Tuesday, 2 April 2013

It starts and ends with Suede

Suede at The Alexandra Palace, 30.03.13

There is something in the timing of this event.  20 years to the day (well, almost) since the release of their eponymous decade defining debut and just a month after they put out their first new album in 11 years, this feels like a key moment.

There is a lot of money to be made on the nostalgia circuit and the 20th anniversary of a classic album would be reason enough for many bands to hit the road one more time.  However with Bloodsports sitting in the top 10 of the albums chart and garnering glowing reviews, this could not be more different.  Suede have always had an arrogance and a swagger to them and with the new album on display they have both in abundance.  The scene is set, not for the 90s or even just a gig, but, given that we are in a palace, for a coronation.

When Fred Macpherson of Spector, ends his band’s support set by saying “And let us not forget that we are gathered here this Easter to witness the resurrection of our lord... Brett Anderson”, he is joking but also assessing the mood of the sold out crowd.  This needs to be good, no it needs to be glorious.  Nothing less will do.  

The PA incongruously blasts out Sabbath and then the Pistols, an amalgam of album artwork backdrop illuminates the stage with an unknown (to me) classical surge of violins that lasts for what seems like ages but is probably only a minute.  Then they take to the stage, all dressed in Sleeperbloke black apart of course from Anderson.  Still skinnier than any other 45 year old I know, still moving like Jagger, he and the band have aged well.  I’ve seen other 90s bands where the years have left them looking, well like many fortysomethings, with retreating hairlines and expanding waistlines.  Still good bands but looking... old.  Suede just look like Suede.

They tear straight into Barriers the opening track from Bloodsports and the crowd reacts as if it was their biggest hit.  The first three songs are from the new album, all driving intensity such that when they follow them with Animal Nitrate and Metal Mickey, the big hits from that debut, it just fits.  An incredible opening salvo of 5 songs that are 20 years apart but are equals in candour and fervour.  Even the back of the hanger-like Ally Pally is bouncing like they are down at the barriers.

Brett spent quite a bit of time down by the barriers himself, disappearing for entire songs at a time into the front rows, wanting to be part of it.  I half expected to see him crowdsurfing his way to the back.  It must have been a great experience for those at the front, for the rest of us it left us watching what felt like an empty stage until his return.  

White shirted in the spotlight, striking messianic poses or windmilling his mic with a ferocity that would make a health and safety inspector cry, he commands your attention.  There is no ‘banter’ but plenty of communication and an hour and a half has already passed before we realise that Trash and Beautiful Ones can only mean the end of the set.  “Sing along with this one.  You know the words and if you don’t know the words then why are you here?” he asks.  Everyone knows the words.

Thank you and goodnight!

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