Suede

Suede at Rock City, Nottingham, England, April 17, 2019,

Apr 23, 2019 Photography by Shaun Gordon Web Exclusive
Bookmark and Share


Mention the phrase "Britpop" and it's hard not to do so through gritted teeth. Its legacy giving birth to a legion of uninspiring, feather cutted, and fishtail parka wearing lad bands believing their "real music with real instruments for real people" makes them the CAMRA of rock and roll. 

Yet when the phrase was first coined things were so different. Bands like Pulp, Blur, and their arch nemesis Suede were crafting intelligent pop inspired by master craftsmen of the past (messrs Walker, Davies, and Bowie respectively) with a timeless feel that made it feel anything but retro. The past was theirs and the future really was ours. So it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that the more mainstream Britpop became, the more all three of the three aforementioned shied away from it.

In the case of Suede, they've always remained something of an anomaly. The classic "outsiders" as it were, if you'll pardon the pun. Even their arrival at the height of grunge dominating the airwaves was greeted with raised eyebrows, their show stopping performance at the 1993 Brit Awards ceremony still one of the finest pieces of live music television captured on camera.

The eight albums they've delivered over the course of the band's three decades of existence have rarely coincided with a drop in quality bar one obvious exception, which predated Suede's seven-year hiatus in 2002. However, since their return, the band's recorded output has been of a consistently high standard, culminating in The Blue Hour, released last September to a wave of critical acclaim. 

So it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that every single UK date on this promotional tour for said album was sold out well beforehand. Not to mention Suede's long standing relationship with Nottingham's Rock City, having played this venue several times previously, including a memorable comeback gig just after the release of Bloodsports back in 2013.

Tonight's setlist as expected is weighted heavily towards The Blue Hour, with six songs from their most recent album receiving an airing tonight. Haunting opener "As One" eerily introduces the show, yet it doesn't take long for frontman Brett Anderson and the band to burst into life. "No Tomorrow" and "Outsiders" off 2016's Night Thoughts follow, with Anderson careering around the stage in the same manner as he has for nearly 30 years. Each and every syllable impeccably pronounced throughout what is a flawless vocal performance.

For a band with such a vast back catalogue to choose from not to mention a fanbase collected across the eras whose demographic ranges from 16 to 60 and beyond, the balance between their '90s and post-hiatus material carefully (and exquisitely) selected.

Those that came primarily for the hits receive them in abundance. "So Young," "Metal Mickey," "Animal Nitrate," and "The Drowners" represent their 1993-released self-titled debut album's collection of 45s in full. While "We Are the Pigs," off critically celebrated second album Dog Man Star, also sounds as fresh as it did when originally dispatched back in the autumn of 1994. "Trash" and "The Beautiful Ones" off commercial high point Coming Up (from 1996) are rapturously received, as is the welcome inclusion of "Everything Will Flow" off 1999's criminally underrated Head Music. Meanwhile, "It Starts And Ends With You" off 2013 comeback album "Bloodsports" and last year's "The Invisibles" have fast become two of the band's most popular singles, and on this evening's showing it's easy to see you.

Nevertheless, it wouldn't be a Suede gig without a few surprises thrown in and the inclusion of both "The Asphalt World" and "Still Life" from Dog Man Star are welcomed with open arms. As is a brave and ultimately buoyant run through obscure B-side "Let Go," a song they'd never played live anywhere before this evening.

Ending on a climactic "Life Is Golden," this really is Suede at their finest. A band on fire right now, fully rejuvenated after that seven-year break. What they'll come up with next is anyone's guess, but you can be damned sure it will be worth the wait because Suede are simply peerless right now.

www.suede.co.uk

Support Under the Radar on Patreon.




Comments

Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published

URL

Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

There are no comments for this entry yet.