It’s Madness: Hong Kong noise police refuse to turn a deaf ear as Suggs and Co get the ball rolling on raucous Sevens weekend

British ’80s pop icons kick off Sevens weekend with raucous show at Sevens Village

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 April, 2017, 1:33pm
UPDATED : Friday, 07 April, 2017, 10:57pm

Madness kicked off the Hong Kong Sevens party in style with a launch concert so raucous the Environmental Protection Department were on the organisers’ case all night regarding the noise level.

The legendary British pop band had thousands singing, dancing and cheering at the Sevens Village in Happy Valley opposite Hong Kong Stadium on Thursday night, after From The Jam – featuring original Jam bassist Bruce Foxton – had warmed them up.

“We’re not for a second gonna suggest we’re disappointed. We thought we were playing over there!” Graham “Suggs” McPherson joked at one point in the set, pointing towards Hong Kong Stadium.

But the noise will be on a whole other level when Madness play to 40,000 people on Sevens Saturday.

On the evidence of Thursday night, they are a perfect fit for the Hong Kong expat crowd – a band that first rose to fame in the late 1970s and ’80s, the older generation were swinging just as vigorously as the younger members in attendance.

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“We lost a lot of good artists this year. The fact we’re still alive is a miracle to me,” the 56-year-old Suggs joked early in the set.

The repertoire of party hits that were rolled out at Sevens Village are almost tailor-made for the Hong Kong Sevens.

Madness started out slowly with some low-key numbers as the rain poured down, but the skies cleared just in time for the party to get going with 1979 hit One Step Beyond.

The band then launched into House of Fun, an apt message for the weekend ahead. Giant inflatable beach balls were being punched around the crowd, many of whom were decked out in flashing LED sunglasses.

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There was even a shout out to an England World Cup winner. “I see you bouncing along in the front, Martin Johnson,” Suggs said, before the band got everyone dancing again with Baggy Trousers.

The set was then closed out with 1980s bangers O ur House and It Must Be Love

“Like all good things, this must come to an end,” Suggs said. “Before the batteries run out of them sodding sunglasses.”

The noise – or lack of – issue was apparently a direct consequence of having the likes of The Proclaimers and Bjorn Again at last year’s pre-Sevens festivities and on the Sunday of the tournament.

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The Hong Kong government doesn’t allow for more than 65 decibels of noise at night – the equivalent of a vacuum cleaner or powerful hair dryer – and have become stricter in enforcing this code because the music went way above ambient noise last year.

It has been a continuous problem for event managers and concert promoters ever since Hong Kong Stadium opened in 1994 as what they thought would be the centre for Hong Kong’s music and cultural scene was told to keep  the noise down because of its proximity to residential areas.