Yesterday afternoon a collection of East End residents, men of the cloth, famed architects and Suggs gathered high in the rafters of Shoreditch’s Light Bar to dispute the lawless ‘Liberty’ of the Norton Folgate area – home to none other than creative zeitgeist Tracy Emin.
The ‘Liberty’ of Norton Folgate in Spitalfields lies between the jurisdiction of two police stations which therefore makes it ‘impossible’ to enforce law. And while that may not be the case now, last century Norton Folgate was a thriving hub of artists, poets and bohemians, excluded from the city and instead occupying their own ‘city’ under their own rules.
It all sounds rather fun and romantic – which probably explains why Suggs and the rest of Madness have used the concept of the Liberty to influence their new album – which is named after the unusual area. And so, to announce the arrival of their first album in 10 years, Suggs got together with Dan Cruickshank, Dinos Champman and the London mayor’s town crier, Peter Moore to re-establish the liberty and discuss issues which would affect it’s residents – including care for the poor, the role of the church and, most importantly, the price of beer.
We spoke exclusively to Suggs about his new album and this very unusual meeting, wondering what it was about the history of the Liberty which appealed to him so much:
“When I heard about the Liberty of Norton Folgate, I thought it was a great name for a song. Then, when I started researching it, I realised that it was this place full of people who couldn’t get in to the city. The outsiders. The artists, the poets – the people like Madness. I just found it really apt at the moment – I am so aware of the fragility of communities at the moment – and Norton Folgate was a zeitgeisty, vibrant place.”
“I always knew Madness had one great album in them and i think this might be it. The bohemian utopia of Norton Folgate just inspired something, the idea of defending the past against progression? It just got me thinking. We always had a lot of unfulfilled potential, but this album will resonate with everyone – from the crowds at Exit to the crowds at Sonar”.
The album will be released on Monday 18th May on the band’s own Lucky Seven label.