Suede – Nottingham Rock City, Thursday 28 March
Originally published in the Nottingham Post
It’s hard to believe that Suede have never played Rock City before; even front man Brett Anderson had to check with the crowd, just in case a stray Nottingham date had slipped his memory.
In truth, we could be forgiven for feeling a wee bit shunned. Suede’s last gig here was at Trent Polytechnic in October 1992, just after the release of second single Metal Mickey. It was one of those rare occasions when an audience could be observed singing along, word perfect, to tracks that hadn’t yet been released: a clear sign that the band were destined for imminent greatness.
Greatness duly followed: chart-topping albums, an unbroken eleven-year run of hit singles, and a career that is widely credited as inspiring the Britpop boom. But by 2003, the band’s creative spark was dimming. A seven-year hiatus followed, broken by a reunion show in 2010 that was supposed to be a one-off.
Three years on, Suede are still a going concern. They’ve yet to stage a full UK tour – but with a big London show imminent, in support of their comeback album Bloodsports, a warm-up date was quickly needed, and Rock City fitted the bill. After all these years, it was a welcome recognition.
The eighty-minute, eighteen-song set was evenly divided between new material and old favourites. It opened with the first three tracks from Bloodsports: a bold move, which thrust the band firmly into the present day. Then it was onto the classics: Animal Nitrate, Metal Mickey and We Are The Pigs, all sounding as fresh and vital as ever.
The three founding members might be in their mid-forties, but middle age hasn’t blunted their focus. The playing was sharp and lean, and Brett Anderson remains a compelling, energising presence, barely touched by the aging process.
During Killing Of A Flash Boy, one of Suede’s many great B-sides and a big fan favourite, Anderson sunk out of sight, mobbed by the crowd. “Yeah, thanks for that”, he spluttered at the end of the song, surfacing with a wry grin, his shirt torn open to the navel.
Three of the new songs, taken from the quieter end of Bloodsports, had never been played on stage before. Although it would have been great to have heard some of the big ballads from Dog Man Star, they punctuated the set effectively, and were respectfully received. Two of them – Faultlines and Always – paved the way for the final salvo of the main set, which ended with the thrilling double whammy of Trash and Beautiful Ones.
Conducted by a demonically beaming Anderson, the crowd bellowed along, reconnecting with the mad mid-Nineties hedonism that Suede had documented so well. “We’re trash, you and me, we’re the litter on the breeze”, we roared, as if 1996 were only yesterday. It was a suitably messy climax to a truly magnificent show, from a legendary band who are right back at the top of their game.
Set list: Barriers, Snowblind, It Starts And Ends With You, Animal Nitrate, Metal Mickey, We Are The Pigs, Sometimes I Feel I’ll Float Away, Hit Me, Filmstar, Killing Of A Flash Boy, Faultlines, Always, So Young, Trash, Beautiful Ones. Encore: What Are You Not Telling Me, For The Strangers, New Generation.