Albert Hall is uncomfortably rammed tonight in anticipation of one of Britain’s most iconic bands. Emerging from the ashes of 1980s superficiality, the band injected life into the rock and roll scene during the next decade, paving the way for significant others who, by the middle of the 90s, would be fighting for a place on the Britpop podium. Eschewing this particularly contrived musical rivalry and sidestepping the influence grunge was having, Suede would present a trashier, sleazier view of the era. Based on the predominantly middle-aged audience in the crowd tonight, the band’s reunion in 2010 has clearly prompted waves of nostalgia in their fans and we’re all eager to catch a glimpse of our youth, presented through some of the most quintessential songs of the nineties.
The evening does not serve solely as a sentimental journey back in time however. Tonight is a significant musical event, presented by a band, reinvigorated by creativity, performing their latest album in full as a soundtrack to photographer Roger Sargent’s bleak film, Night Thoughts. The film is presented on a huge screen in front of the stage with the band emerging as shadowy figures behind the profound imagery. The sound is incredible and after the weighty When You Are Young establishes the serious themes inherent in the film, Outsiders follows and subtle stage lighting illuminates the band and for the next fifty minutes Brett Anderson’s passionate and absorbing performance can be discerned as it dissolves through Sargent’s provocative images.
It’s an immersive and memorable live performance and one the crowd certainly appreciate, but there is an air of expectation as the screen is removed and the second half of the evening approaches. What we are all treated to during the Hits and Treats segment of the show is nothing short of spectacular. Exploding on to the stage with Introducing the Band, Brett Anderson and co crunch through the gears and by the time Trash is ricocheting around the gothic hall a few minutes later, the lead singer has joined the ecstatic crowd for the chorus, returning bare-chested to pose astride the monitors, drinking in the adoration. Swinging his microphone majestically, like a hero of the frontier, he almost takes out Mat Osman and Richard Oakes who are calmly taking it all in their stride.
It’s a thrilling opening and despite a few shifts in pace provided by more obscure tracks, including an acoustic Obsession from an album which a self-deprecating Anderson clearly has little love for, the evening belongs to songs which helped define an era. Each familiar chorus from So Young, Metal Mickey and Beautiful Ones coincides with Anderson’s eager return to the crowd, who gleefully embrace this most flamboyant of performers. It is certainly apt that in David Bowie’s tragic absence, we are treated to an inspiring performance by a frontman who is perhaps more vocally similar to Bowie than any other rock star today. The quality of the new record and the sheer energy of tonight’s feverishly invigorating, exhilarating performance by Anderson this evening should ensure many more get to experience this great British band where they really excel. Live!
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Review and Photos by Iain Fox | @IainFoxPhoto