The title says it all. “Can’t Touch Us Now” declare Madness with breezy confidence, and the evidence comes loud and clear. It’s there in their history, in their achievements, in their canonical pop classics. It was there on the Glastonbury Pyramid Stage this summer, when the band blew away the cobwebs and the clouds with a sparkling greatest hits set that also shone with a couple of newies and a lovely David Bowie tribute in the shape of a heartfelt cover of Kooks.
“We were going to do All The Young Dudes but that a felt a bit pompous for us,” says frontman Suggs with typical self-awareness and self-deprecation.
And that untouchability was also in evidence at London’s Royal Hospital in August when Madness, in inimitable style – and really, literally no other band could have done this – unveiled their 12th studio album before a magnificent audience of Chelsea Pensioners. One British institution paying respect to another British institution.
Best of all, though, the proof of the unique status of Madness is there in the songs on that new album. Can’t Touch Us Now is the bold, lively, energetic sound of six writers, six lifelong friends, six Mad men playing at the peak of their powers.