Festival preview: Suggs: My life story in words and music; Queen’s Hall

Suggs attempts to make sense of the Madness in his Fringe show
Suggs attempts to make sense of the Madness in his Fringe show
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FRONTED by Graham ‘Suggs’ McPherson, Madness’s ability to craft catchy, bittersweet ska-pop songs about working-class family life in 1980s London saw them become a national treasure.

Songs like Our House, Baggy Trousers and House Of Fun struck a chord with millions, and continue to do so. All of which explains why the band were invited to perform at the grand display of Britishness that was the Olympics closing ceremony.

Speaking about their involvement in last Sunday’s star-studded event Suggs says, “The Olympics was amazing, extraordinary. It was a real honour to be asked.

“It was all a bit top secret who else was playing... a bit like that programme Stella Street,” he continues. “I had Pete Townshend next door, Liam Gallagher in the room next to him, the Spice Girls next to him... but it was a very jolly evening. An amazing atmosphere in that stadium for sure.”

The madness (excuse the pun) continues for Suggs as he prepares to bring his autobiographical one-man show to the Fringe next week, for a four-night run.

“I’m so excited to come to Edinburgh, really thrilled,” says the affable and unfailingly polite singer with his familiar cockney accent. “I really can’t wait to get up there.

“I was going to postpone it to next year, because there’s just so much momentum in the band at the moment, so much going on. But I’ve never been to the Festival before, so I was very determined to get my little show up there so I could have a look around.”

As for the show itself, Suggs says, “We were trying to think of some highfalutin title for it, but in the end it is what it is. It’s my life story, in words and music.

“The catalyst was that I was 50 at the beginning of the year, and I was lying in the bath on the morning of my 50th birthday when my cat fell off a shelf and died.

“I could tell just by looking at the odd angle of his body that he was dead. I couldn’t believe it. I loved that cat.

“It then triggered this strange deluge of emotion. My two daughters had recently left home, I was 50, with half of my life gone, and now the cat was dead. My first thought was that God hated me.

“But then I started considering my own mortality and, out of that, the idea of exploring my past crystallised somehow.

“It got me thinking ‘well, why don’t I try to write it all down and turn it into a show?’

“So, basically I just kind of go through my childhood to meeting the band as teenagers and all the running around and craziness of being a teenager in London.

“And then there’s all the ridiculousness of 30 years in the business they call show.

“I’ve got a keyboard player and a guitarist with me and we sing a few songs like Baggy Trousers, which is obviously about my time at school, and on we go...”

Suggs: My Life Story In Words And Music, Queen’s Hall, Clerk Street, 7pm (Aug 21-24), extra show Aug 24, 10pm, £22.50, www.edfringe.com

Going to see Suggs’ show? Tweet a review to @edinburghpaper using the hash tag #EENreview