Shibuya Ax 11th October 2013

 Shibuya Ax 11th October 2013

This and other photos of Suede on this page © Katie Clare


Shibuya Ax, Tokyo

11th October 2013

Having played Japan at Summer Sonic in 2011 with their ‘comeback’ set list there is plenty of anticipation for a night punctuated with our first live bites of tracks from this year’s Bloodsports. A genuinely decent venue, the Shibuya-Ax built for purpose austere blank arena is tonight a slightly jarring juxtaposition to the allegorical wantonness playing out via the stylistic synchronization of lyric, descant and performance on stage.

Suede: Shibuya Ax, Tokyo – live reviewThe stage back drop, unusually for Suede, is plain drape and the band walk on to a classical operatically stylized piece of instrumental music. As the crowd surge forward the gentle delicacy of Always opens the evening and Brett Anderson’s usual baritone voice starts full of warmth and depth, with lyrics that begin plaintively but soon transform into something ominously violent before finishing on a sinister, half strangled murmur. A formidably emotional opening, we continue forth in less emotive territory with Snowblind, its buoyancy allowing the audience to physically enter into the music as people start to sway and move. The sweeping grandiosity of Barriers brushes away any coyness and the audience is fully in the palm of Brett’s hand, as bodies gravitate to his ever moving position, eyes fixated and hands stretched for just a touch: then just one touch more.

The (euphorically received) back catalog is well represented, especially those tracks inclined to riotous and mischievous tones: the mere lusciousness of the lyrical delights of ‘Trash’, ‘So Young’ and ‘Beautiful Ones’ are enough to warrant the cover charge alone: we’ll get back to those three in good time as the first trio of old hits rain down like manna from heaven; Film Star, Trash and Animal Nitrite. Everyone has their arms in the air, throats straining as we scream along. Even caught up in these pockets of delight it’s hard not to feel the heaviness of irony watching the audience, dense with those who bought the eponymous debut on its original release, wailing away to songs about the aridness of middle age, rigidities of suburbia and the carnal melodrama of youth: are these not the traps we are now stuck in? Are our desires long since turned to dust? No, yes or too some degree: regardless, it is inevitable: so not irony then, just a little bit of splendid human absurdity.

Along with the maturing of his voice so has the man – Brett, our narcissistic, enigmatically predatory front man is still a lithe persona of glamorousness: even when sliding his fingertips across the outstretched hands, or grinning ear to ear at the response from the audience he avoids coming across as a sleazy old game show host. Sincere and at ease with himself: lusciously flirty, demonstratively wanton and emotionally wounded; he prowls along the stage front on all fours, cradle’s his head in his hands as he drops to his knees leaving the stage many times: joining the audience for huge portions of songs, ever tactile and acquiescently engaged.

Suede: Shibuya Ax, Tokyo – live reviewThe stage is like Brett’s personal playground and it is all too easy to forget that it is Suede on stage. Guitarist Richard Oakes is formidably unreadable, however his string work is flawless and he harmoniously works with the intricate keyboard work of Neil Codling. Simon Gilbert’s drums are delicately applied, which, together with Mat Osman on bass creates a resilient yet gracefully fluid rhythm throughout. The new songs synchronise beautifully into the set, and are not tolerated as payment for the old ‘hits’ – the new are, as before, soaked in drama, sensuality and craving: albeit with less angst and more all too real shadows of regret and pain.

Dressed head to toe in black – shirt undone to the waist, drenched and unguarded, a human Akheron, Brett laments a romantically jagged Another No One and shares a fluid and elegant Everything Will Flow. The final is moving towards us as a troika of possibly, the very tracks that started many an interest in, a love of, and a lust for Suede: Trash, So Young and Beautiful Ones; each characteristically Suede. With lyrics you want to roll around and get dirty to, full of acidic romance, vented burst of judgement exploding like poetic infernos. It’s quite fitting that the single encore comes from Bloodsports –  Hit Me, a pop-esque hip mover born of rapture and passion; an audience high on adrenaline don’t miss a beat as they leap and sing along. This return to form is a testament to the discreet transformative qualities of Suede: they are imaginative and inventive while retaining their original qualities: long may we bathe in their dejection, elegance and decadence.


The Suede European Tour 2013 UK leg begins on October 16th at The Garage, London and continues thus:

22nd October Guildhall, Southampton

23rd October Cliff Pavilion , Southend

24th October O2 Academy, Bristol

26th October O2 Academy, Leeds

27th October Barrowlands , Glasgow

28th October Olympia Theatre, Dublin

30th October Academy, Manchester

31st October O2 Academy, Birmingham.

Check the Suede official website tour page for up to date information & for details of which venues still have tickets available and how to purchase them.

While on the topic of desire – Suede: The Vinyl Collection is released on October 21st. This limited edition numbered box set will contain 11 vinyl records encompassing all the bands studio releases and much more. Availability is limited to 1500 sets. You can find find full details and pre-order via this link where a special MP3 pre-order promotion is available.

Also on October 21st a limited edition double single featuring For The Strangers and Hit Me will be released. The two front covers will be packaged together in a 7” gate-fold format. Pre-orders can be made via a number of outlets including from Piccadilly Records and Rough Trade.

Find what you need to know and keep with news through Suede’s official website, Facebook and Twitter.

All words by Katie Clare. More writing by Katie on Louder Than War can be found at her author’s archive. She can also be found on Twitter where she tweets as @tokyo_katie.

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  1. What an awful piece of writing. Im sure Suede were amazing but Katie Clare this piece is just utterly un-readable. Yes yes yes you have good comand of the english language, i have good football skill but i dont run around the field just doing keepy ups. If you want to tell the world how good Suede were just tell it eloquently without the linguistic gymnastics.


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