A lot of Suede fans held their breath when they announced they were releasing new material…..Is this a good idea? Or was it best to leave us with our memories of the glamourous Suede classics of the mid nineties?
I for one, did not doubt them for a second. Having been a regular at their gigs both back in the early nineties, and since they started on their reunion stint a couple of years ago I was thrilled , but not surprised when they produced what has to be the album of the year so far in ‘Bloodsports’. No doubt in years to come it will be spoken about in the same breathy tones as ‘Dog Man Star‘ .
The setting of Alexandra Palace for this one-off (apart from the warm up gig in Nottingham) performance showcasing their new masterpiece may seem strange but then again it also seems quite apt. They are both glamourous and a 7,000 capacity hall for what is essentially a ‘comeback’ to many people’s eyes (regardless of the fact that they have been doing a smattering of gigs for the past two years ) may seem a tad adventurous but then that is also typical Suede. They have never been the type of band to toe the line or do what’s expected of them.
Perfect opening track ‘Barriers’ is treated like an old favourite with a vast part of the crowd singing along to every word with the passions and fervour that Suede songs have always warranted. The achingly desperate cry of ” but will they love you, the way, the way I loved you?” rebounding from stage to crowd and back again. Goosebumps on the first song, that doesn’t happen very often.
It is quickly apparent that Suede are not relying on past glories to bulk this gig out, as ‘Snowblind ‘ and ‘It starts and ends with you’ quickly follow, indeed why should they rest on their laurels when the new material is this good?
That’s not to say that the old favourites aren’t treated as conquering heroes and Brett seems to be transported back twenty years as the majestic strains of ‘Animal Nitrate‘ open up and he decides to throw himself to the mercy of the crowd, the crowds reaction has remained unchanged in twenty years and he emerges from the frantic throng with shirt barely intact. Brett Anderson has still ‘got it’ and he doesn’t really have to do much to prove it.
He’s certainly not the only one to get pulses racing tonight, as guitarist and keyboardist Neil Codling cuts an imposing figure in his all black attire and with his movie idol good looks his presence onstage is getting a fair few comments – mainly from an appreciative female sector of the crowd.
Continuing on the brief nostalgia trip with ‘Metal Mickey‘ and I’m already hoarse from singing along to every song so far – a night with Suede is not for the faint hearted as it is a (mostly) fast paced and energetic romp when they suddenly break into old fan favourite ‘Sleeping Pills’ is interjected with the audible sigh of swoonsome appreciation from the crowd indicating their joy that such a beautiful song has been given an airing at such a big gig setting and by following it with ‘sometimes I feel I’ll float away ‘ as it seems to continue with the emotional roller coaster and proves that they can do it just as well now as they did back then.
The sleezy seductiveness of ‘Filmstar’ and ‘Killing of a Flashboy’ launch us back to Suede as we best love them – with a hint decadence – and once again Brett is launching towards the crowd and it is hard to tell who is enjoying it more.
On a personal level, I was thrilled to hear two of my favourites ‘Pantomime Horse’ and ‘The Drowners’ as I know from past experience that these aren’t always on the setlist. It also has to be noted that tonight could possibly be the night that people have finally said “Bernard Who?” as they marvelled at Richard Oakes technique on the guitar, and instead of the usual ( and somewhat unflattering) comparisons people seemed to be genuinely appreciating his prowess.
Just when you think they have nothing left to give, they save possibly their two most famous songs as a preamble up to the encore and the crowd reciprocate by giving singalongs that lift the roof off the Palace, the likes of which has probably not been seen before….. Both band and crowd claiming ‘Trash’ and ‘Beautiful Ones” as their theme tune for the night and possibly for the rest of their lives.
Returning to the stage to Mat ‘s pulsating bass and Simon’s pounding drumbeat of ‘Sabotage’ from the ‘Bloodsports’ album it’s only a brief respite before Brett announces “we’ll we have to play this one” and unsurprisingly ‘Saturday Night‘ once again gets everyone in the singalong mood.
It’s amazing to believe, as Brett has also pointed out to us this evening, that it is 20 years (almost to the day) since their debut album was released. Some of the people here in the crowd tonight wouldn’t have even have been born then, as Suede not only have the die hard older fans but an emerging new fan base …..never has the last song of ‘New Generation‘ seemed more appropriate .