By their own admission, support act Caravãna Sun are far from a household name. Think of them more as a beach shack name – through years of rigorous touring, the Sydneysiders have become favourites at folk festivals and coastal spots around the country. Tonight is their biggest show in their hometown to date, and it’s clear from the moment they emerge from the wings that they are not about to let this moment go to waste.
For the uninitiated, the quartet blend their love of roots, rock, reggae and ska into a hybrid that is full of life and vibrancy. Even the cross-armed early arrivals – who are very clearly only here for the name that’s brandished across their T-shirts – are quick to warm to what the band has to offer. From their layered harmonies to their full-scale jams, everything within the Caravãna Sun canon is meticulously crafted and vividly brought to life. By the conclusion of their set, an initially stiff reception has warmed into loud singing and more than a few dancers. That’s point one to Caravãna Sun – onwards and upwards seems to be the only direction these guys are aware of.
It’s been a good eight years since Australia was last treated to perennial ska oddities Madness, but as they casually stroll onto stage and assume their positions, it feels like nothing has changed. The band is still intrinsically British – self-deprecating, yet stylish and sure of its movements.
Suggs and co. are still in possession of some of the greatest singles of theirs or any other era – the onslaught of their five biggest singles arrives at the end of the main set to a ferocious, deafening reception as a timely reminder as to their legacy. They even get away with throwing in a few numbers from last year’s Can’t Touch Us Now LP without anyone making much of a fuss – Amy Winehouse tribute ‘Blackbird’ is a rare moment of touching sentiment; while the oddball ‘Mr. Apples’ holds its own against the band’s titular anthem and the triumphant ‘Night Boat To Cairo’ in the encore.
Madness are an inherently lovable collective and a formidable live act, and the rapturous reception that the fervent crowd gives to even the most obscure numbers of the night are a testament to that. Truly, like it needs saying, it must be love – nothing more, nothing less.
Madness played the Hordern Pavilion on Saturday April 15. Photo by Ashley Mar