The Newark Festival is a 3 day festival based in the centre of the Nottinghamshire town. When it has been held and who has played has varied from year to year. Initially a tribute acts line-up this year it’s reached the pinnacle of proper headliners.
Saturday was Madness night, heralded by a significant number of Fez wearing two toners in the audience. The evening opened with Siblings a four piece of drum and guitar who are one of the acts being promoted by the BBC under their BBC Introducing scheme promoting unsigned acts. Siblings’ set was a mix of lively and mellow songs closed with ‘Colours’.
Next up were By the Rivers, a young reggae band from Leicester consisting of guitars, keyboard, drums and even a brass section. They opened with One Word and also offered a dedication of Don’t Say You Love Me for a lucky lady called Sarah. Delivering great reggae helped ensure the steadily growing crowd warmed to them.
Also enjoying the set from the stage pit were members of Yes King – the next band up.Yes King, effectively the warm-up for Madness, started their tour at the festival. They are an eclectic mix with nine members who are not all on stage at the same time covering vocals, bass, guitar and brass section.
They started with Mystro (Digmund Freund – not a typo) as front man, giving his distinctive hip-hop flavour to the first two songs. Next to lead were Mel Uye-Parker and Ríoghnach Connolly providing vocals to a mellower musical vibe ranging between smooth reggae and upbeat SKA. Mystro returned for the closing song.
Finally what most of the crowd were there for Madness. One of the original bands when SKA emerged in the mid 1970’s, all seven members mostly from Camden, North London. They opened their set with two classic Madness songs One Step Beyond, featuring Chas Smash’s instantly recognisable introduction ‘Hey you, don’t watch that watch this…..’ andEmbarrassment.
Unfortunately, it soon became apparent there was something wrong with the sound. As they left the stage Suggs said they would be back when the problem was sorted out. Returning to the stage Suggs said they’d reboot the set. To refresh themselves for a new start both Suggs and Chas produced a bottle of their recently launched ‘Gladness’ ale brewed lager.
The new drink follows the launch of ‘Trooper’ ale, introduced recently by rock’s Iron Maiden. Following on from Embarrassment they followed with the song that made them famous, The Prince, and NW5 from the mid- noughties. After singing My Girl, from their very first album they introduced, Oui-Oui-Si-Si-Ja-Ja-Da-Da, the title track from their 2012 album.
The crowd were loving it, singing along to With the Wings of a Dove and many others. They played the crowd well, offering a practised set cover many well-known songs meant the false start was soon forgiven and forgotten.