22nd March 2013
Suede continue their triumphant return with an intimate in-store performance in East London. David Brown from Louder Than War was there to see whether they’ve still got it
Rough Trade’s instores have been one of the best kept secrets in London for a long time. Proper shows handpicked by their knowledgeable staff and with a decent sound set-up. There’s no secrecy about this one though – ahead of their huge Alexandra Palace headliner next week, Suede cram two hundred people into Rough Trade’s flagship shop just off Brick Lane to see their heroes up close and very personal.
There’s no concessions to the size of the venue in the sound though, it’s a ten-song full on assault and there’s no doubt Brett is up for it as well from introducing the band as “The Suedes” to getting down into the crowd, shirt open to the waist and lapping up the adoration of the front rows. The rest of the band look effortlessly cool, appearing disinterested but still producing that effervescent Suede sound that is as trademark as Brett’s voice.
The question with huge bands from the 90s, as Foals and Robbie Williams have contributed to the debate recently, is whether their reformation is a vain attempt to recapture past glories or a cynical cash-in. On the evidence of the new songs aired tonight, they’ve gone for the former, even if the new material does sound pretty identical to what they were producing in 1999. What’s clear is that it doesn’t stand up unfavourably to latter-period post-Butler Suede.
Barriers, Snowblind and It Starts And Ends With You all come from Bloodsports and although this audience is a home banker, the reaction they get is as feverish as I’ve seen at Suede gigs. Rough Trade must have worried about their floor at one point as the centre becomes a moshpit.
Whilst ostensibly promoting the new record, there’s room for some of the hits as well. Filmstar and Metal Mickey are as downright dirty as you can be in a concrete box, and by the time we get to Animal Nitrate, it feels like we’ve been transported back twenty years, fans desperate to get a touch of Brett whilst singing every word back at him as if it’s some kind of musical cult.
They take it down a little for their debut performance of Sometimes I Feel I’ll Float Away, one of those dreamy ballads Suede didn’t produce nearly enough of. Hit Me could be described as Suede-by-numbers, but that comfort blanket of familiarity isn’t always a bad thing.
The set finishes with Trash and Beautiful Ones and the whole place is bouncing at this point, there’s unprompted sing-alongs and Brett has the hugest grin on his face. It feels like one massive celebration yet very personal coming together of old friends.
All in all, this was a real triumph for Suede. It was a brave move to put themselves in this sort of gig as it wasn’t for the additional sales or any great press opportunity. I wasn’t expecting them to be this good, but like everyone else I left with a beaming smile on my face.
Suede played :
It Starts And Ends With You
Sometimes I Feel I’ll Float Away
All words and images by David Brown. You can see more of David’s work on Louder Than War here