A triumphant return for the Britpop pioneers

Largely owing to his remarkable snake hips, Brett Anderson’s place in the annals of Britpop has always been distinct from those laddish contemporaries. Where other leading frontmen have in the past taken to the stage with their hands behind their back and their feet glued firmly to the ground, Anderson’s inexorable thrusting and erotic writhing has always imbued him with a sense of lavish theatricality, securing his status as the genre’s most nubile showman.

Seven years after they disbanded, Suede played a comeback show at the Royal Albert Hall, minus a certain guitarist of course. Bernard Butler’s absence may have been felt by the few diehard traditionalists longing for a nostalgic trip down memory lane, but for everyone else, a new chapter in the book of Suede had begun.

Just months later and Suede are playing sold-out show to a small crowd at London’s Bush Hall, effortlessly trawling through their back catalogue for an hour and a half to the delight of everyone present. To say that Thursday night was an intimate affair would be something of an understatement. The limited capacity of Bush Hall, coupled with the sauntering heat inside the venue made for a claustrophobic sweat box, where bruised and battered limbs were an inevitable consequence. But you wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

Within moments of the band appearing on stage, hushed, polite tones quickly rose to a rowdy clamour. Despite the slightly older demographic, the crowd were undeterred by age, casting aside their physical fears as they recklessly threw themselves at each other, a flurry of sweaty, flailing limbs, a heavy mass of bodies. Standing right by the speakers, eardrums were blast into sonic orbit, shattered into a trillion tingling pieces. Periously moving into the eye of the storm was the only option it seemed, remaining there for the duration, melting into our own sweating bodies.

Just fifteen minutes in and they’ve already started on the classics. That familiar, iconic riff starts up, Anderson’s androgynous drawl chimes in and everyone suddenly surges forward, spurred on by memory and nostalgia, shouting out the lyrics to ‘Trash’ like there was no tomorrow. The band are clad head to toe in black, slick, serious and looking like they mean business. If it wasn’t for Anderson’s shameless flamboyance, the overall aesthetics of the thing could have been a little stiff. But it has always been about Brett, everyone knows that. He provides the bang; the others light the flame.

The fashionable sparkle of ‘Filmstar’ is still effervescent, impervious to time, ‘Can’t Get Enough’ is as biting as ever and ‘Animal Nitrate’ just rolls of the tongue. Their britglam sound may not translate so easily anymore but their lyrics still have a place, that mix of social commentary and frivolous irreverence always an appealing concoction.

Ending on their softer, sincere side with ‘Wild Ones’, the only track missing from the set is ‘Stay Together’, but B sides ‘My Insatiable One’ and ‘To The Birds’ go down well with the fanboys and girls and prove that beyond the classics there is still plenty more to be unearthed. There’s an added joie de vivre, a reinforced tack to their performance which is perhaps the most surprising thing. They’re not just as good as they were in 1997, but even better.

Words by April Welsh

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