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My Life Story review – fluent portrait of Suggs as the next national treasure

Suggs: My Life Story
Hanging on the telephone? Suggs in My Life Story

It takes a while to get into its stride, but this filmed record of Suggs’s autobiographical stage show in London’s Hoxton Hall is amiable, fluent and often intriguing. Graham “Suggs” McPherson is the working-class lad and unreliable narrator who came up through the vibrant meritocracy of the 70s pub-rock scene to become lead singer of one of the biggest pop bands in Britain: Madness – without ever seeming to care about or even notice the celebrity status for which today’s X-Factor generation yearn. Director Julien Temple uses some of his trademark archival footage for Suggs’s Soho and west London memories; there are clips of the band in their extreme youth, with some cod-dramatised scenes as Suggs goes in search of information about his late dad. But mostly, and wisely, Temple lets Suggs do the talking on stage: cheerily inviting the crowd to sing along as he goes into bits of his greatest hits. He’s got a very distinctive singing voice; speaking, he sounds weirdly like the actor Kenneth Cranham. It’s probably better live, but this screen version is entertaining as Suggs continues his stately process to national treasure status.

Watch the trailer for Suggs: My Life Story
This article titled "My Life Story review – fluent portrait of Suggs as the next national treasure" was written by Peter Bradshaw, for The Guardian on Friday 12 January 2018 07.00am


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