I've always had a soft spot for Madness. Back at Raeburn Primary School in the late 1970s, you were either a mod (you liked The Specials, The Jam and Madness) or a trogg (you liked Rainbow and Status Quo - we were all a bit too young for really heavy stuff).
I was the former, which I proved by wearing a Harrington jacket every day, no matter the weather.
We weren't really old enough to be into LPs, but I had a load of singles.Someone bought me Start by The Jam for my 11th birthday and I picked up Do Nothing/Maggie's Farm by The Specials from the record stall in Birkenhead Market that sold ex-juke box discs with the middle bit popped out.
And Embarrassment by Madness was the first record I ever queued up to buy. I can remember waiting at the door of Damar records in Bromborough, brimming with ridiculous excitement at the prospect of getting my hands on the follow up to Baggy Trousers.
So I was made up on Saturday night when, straight from their trademark One Step Beyond opener, Suggs & Co launched straight into their ode to the pregnant teenager. It sounded as good as it did 30 years ago.
It's amazing that this is the first time I have ever seen the band live, given that I've liked them all these years. I suppose it's that I 'like' them, not worship them in the creepy way I've followed The Waterboys and a few others over time.They're neither in fashion, nor out of fashion. They're just Madness - or so I thought.
I had to revise that opinion on Saturday. Live, they are just magnificent. There were nine band members on stage, creating a kind of Ska Pop hybrid supported by 20,000 backing singers. By the time the Madness/Night Boat to Cairo double-headed encore was done, you could feel a mad, jubilant energy fizzing around the racecourse. I've been to Haydock many, many times - mostly to see the racing but also to see bands occasionally - I honestly don't believe the old course has ever been bouncing in the same way it was this weekend.
It was a different crowd too. Haydock has hosted big names in the past few years. They're not my cup of tea but I'm sure Simply Red and Tom Jones pulled the punters in - just not these ones. Most of the people there were blokes, about my age, about my weight and about my waist size. There were a few baldies, a few skinheads and a few crewcuts. There were lots of pork pie hats and, most certainly, not a hippy in sight.
For most of them - and it includes me - the whole night was a chance to forget you were a 40 something bloke with a paunch - and jump around to Bed and Breakfast Man like you were still a teenager. The main reminder of what a rash decision that was came the next morning, when I could hardly walk.