Suede : Kendal Calling 2014  :Live ReviewSuede
Kendal Calling Festival
Aug 2014

Live Review

Brett Anderson is making a sartorial statement as he stands resplendent on stage in the whitest of white shirts for Suede’s headline slot at Kendal Calling Festival.

All around is filthy weather and far gone lunatics covered in Cumbria hill mud and pumped to the gills with chemical filth decorated with a mixture of fancy dress and modern festival garb- the likes of which are almost certainly against the sharp and angular Suede aesthetic but they are having the piss wet through time of their lives at one of the fastest growing festivals on the calendar.

Kendal Calling is now officially premiership festival material- its also the most daring.

People in Cumbria are the only people in the UK who look on Manchester as being a sun baked dry city and the weather is always on the verge of drizzling chaos here but the modern festival goer is now built for the climate- it’s a sea of plastic designer macs and girls dressed as pseudo hippies in designer wellies, cut off denim pants and flowers in their hair- going to a ‘festie’ is a modern rite of passage and whether the bands are actually part of that experience is a moot point- it can’t be long before they are cut out of the equation all together and their inconvenient tour buses and long lost hits banished from the muddy fields of England.

Which would be shame if they all still played with the fire and brimstone of Suede whose set is as spotless as Brett’s white shirt-a shirt he wears in defiance of the battlefield conditions- almost daring people to flick large Cumbrian turfs at him.

Suede’s comeback has been a model in how to do things right- they even managed to make one of the best albums of their career and chart it- an unheard of manoeuvre on the trad comeback circuit- normally it’s tried and tested hits and occasional new material so everyone can fuck off to the bogs for a piss. Suede, though, have managed to write new songs that are key parts of the live trajectory that sound stronger and more muscular than the band of yore but then they never were the fey indie wimps that they have been painted as .

Of course Brett always played the androgynous card but the band always packed a power that belied their punkier roots of being teenage Crass fans- they knew about real power and that was always some rhythm section they packed – a rhythm section that is still built to turn fields like this into rock style pits. The songs are still swooning anthems and Brett’s voice has never sounded better- it’s really filled in now and has that stadium power that reaches to the back of fields like this with a confidence and power – a surging power that oozes from Richard Oakes guitar.

That’s the key to the 21st century Suede- the arguments over Britpop are long gone, this is a band that is very much out there on its own terms- they are nudging classic status but still have the fire of creativity in their loins and the power of a real rock band at their finger tips- 2014 Suede are an exciting prospect- a rock band that is still hungry and is not ashamed to embrace the audience with a fistful of rabble rousing tricks picked up from the last couple of years on an endless world tour- if the old days saw the band perform with that kind British politeness there is now no embarrassment about getting people to engage with Brett playing the part of shamanic showman and that can only be a good thing.

Suede have defied fashion and that thrilling rush of youth and two decades later are a great British rock band who can own a headline slot at a festival like this, granted they have the hits but they also have the command and the chops whilst retaining their glam pop capability and tonight’s perfect set is proof of a band that had defied the rule book and is at the top of its game.

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


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