By Hilary Porter

WHAT an enthralling, entertaining, emotional but mostly hilarious two hours we spent in the company of Madness frontman Suggs!

Devoid of his fellow 'Nutty Boys' with just intermittent piano accompaniment from Rifles man ‘Deano’ Mumford, he kept the Guildhall crowd in the palm of his hand with this his second autobiographical show.

It was a fascinating insight into his crazy 40-year career and somewhat surreal life as he delivered brilliant anecdotes and revealed how fame can have its rewards but its downside too - not that he was complaining.

It started bizarrely with the star of the iconic Ska punk band sitting on a throne, wearing a long black wig and medical coat drawing comparisons with himself and King Canute or Cnut whose self-importance led to him famously trying to hold back the tide.

He draws parallels as he describes trying to hold back the mud and the rain at Glastonbury where on a two -day bender he invaded the stage during Primal Scream’s set, got bundled off by security, lost a shoe in the mud, but sat on an oil drum ‘king of all he surveys’.

As he meandered back and forth to different stages in his 57 years we discover 'Madness' is the one word that perfectly sums up his chaotic mad-cap life: from the younger Suggs trashing the gents toilets at Middlesex Polytechnic to the older star choosing to risk life and limp scaling a roof top to sneak into the back window of the Groucho Club. And the tale about the cat's ashes is priceless!

He paints so many funny pictures in his perfectly crafted script, delivered with impeccable comic timing, from the petty theft of steak and kidney puddings to the illusion created using plastic bags as a motorbike helmet on 'borrowed' scooters.

And then there is the story about his Chelsea football song and ending up up in the front row of ‘the wrong end’ at Anfield, as well as finding himself performing on the roof of Buckingham Palace and almost creating a catastrophe at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games.

A comic thread ran through the evening in the form of Brian May’s hair ! It was quite ingenious how one story ran into another or into a song with references back to earlier stories that mostly served to show how the Queen guitarist is very sensitive about his famous locks!

Showbiz stories sat easily beside family tales and amid the comedy were many references to the support of his mum, wife Anne, and daughters Viva and Scarlett who have kept his feet on the ground.

It was very touching at times as he spoke of his mother's air of melancholy and search for his long-lost sister.

The stripped down Madness songs helped to embroider the stories but we learnt of the songs' backstories too, from classics like ‘House Of Fun‘, 'Our House' and ‘My Girl‘, to snippets of ‘The Liberty Of Norton Folgate‘ and ‘One Better Day‘.

Nutty, naughty but very nice, I feel audiences will be hoping Suggs aka Graham McPherson will return with a third autobiographical show after this - it was so much fun!