Among the best-loved bands of the 70s and 80s, Madness championed the two-tone ska revival and bowled over fans with 15 top ten hits.

Next week the band, still led by Graham ‘Suggs’ McPherson and featuring most of its original line-up, pitch up at Newbury Racecourse for one of the al fresco gigs of the summer.

With a history going back to 1976, the band and their songs remain hugely popular. What, I ask Suggs, is the reason for their longevity?

“I think the reason we endure is that we genuinely do enjoy ourselves,” he says. “From the very beginning you could see the joy in the early videos we made and hear it in the records.

Those songs include One Step Beyond, Baggy Trousers and It Must Be Love and chart-topper House of Fun.

Suggs adds: “The fact that we were friends before this band started is key. I genuinely think the whole spark or art of craft and creativity was a by-product of our friendship. I think that’s what people feel. It’s a genuine experience. It’s not manufactured. I can’t ever remember being onstage and feeling fed up with the people around me.

“It’s been very flattering and marvellous to see so many different age groups enjoying the band. We are looking forward to this on the tour – people of all ages.”

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And he’s looking forward to the racecourse show.

“Racecourses are great. We’ve played a few in the past where there have been a few races and then you get a bit of Madness. It’s an unbeatable combination.

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“I have a few flutters every now and then and have a bit of luck on the horses. I’m not a gambling man generally but I like it when you can see the steam coming out of the horses’ nostrils and that whole thing in front of you. I do like it but I’m a terrible loser, which has been my saving grace as far as gambling is concerned. It’s stopped me getting too involved.

“I did wake up with a greyhound in my bed once. We had been to a charity auction at Walthamstow dog track and there was an auction for the greyhound and we won. I came home with a greyhound, which my wife was quite thrilled about. He did alright actually we called him Nutty Boy and he went on to win quite a few races.”

He laughs and goes on: “That was quite a nice time and the nearest I ever got to be an Alex Ferguson-esque racehorse owner. Turning up at the track as a dog owner was quite an experience.”

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So how will he keep himself match fit for this and his run of other summer shows?

“It’s like preparing for war, a war of fun y’know?” he grins.

“A war of fun and frolics but, unlike the Romans, we are going to unleash heaven.

“I have a suspicion that if I didn’t have a few tequila shots before I went onstage I wouldn’t be quite as lubricated in the joints.

Tequila and orange juice is the secret of keeping those limbs loose! I suppose our rituals are now so ingrained that I don’t notice what the rest of the band are doing!”

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Despite the length of the band’s tours, they always manage to sound fresh. Surely that’s not all down to tequila?

“Traditionally, we don’t tour for months and months,” says Suggs. “We gave up on America and they probably gave up on us.

“Touring for years on end is what drains the lifeblood out of a lot of acts that I see. Each tour we do we try and make unique – and special.

“We can change the setlist nightly if we wish. The main thing is to keep it exciting for yourself, that’s the way to ensure the audience is kept excited too.

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“I’m really looking forward to the racecourse show.

“It really feels like a tour of the people in places where they can have fun – where we can have fun.”

Harriet Collins, Director of Marcomms for Newbury Racecourse said: “We are really looking forward to welcoming Madness back to Newbury. Always popular, tickets have been selling fast so we would encourage anyone hoping to attend to make sure they book in advance. We have got plenty of additional activity taking place across the site with live music throughout the afternoon, our customised human hedges will be happy to pose for pictures and we are putting in additional seating.”

Go along:

Madness play Newbury Races next Saturday,August 17. To join the thoroughbred fun buy an on-the-day ticket: £55 for Premier tickets or £40 for the grandstand.

A ‘House of Fun’ Racegoers Restaurant Package starts at £145 per head, and features Grandstand enclosure ticket, three course lunch, tea or coffee, a racecard and a complimentary bottle of wine– with the chance to enjoy Madness live after racing from a private balcony to give the best view in the house.

Visit newburyracecourse.co.uk to book a spot and join the fun.