HERE’s the good news – the iconic British ska group Madness are still as nutty after all those years on the road.

Now for the bad news – if you missed their concert at Westonbirt Arboretum last night you’ll have to catch them live elsewhere.

But be quick to book a ticket – by the looks of their 2022 tour schedule most of their gigs are already completely sold out.

That just goes to show the love the London-based group engender from their legions of enthusiastic fans.

It was given back to them in spades at Westonbirt where they arrived on stage to rapturous applause and left it to cries of ‘more’, ‘more’.

Over the past 40-odd years, Madness have been responsible for some of the best-known pop compositions in the UK singles charts after hitting the music scene big-time in the mid-1970s.

When they started out they were a seven-piece band, mostly from Camden Town. Nowadays, they still perform with six of the original group members.

The group have been together since 1976 and quickly developed the ability to capture the mood of their generation with songs that sparkle with the spirit of British life.

From the minute they stepped on stage and hit the riffs to “One Step Beyond”, they had the crowd in the palm of their hand.

As the set list rolled by, all the classic hits such as My Girl, Baggy Trousers, Embarrassment, Grey Day, House of Fun, Driving In My Car, Our House and Wings Of A Dove came and went.

They were interspersed with newer songs, such as NW5, Mr Apple and the latest, Baby Burgler, which reflects on teenage years misspent on petty criminality.

Many in the crowd are wearing Madness t-shirts, and red fez hats, and there’s a fair sprinkling of older men in long jackets and dark glasses.

But everyone in the crowd it seems, knows every song and are soon dancing away while singing along.

The thing about Madness is they generate love and receive it back in abundance. At Westonbirt, the audience was good-natured and the evening thoroughly enjoyable.

I’ve never been a big Madness fan, but even I know most of the songs, and can sing and dance along with the rest of them.

The Madness gig is part of Forestry England’s ‘Forest Live’ concert series and also featured special guests, The Farm, and support act Emily Capell.

The only downside to the whole evening was when my wife and I left at the end of the concert to drive home. We ended up sitting in the car for more than an hour trying to exit the grounds.

If Westonbirt wants to continue hosting Forest Live concerts it really must improve the exiting so that concert-goers can leave more quickly.