Suede and Manic Street Preachers at the Met in Philadelphia | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Suede's Brett Anderson

Suede, Manic Street Preachers

Suede and Manic Street Preachers at the Met in Philadelphia, November 19th, 2022

Dec 31, 2022 Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern
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Suede hadn’t played America in over a decade, since their set at Coachella on April 16, 2011. And even in their 1990s heyday the Britpop band rarely played North America. Perhaps it was because they were forced to perform under the name The London Suede on these shores, due to an obscure lounge singer also named Suede who sued the band after the 1993 release of their debut album. And while Suede had an ardent U.S. fanbase, the larger American public never embraced them quite as much as some of their British contemporaries such as Oasis, Blur, Radiohead, and The Verve. Suede are one of my all-time favorite bands, but the only time I had ever seen them live was during that Coachella set (and that’s despite spending a lot of time in London, my birth city, over the years while living in America, but never quite catching them there either).

Whatever the reason for Suede leaving America off any touring schedules, it was a pleasant surprise when in September the band announced a co-headlining tour with fellow UK band Manic Street Preachers, who have played America a little more regularly than Suede, but not much more. Suede were touring in support of this year’s Autofiction, their fourth album since reforming in 2010 and releasing 2013’s comeback record Bloodsports. Manic Street Preachers didn’t have a new 2022 album to promote, but there was 2021’s The Ultra Vivid Lament and this year’s reissue of 2001’s Know Your Enemy. The two bands were alternating which one was playing last each night and the closest show to Under the Radar’s central Virginia headquarters where Suede was headlining was in Philadelphia, at the Met. Since we have good friends in Philly we could stay with, we headed there, armed with freshly made playlists for each band to help get us through the long drive.

Manic Street Preachers
Manic Street Preachers
Manic Street Preachers
Manic Street Preachers
Manic Street Preachers
Manic Street Preachers

It was a mainly seated show in a beautiful historic theater. Manic Street Preachers took the stage to a track from David Bowie’s Low and then launched into “You Stole the Sun From My Heart,” from 1998’s This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours, which was followed by another favorite, “Everything Must Go,” the title track to their 1996 album of the same name (the first Manics album I ever owned). A Welsh flag adorned the stage and bassist Nicky Wire was looking very glam in a white jacket, sunglasses, and a sparkly guitar strap. “Last time we were here we played the World Café Live,” Wire remembered. “Motorcycle Emptiness” was dedicated to the band’s former guitarist Richey Edwards, who disappeared in 1995 and is presumed dead.

Then the band played the first of two covers. “When the NME asked us to cover a number one, we of course covered one of the most miserable number one’s ever, this one is called ‘Suicide in Painless,’” vocalist/guitarist James Dean Bradfield said before the band covered the 1970 song written by Johnny Mandel and Michael Altman for the film M*A*S*H (which was also later the theme to acclaimed hit TV adaptation).

Manic Street Preachers
Manic Street Preachers
Manic Street Preachers
Manic Street Preachers
Manic Street Preachers
Manic Street Preachers

After “If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next” an audience member requested “Faster.” Even though it wasn’t on the official set list, Bradfield performed a quick solo version before asking the fan, “Did you request ‘Faster’ last night?” Then they played the song they were supposed to, “International Blue.” That was followed by the second cover of the evening, of The Cult’s “She Sells Sanctuary,” with Bradfield’s voice being a good match for the song.

The studio version of “Your Love Alone Is Not Enough” features guest vocals from Nina Persson of The Cardigans and her voice was definitely missed when the song was performed live. “From Despair to Where,” “Walk Me to the Bridge,” and “You Love Us” all followed before the triumphant conclusion of “A Design for Life,” which debuted at number two on the UK singles chart in 1996.

Suede
Suede
Suede
Suede
Suede
Suede

It seemed as though most everyone also stuck around to see Suede (in fact, perhaps many were there primarily to see Suede or at least were excited about both bands). Suede opened with two songs from the new album, “Turn Off Your Brain and Yell” and “Personality Disorder,” before immediately performing two songs from their 1993-released self-titled debut album—“The Drowners” and “Animal Nitrate”—as well as “Trash” (their biggest selling single, from 1996’s third album, Coming Up). Then they played three more Autofiction songs—“That Boy on the Stage,” “Drive Myself Home,” and “Shadow Self”—with the second half of the show then devoted exclusively to classics from Suede’s first four albums. Hence there was a good balance between the old and the new.

Frontman Brett Anderson stalked the stage with purpose. With his shirt halfway unbuttoned, the singer caused many in the audience to swoon and the 55-year-old proved that he’s still one of the most dynamic frontmen of his era. Anderson often swung his microphone around far above his head, but expertly made sure not to hit any audience members or bandmates. During “The Drowners” he got deep into the audience (the front of the stage was a general admission area), still belting out the song. For “Drive Myself Home,” Anderson performed only backed by Neil Codling on keyboards and his vocals truly soared on one of Autofiction’s best tracks, highlighting how rich and powerful his voice remains three decades into his career.

Suede
Suede
Suede
Suede
Suede
Suede
Suede
Suede

The second half of the set launched with “Can’t Get Enough,” the lone song from 1999’s fourth album, Head Music. Then finally a number from their 1994 masterpiece, second album Dog Man Star (perhaps my all-time favorite album)—“We Are the Pigs.” Then Suede performed the lone B-side of the night, “My Insatiable One,” the B-side to their debut single, “The Drowners.” “That was especially for the insatiable ones, who I’ve noticed are here tonight,” Anderson remarked after the song.

Then came the true highlight of the evening, Anderson performing one the band’s greatest songs, Dog Man Star classic “The Wild Ones,” solo, just him and an acoustic guitar, with the rest of the band off the stage. When he went full a cappella midway through “The Wild Ones” the affect was chill-inducing. “So Young” and “Metal Mickey” (both from their debut) followed and then the band closed out the show with Coming Up hit “Beautiful Ones,” with the whole audience singing along to the “la la la la” part. There was no encore, perhaps because of the co-headlining arrangement with Manic Street Preachers.

Suede
Suede
Suede
Suede

As with any band with a discography as vast as Suede’s, quibbles can be had with the setlist. Not that they performed any clunkers, but more songs from Dog Man Star would’ve been nice (“New Generation” or “The Power,” being two examples), the standalone single “Stay Together” (which Anderson has said he doesn’t like much and so they rarely perform it), perhaps some others B-sides (they are one of the greatest B-side bands of all time, “The Big Time” and “High Rising” are personal favorites), tracks from any of their three other comeback albums (such as “Barriers” or “The Invisibles”), or a more epic closing song (“The Asphalt World,” “The Chemistry Between Us,” or “Still Life” come to mind). But considering how rarely Suede perform in America, the audience was appreciative for every note they got and hoped it wouldn’t be another 11 years before the band graced U.S. stages. Besides, while Manic Street Preachers were also excellent, few bands of the 1990s still sound this vital live in 2022 (or are releasing new albums that stand proud in their discography). After the show, one fan was overheard saying of Suede while waiting in the very long (but fast moving) merch line: “I’ve seen them five times and this is the best I’ve ever seen them.”

Suede
Suede
Suede
Suede
Suede
Suede
Suede
Suede
Suede
Suede

www.suede.co.uk

www.manicstreetpreachers.com

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