There was a swell of anticipation throughout Hastings town on the 21st May 2016. It was the day that Hastings put itself back on the map as a significant destination for live touring bands. Madness were announced as the first act to kick off this new era for Hastings Pier. What an appropriate choice that was. Suggs, the frontman and vocalist for Madness announced to the crowd that when he was a boy, his Father used to take photographs from Hastings Pier, not only that but he was born in Hastings back in 1961. It definitely felt like a homecoming, on more levels than one.
Madness brought back their timeless hits for the hordes of music fans from all different sub-cultures. The presence of skin-heads and old-school punks was immediately present, but families, what appears to be executives in suits and just your average everyday people were there too, waiting for this locally significant event. Bottle Alley (an alleyway on Hastings seafront decorated with broken glass in the concrete walls, hence ‘Bottle Alley’ for those that didn’t know) was filled with even more pedestrians seeking shelter from the rain hoping to catch an earful of the British ska legends. Meanwhile, some people situated themselves on the beach with tents or rain umbrellas and there was even two mad men in the sea enjoying some of the timeless reggae and ska classics being played by the DJ live on the stage before Madness came on.
Madness live on Hastings Pier
Madness hit the stage with ‘Embarrassment’ and the crowd immediately exploded into applause and dancing. The quality of the audio aside, the band sounded phenomenal. Suggs‘ voice has seemingly not aged at all, they sounded just like they do on record still. Men, women and children alike could be seen ‘skanking’ along with the music whilst singing along at the tops of their lungs. Even with all the rain and miserable clouds, the spirit of Hastings simply could not be squandered. The said spirit stayed up all the way through the bands set and even on a little cock-up on one of their songs where they had to start again, the band were clearly still having a great time. At least twice, vocalist Suggs had to acknowledge how awesome the sight of all these people showing up was with the crazy backdrop of Hastings behind them.
Hastings Pier truly set itself apart from most live stages I’ve ever been to; festivals, arenas and clubs alike. Growing up and hearing stories of all the great and timeless bands and acts from all genres such as swing and classical in the ‘50s, rock and roll in the 60’s and 70’s and dance/house in the 90’s made me clamour for that live music experience myself. Now that time had finally come and it was almost overwhelming seeing how the rest of the town responded. People stuck it out all night to hear the encore songs that, if you are from the UK is almost like a part of the soundtrack of our lives. Songs such as ‘House of Fun’, ‘Baggy Trousers’, ‘Our House’, ‘It Must Be Love’ and ‘One Step Beyond’ could be heard from practically anywhere in Hastings as the town sung in unison for this quality & timeless band.
This was the first of (what we hope to be) many shows on Hastings Pier. Later on this year, there will be shows from Happy Mondays and Levellers..