of his pianist “Deano,” they were often mere music hall singalong punctuation. Fine enough when it’s a tune like House of Fun which always had that in its DNA. But when Suggs ventured into the more thoughtful end of the Madness songbook on One Better Day, the song’s empathy and compassionate observation felt slightly at odds with the beer-burping tone of the stories that surrounded it.

That said, by the second half, for all the fun Suggs has at the expense of Bono and Brian May’s hair, a warm welcome sentimentality begins to creep in as he raises a glass to the late, lamented Amy Winehouse and we get to hear more about the singer’s family.

Still, it’s a show played primarily for laughs. And Suggs combines adroit physical mugging and a sly facility with language to make the most of comic anecdotes that involve a bag of feline ashes, pigeon excrement and Chelsea football fans.

All in all, the theatrical equivalent of that pleasantly woozy feeling you get after two bottles of wine.