Freeheat : London King’s Cross Water Rats

t’s called growing old disgracefully...

Enough time has elapsed since the demise of the notoriously cranky and argumentative Madness that one of the group’s central brothers, Jim Reid, can make a return, in full confidence he’s alienated his entire old audience.

And that’s no bad thing. A new generation of heads are waiting to be experimented on with the kind of dissonance, noise, and melody Freeheat bring to rock’n’roll. No longer studiedly cool, and less likely to antagonise an audience than ever before, Reid, Ben Lurie, Romi Mori and Nick Sanderson turn their semi-supergroup into a vehicle for songs still too abstract and jagged at the edges to elicit an immediate, salivating, Pavlovian response.

Yes, the audience is still overtly boisterous and some people here obviously miss riots at gigs, but we should cut Freeheat some slack. Trace an arc from ‘Shine On Little Star’ to the Keith Moon tributes on ‘X-Moon’ and the continued relevance of - and reverence for - a certain type of old-school rock remains. And the varied contributions by everyone involved ensure there’s more than a glorified solo Madness nostalgia trip at stake. But, in a nutshell, the angry-bee buzzing guitars are as liable to chop heads off as ever. It’s called growing old disgracefully.

Dele Fadele

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