TVD Live Shots: Suede at the Eventim Apollo, 10/13

I was gutted to find out that Suede and Glasvegas were playing on the same night in London last week. Not that one is the equivalent to the other—although it could be argued that they shared similar stories regarding their debut records—but as an expat living in the UK and the fact that both bands do not tour as extensively as I would prefer, I put them on the same pedestal personally. Thanks to the Brit-pop gods above, Suede announced a second show at the legendary Eventim Apollo which solved the dilemma. I know, I know, first world problems…

If you are a regular reader of my reviews, then you know that I have a special place in my rock ‘n’ roll heart for all things Britpop, especially the standouts from the mid-90s. Suede is one of them. They stood out from the pack with a sound that is all their own. Their fourth album Head Music was supposed to be the one that “broke” them in the States (beyond the hipsters, that is). But it didn’t—and it’s become a cliché, the story of a band that is huge in the UK, yet unable to penetrate the US. The hype almost always outweighs the substance, or in this case, the US just wasn’t prepared for something of this magnitude. Suede is a different kind of beast. This wasn’t Oasis, it wasn’t Blur, it was more Bowie/ T-Rex/ Smiths-esque.

Having never seen Suede before I had no idea what to expect. Holy shit these guys were on fire out of the gates. One would never guess that frontman Brett Anderson just turned 50. The energy, charisma, the passionate crawls, the taunting of the audience, the fucking jump shots—Jesus Christ this guy had more energy than most punk rock singers. You can’t watch Brett and not see a bit of Bryan Ferry, and that’s okay because like all the great musicians in the world, he takes inspiration and makes it his own.

The show was, of course, sold out entirely and the Eventim Apollo was buzzing with anticipation. Touring in support of the band’s 8th studio album, The Blue Hour is a beautiful record from start to finish. It’s one that finds the group relying less on quirky hooks to drive the songs forward and instead on atmospheric, almost haunting soundscapes, with lush production, thought-provoking lyrics, and the occasional crunching guitar riff to bring it all home. There is no doubt this album will be topping many year-end lists as it is truly a remarkable feat. Fourteen glorious numbers without any filler or fluff prove that Brett Anderson and company still have plenty to say and are anything but tired or running out of ideas almost three decades into their career.

The setlist was a celebration of the band’s music both old and new, while coming out of the gates swinging with the first four cuts from The Blue Hour. I have to say that I was a bit disappointed that the sequence halted just before my favorite song on the new record, “Chalk Circles,” which was surprisingly absent from the setlist. That being said, it was a show for the ages and Brett continually worked the crowd into a frenzy only to break the energy down for a short acoustic number without any amplification at all that prompted the audience to sing along in a gang-style vocal to every word.

The encore finished in high style, opening with the classic “The Beautiful Ones” and closing with a new classic “Life is Golden”—a spectacular night celebrating an exceptional band with a brilliant new record. The only question left on the table for this tour and the new album is, when and if original guitarist and celebrated songwriter Bernard Butler will ever rejoin the band. Either way, I very much hope to see Suede again as two sold-out nights in London aren’t nearly enough fanfare to celebrate their dazzling new record.

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