Photo: Sarah Doone
Is there anything new left to say about Suede? Trailblazing pioneers of Britpop, only to be later overshadowed, cover stars of the now-defunct Melody Maker before their first single release, the infamous departure of songwriter/axe-man Bernard Butler, struggles with drug addiction… all old news. So then, why in 2013 are the unluckiest band of the 90s still playing sold-out gigs?
Nostalgia plays an undeniable part. One look around the venue serves as confirmation, and the reception that’s given to the band when they walk onstage is one that’s usually reserved for returning war heroes – a burst of affectionate relief over a glorious homecoming.
But memories don’t tell the whole story, and this is no mere greatest hits run-through. Suede show no mercy and make the hits – old and new – come hard and fast. Shooting off the starting block with the adrenaline-soaked ‘Moving’, before effortlessly shifting into new album track ‘Snowblind’, an indie rocker with an 80s edge of seductive and ambivalent desire, powered by a chorus full of euphoric misery, when Anderson cries out ‘This love is lifting / The blood is lifting you’, his voice soars far above and hangs in the air, resonating: it’s an almost spiritual experience.
Clad in black and still showing off a lithe and sinuous physique, Anderson’s androgynous 90s heartthrob status hasn’t diminished much with age, and he struts, sways and preens like a magnificently sweaty peacock, literally oozing sex appeal, with the energy of his younger self coursing through his veins. Connecting with fans in the front row with arms outstretched towards the lucky ones, it’s clear he adores their adoration as much as they adore him. By the time ‘So Young’ and ‘Beautiful Ones’ rolls around, everyone in the crowd is roaring back the lyrics, and he laps it up, grinning. There’s an amusing moment where swinging his mic cable like a nunchuk on the dark and sleazy ‘Filmstar’, part threat, part come-hither, Anderson almost whacks someone in the head.
Classics such as the subtly weird psychedelia of ‘Animal Nitrate’ or brassy glam-pop stomper ‘Trash’ are equalled by the wonderful restraint of newcomers like ‘It Starts And Ends With You’, and even though final song ‘Hit Me’ gets a slightly messy outing, sweaty Bretty and co. still hit us with all their majesty of killer hooks and killer choruses one last time. In case there was any doubt remaining – they’ve still got it.
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