REVIEW: Suede at 02 Academy, 5/5, by Steve Harnell
IREPEATED the words "absolute triumph" as I left the venue – and they were still rattling around my head the following morning. For this show by the reunited Suede was very special indeed.
Of all the Brit rock institutions who have reconvened over the past few years, you could argue that it is this classy Brett Anderson-led five-piece who have done it with the most integrity. They have succeeded where The Stone Roses, Blur, Pulp and Happy Mondays have come up a little short – it is a radical concept called "releasing a new studio album".
Bloodsports – which appeared in March – is a defiant new chapter in the band's history. And they are proud of it, slotting in more than half of it here without any dip in the quality threshold.
They began, though, with the stately Pantomime Horse, and Anderson was soon on his knees wringing out every drop of emotion from the song. Then it was on to a trio of newbies, the call to arms of Barriers, a rocking Snowblind and an outstanding It Starts And Ends With You which is as good as anything they have put their name to.
By Filmstar, Anderson was up on the monitors swinging his microphone around like a camp Roger Daltrey and having a ball. Trash prompted a mass sing- along, while Animal Nitrate and Heroine tested the foundations underneath the Academy. The first break came nine songs in with the elegiac Sometimes I Feel I'll Float Away, and the brooding Sabotage.
We were soon back to the urgency of The Drowners and the glam-rock riffage of b-side Killing Of A Flashboy, though. Breathy ballad The 2 Of Us got a rare airing and they followed it with an exhilarating So Young.
Anderson was astonishing throughout. Gone were the cut-price Morrisseyisms and arrogance of the early days, replaced with a committed performance that completely engaged the audience. He did most of the heavy lifting, with the band content to take a back seat. Guitarist Richard Oakes had a few scene-stealing moments but did not attempt to share the limelight in the same way that the band's original axe hero Bernard Butler did.
Suede still had two of their biggest tunes up their sleeves, too. Oakes finally let his inner rock monster off the leash for Metal Mickey, and Beautiful Ones was sublime.
There was only one song in the encore – New Generation. After all, the job was already done – so why labour the point? Suede are very much in the moment. This was a barnstorming return.