tue 23/07/2024

Suede, O2 Arena | reviews, news & interviews

Suede, O2 Arena

Suede, O2 Arena

Brett Anderson flies the flag and waggles his bottom for Britpop

Suede: Still streets ahead of their Britpop peers when it comes to seductive hit singles

If you stick the phrase "Britpop Revival" into Google, the first page of results suggests that there has been one in 2009, 2008, 2007, 2005 and even 1998, barely a handful of months after Britpop was the epitome of Cool Britannia.

It looks as if there will also be one in 2011, with Pulp primed to play again, Damon Albarn talking about releasing a new Blur single in January and, judging by Suede's storming reunion last night, more from Brett Anderson's gang, who, in theartsdesk's humble opinion, never got the full credit they deserved during the heady Blur vs Oasis years.

Lead singer Anderson has previously admitted to being addicted to heroin and crack, which is almost as embarrassing as admitting that the pre-fame Suede were managed by the young Ricky Gervais. He has cleaned up now and the substance abuse does not seem to have done any long-term damage. His birth certificate says he is 43, but sweeping onto the O2 stage bang on schedule at 9.15pm he looked as if he had the hair, body and the cheekbones of a man half his age, resembling a boyish Bryan Ferry by way of a pre-lapsarian Terry Duckworth from Coronation Street. Anderson oozed so much febrile energy it was six songs in before we even got a pause long enough for a "good evening".

The music has certainly stood time's test, but felt heavier than when I last saw the band at the ICA nearly a decade ago. Guitarist Richard Oakes, who replaced Bernard Butler – Marr to Anderson's Morrissey – pounded out beefy powerchords, while John Lennon-lookalike Mat Osman and drummer Simon Gilbert laid down a riveting rhythm, at times lending the band the feel of a disco Joy Division. Low-key fifth man Neil Codling was impressively versatile, moving effortlessly between keyboards and guitar.

Their lengthy 23-song set reminded fans what a terrific singles band Suede were. Even their B-sides were better than most band's A-sides. And when they got stuck into those A-sides the O2 felt as if it was about to levitate. The 1992 debut single "The Drowners" had an epic quality, "New Generation" and "Trash" were glitterpop incarnate, while the fizzy, Bolanesque "Animal Nitrate" tore the roof off. "So Young", their haunting ode to youthful excess, was as emotionally persuasive as ever, despite, or maybe because of, the irony of a sea of fortysomethings singing along.

Suede always had a nice line in debauched glamour, but there was also always a darker side, which was still present too. "Pantomime Horse" started off funereal and got bleaker. And Anderson's less-than-subtle lyrical flirtation with narcotics stuck out like a sore thumb on "Heroine" and in his acoustic number that kicked off the three-song encore, "The Living Dead" – "Where's all the money gone... all up the hole in your arm".

But most of all the gig was a reminder of what a classy, quintessentially British band Suede were and are, mixing the glam of Bowie with the suburban adolescent angst of The Smiths. And in Anderson they possess a truly great frontman. The acoustics were not great, but his voice was keen and sharp. Clad entirely in black, Anderson moved like a compelling post-punk ballet dancer, waggling his bottom, leaping, twirling and even pogoing during the frantic instrumental break of "Can't Get Enough". By comparison, someone like Brian Molko of Placebo has as much androgynous charisma as a portion of cabbage.

Anderson was clearly having the time of his life, relishing his return to the limelight as he repeatedly stepped down into the crowd. In the past his clothes might have been ripped off of his body by sex-crazed fans; this time there were polite pats on the back. Old Britpop fans clearly don't die, they just get better manners.

Suede perform "The Beautiful Ones"

Clad entirely in black, Anderson moved like a compelling post-punk ballet dancer, waggling his bottom, leaping, twirling and even pogoing

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So young was a single from the first album, not a b-side!

I think you may have skipped over the phrase "And when they got stuck into those A sides...", Clozzer.

Hi Clozzer, Thanks, you were right, I tweaked my review to clarify. Memo to self: when in doubt after a mindblowing gig rely on memory rather than Wikipedia.

Amazing gig, I agree with your review. First time I ever saw them was 1994 in London, since then 5 times in Finland, the last gig being really depressing in October 2002. Had my worries before the gig but they all vanished as soon as I heard Brett's strong, determined vocals on Pantomime Horse and "the new boy's" guitar chords. My favourite was probably Killing of a Flash boy which many of the audience didn't seem to react to... excellent rock song, too rarely heard in public!! Rock on Suede.

I dont know about "polite pats on the back" I certainly WAS trying to rip his clothes off.

Suede ! their music sounds like their name ........boring, bland, brown. Bruce Dessau ...... "By comparison, someone like Brian Molko of Placebo has as much androgynous charisma as a portion of cabbage." ? - an oxymoron for sure! all respect to Suede for being able to do what they love.

Blur was always better

Bruce Dessau... where did you graduate from? Cabbage Uni? Who the hell is Suede?? Never hear of those blokes! Placebo are an INTERNATIONAL band who have graced the shores of many a nation you would not have even heard of. Take a look a their tour schedule for the past two years. Here in Australia, we know PLACEBO, but never heard of Suede?? Oh, heard a snippet of their sound ..... LAME.... Long live Brian Molko, Placebo & Dreambrother! Placebo's gigs are self funded; kings of alternative rock ;)

okay mr.Bruce Dessau,i dont care who suede is. you literally disgust me making dislike this band because of your ignorant comment on placebo. placebo have been around for over a dacade and still have a great number of followers/fans all around the world even here in korea and japan as well. not to mention their songs are still so much loved and listend to by many youngsters like me. but suede on the other hand, i havent even heard them playing gigs in any major rock fests for,, lets see,, 10 yrs at least in jp and all around asia? suede cant catch up with placebo as they are not to be compared with placebo. and they are two compltetely different bands. well i will no longer want to bring suede up Because YOU and your absurd comment on placebo are the reason i starated writing here. You call urself a critic and get paid for writing this piece of shit?? and you obviously dont even know how to deliver ur point to readers. Do not disgrace other bands just because you dont like them for some reason. where the hell you got that confidence to call placebo that way?? YOU cabbage head Mister.dessau. its even a waste of time commeting on ur shit. plz do not write. please. a girl from korea.

Seems you've opened up Pandora's box when it comes to 'dissing' Placebo at Suede's expense. My Oh My! Song To Say Goodbye.......

How do people that don't know Suede find this article that has a little harmless comment on Placebo to bash it is beyond me. Are you people actually looking for every page on the internet that contains the word Placebo? The comment is a bit mean but it is true that Brian Molko as a frontman is nowhere near as good as Brett. Brian is actually pretty static and boring to watch. Note that I love both bands, but Placebo live is not amazing, it's too overproduced these days, sounds like a CD.

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