Friday, 26 March 2010
SUEDE at the ROYAL ALBERT HALL
As sensational returns go, this one pretty much took the biscuit, the plate, and the whole flipping table. Seven years since their last gigs and Brett and co were reunited for a Teenage Cancer Trust gig. Those who thought the band might treat this as a gentle lap of honour for old time’s sake were given a furious wake-up call as they tore through their catalogue with such electrifying urgency that it caused poor old Roger Daltrey to complain it was too loud!
Brett Anderson was in incredible shape (I had to put Mrs Monkey’s tongue back in her head), performing as if his life and legacy were riding on this one show. After seeing his recent chilled solo gigs, and recalling the early bum and thigh slapping Suede gigs of 1992, he was a revelation: kicking, jumping, twirling, whirling, shaking, leaping, dancing, throwing himself into the crowd and singing – yes, actually singing - his skinny frame out; this was a master class in frontman-ery that didn’t let up for the full 21 song set.
The energy levels of the first five songs alone (“She”, “Trash”, “Filmstar”, “Animal Nitrate”, “Heroine”) were cranked up so high I was glad for a breather with the welcome surprise of “Pantomime Horse”. That set the tone for the rest of the night: plenty of glorious hits mixed with b-side oddities and album favourites, mostly taken from the lifespan of the first three albums and ignoring the patchier final two. “Killing of a Flashboy” sat next to “The Drowners” with the crowd giving both an equally delirious reception. With seldom more than two seconds between songs there was little time for chat or to catch breath but after an explosive “Metal Mickey” a spontaneous two minute ovation gathered momentum as a grinning Anderson allowed himself to bask in the adoration before they continued apace.
Other honourable mentions to a beautiful “Asphalt World” and Anderson dedicating “He’s Gone” to his recently deceased friend and giving it a suitably dramatic, on-the-knees, delivery. “New Generation” was great too, so was “Can’t Get Enough”, hell, it all was. It was simply one of those unforgettable nights.
“It’s been fun. See you again in another seven years”. Whether it is sooner, we’ll see. The ethereal and pastoral nature of Anderson’s recent albums makes me wonder if there’s enough urban Suedeness left in his bones to produce a worthwhile new album so occasional reminders like this might have to suffice. Suede always meant more than most bands in that early 90s, pre-Brit Pop period, with only the Manics as peers. The pair definitely did a few things to this young man’s head. Incredibly, nearly twenty years later, they’ve shown they still mean so much and might just have played their finest gig, and I might just have run out of superlatives.