Suede, Nadine Shah @ O2 Academy, Leeds, UK, November 9, 2021 | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, November 30th, 2021  

Suede, Nadine Shah

Suede, Nadine Shah @ O2 Academy, Leeds, UK, November 9, 2021,

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Having re-emerged over the past decade as a creative force of some distinction, its somewhat apt that tonight’s belated 25th anniversary celebration of Suede‘s third album Coming Up proves as much of an appetiser for what’s next as it does an opportunity to reminisce about the past. Released in the autumn of 1996, while Coming Up undoubtedly represents a commercial peak for the band; worldwide sales had already broken the one million mark within a year of its release; it also heralded a new era for the band. Not least with the introduction of guitarist Richard Oakes and keyboard player Neil Codling to the ranks. Both of whom remain core and integral members to this day. So with a ninth Suede album whispered to be on the horizon in 2022, this evening’s extravaganza takes a quickstop journey through the band’s glittering back pages. A catalogue that’s outlasted most of their peers and contemporaries by way of its sheer, timeless beauty. Not to mention a longevity assured by the Suede’s three excellent post-2010 releases.

Before Suede take to the stage, its left to Nadine Shah to entertain those who’ve made into O2 Academy early doors. Which she does with serious gravitas. Resplendent in a Suede t-shirt - Shah confesses to being a lifelong fan of the band and tells the engaged audience Coming Up was one of the first albums she purchased as a teenager, while labelling Suede fans “Beautiful Ones” for the way they’ve responded to her sets on this tour. Not that she had any reason to worry. Having released four critically acclaimed albums over the past decade, the most recent of which; 2017’s Holiday Destination and last year’s Kitchen Sink; deservedly elevated her profile somewhat. It’s fair to say Nadine Shah is one of the most accomplished artists on UK shores right now. Playing a career spanning set that opens with the title track of her 2015 sophomore album Fast Food and ends on a rousing rendition of “Out The Way”. Shah fills the forty-five minutes inbetween with a ten-songs set that merely highlights her growing reputation as a writer and performer of unparalleled merit. “Prayer Mat” is dedicated to her late mother, who passed away last year. While both “Ladies For Babies (Goats For Love)” and “Evil” threaten to bring the house down (literally) such is Shah’s presence and flawless delivery. Ably backed by a band that ironically features occasional Suede producer Ben Hillier on drums, this is as good an opening set as Under the Radar has witnessed all year.

With the stage lights set to blue and a backdrop that features various stills and videos from the Coming Up era, an orchestral version of album staple “She” welcomes Brett Anderson and co to the stage. Indeed, Anderson has probably never looked healthier in all his years of fronting Suede, and for the next hour and a half delivers a masterclass in showmanship, vocal prowess and general agility. Coming Up is played in chronological order, which means the big singles are dropped early on. Opening number “Trash” quickly giving way to “Filmstar” then “Lazy” in successive fashion. As an opening salvo to a gig it really doesn’t get much better than this, while a note-perfect rendition of “By The Sea” and caustic “She” remind all and sundry why Coming Up has stood the test of time for over a quarter of a century. Side two of Coming Up opens with “The Beautiful Ones”, a song that’s gone on to become Suede’s celebratory anthem of sorts. The vastly underrated and rarely played “Starcrazy” comes next before the tempo drops considerably for “Picnic By The Motorway”. Indeed, if the first half of the album represented coming up and reaching a hyperactive peak by its sixth track (the aforementioned “Beautiful Ones”), the comedown that brings Coming Up to a conclusion is delectable in its execution. “The Chemistry Between Us” and “Saturday Night” might signal the end of Coming Up, but as far as this evening’s concerned its only just heating up.

The second set could best be described as a selection of bangers and b-sides from Suede’s extensive back catalogue. Indeed, with just under an hour left to play with and a plethora of material to choose from, it must be difficult to choose what not to include from such a treasure chest of riches. As with the other dates on this tour, Anderson and co open with a song they’ve rarely played before, if ever. Introduced as the first song written with Richard Oakes after he joined the band, “Together” features on the flipside of Dog Man Star era single “New Generation”. Its inclusion in tonight’s set may have raised a few eyebrows but by the end, everyone was singing along to its infectious chorus. Fast forwarding towards the present, “I Don’t Know How To Reach You” off 2016’s Night Thoughts is equally well received before the infrequently aired “Electricity” receives a rare outing. Initially released as the lead single off 1999’s fourth album Head Music, Anderson in fine voice throughout. From hereon in its big hitters all the way. “Can’t Get Enough”, “We Are The Pigs” and “So Young” providing timely reminders of why Suede were so highly coveted throughout the nineties before “Metal Mickey” and “Animal Nitrate” close the second set in equally boisterous fashion.

There’s still time for one more number. A closing rendition of “Life Is Golden” - dedicated to Brett’s son, who the song was written for - taking us back to the present in dramatic style. Having first witnessed Suede at Sheffield’s Leadmill venue back in the early part of 1993, it’s probably fair to say I’ve never seen a bad Suede show and tonight was no exception. Long may it continue!




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