wed 28/02/2024

Suede, Symphony Hall, Birmingham review - a messianic performance from Britpop's originators | reviews, news & interviews

Suede, Symphony Hall, Birmingham review - a messianic performance from Britpop's originators

Suede, Symphony Hall, Birmingham review - a messianic performance from Britpop's originators

A sold-out Symphony Hall goes bonkers for Brett Anderson’s mob

Brett Anderson: shaking his bits to the hits

“Why do we come to concerts?” asks Brett Anderson, Suede’s ringmaster and vocalist, before launching into an acoustic version of “The Wild Ones” from the stage of Birmingham’s Symphony Hall. “We come to concerts to feel something together, for a sense of community. So, if you know the words, please sing along.”

Ordinarily, this kind of chivvying along really doesn’t hurt at concerts in Birmingham – where audiences frequently don’t move a muscle until it’s time for the encore, and maybe not even then. For Suede, however, any kind of hype from the stage always seems to be completely unnecessary – even if it is obviously deep in Anderson’s DNA. Thirty years since the release of their debut album and in all-seated venues like Symphony Hall, their crowd’s enthusiasm was still never less than palpable. Even if they clearly aren’t getting any younger and there seem to be more fleeces than leather jackets on show these days.

That said, a lot of water has gone under the bridge since Suede inadvertently helped to kick off the whole Britpop circus in the early ‘90s. While they soon jumped ship from that painfully self-regarding scene, Anderson and his mob have never wandered too far away from their unmistakably English sound of David Bowie getting together with the Smiths and glamming things up over songs of romanticism, drugs, debauchery and over seedy goings-on. In fact, they were touching on issues like sexual fluidity long before it moved anywhere near to the mainstream, while displaying a raw subversiveness that Blur and especially Oasis couldn’t touch in a month of Sundays. This is still more than evident in a set that draws heavily from their most recent album, Autofiction, and their first three discs.

Kicking off with “Turn Off Your Brain and Yell”, Anderson is immediately prowling the stage, on his knees or just howling lines like “C’mon feel the sunshine” at the front row of tonight’s audience. However, it isn’t long before we are into a run of “The Drowners”, “Animal Nitrate”, a particularly rowdy “Trash”, and the howling feedback of Richard Oakes’ guitar on “We Are the Pigs”, and Anderson is deep in among the audience, lapping up the adulation.

It’s not just feral rock’n’roll that’s on offer, though, and Anderson and keysman Neil Codling turn “Life is Golden” into a beautiful torch song, before suggesting that we “make some noise” and launching into “The Only Way I Can Love You”. The final run of classics is similarly lairy, with Anderson swinging his microphone around his head, Roger Daltrey-style, as “So Young” comes to an end, and thrashing out a barnstorming version of “Metal Mickey” and a euphoric “New Generation” before exiting the stage.

Returning with an encore of “Beautiful Ones”, again it isn’t long before Anderson is back in the audience and causing all kinds of chaos. However, he eventually crawls back onto the stage and with a “Thank you, Birmingham. You have been beautiful!” the house lights come up with everyone feeling more than a sense of satisfaction about the evening’s entertainment.

Anderson is immediately prowling the stage, on his knees or just howling at the front row of tonight’s audience

rating

Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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Great critique

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