TVD Live Shots: Suede and Manic Street Preachers at the Fillmore Silver Spring, 11/18

PHOTOS: RACHEL LANGE | It’s a frigid November evening and the line outside the Fillmore Silver Spring stretches down the block and around the corner. Ticketholders squeeze through the doors one at a time, torn between anger and amusement at the exhaustive absurdity of the security checkpoint. It takes less time to get into the Vatican. Bags are dumped out, bodies patted down, each individual key on every keyring inspected with meticulous attention. “I’ve been waiting in this line longer than I’ve been waiting to see Suede!” someone jokes, loudly. A few people laugh, but others are beginning to grumble. They can hear the music from inside already, and they’re justifiably pissed to be missing it.

Some of them have waited decades for this. While the Manics have made their way Stateside a couple of times in recent memory, Suede hasn’t made landfall (except a one-off appearance at Coachella in 2011) in a quarter-century. The fans are out in full force, and while some are local to the DMV, others have traveled from much further afield. They have plenty of time to swap stories while they wait to have their keys and their tickets and probably their fillings examined. A couple on my left tells me they drove four hours to be here. They, at least, don’t seem to mind waiting a little longer.

When I finally make my way through the doors, the vibe inside is, well, manic. Nobody’s here just for the hell of it. Most of the crowd is about the same age as Suede and the Manics themselves, but they all seem to be seventeen again for the evening. They’re double-fisting 40s, sucking on vape pens somehow smuggled past the gestapo, hollering along to every song, and underscoring every riff with roars of adulation. Welsh flags wave from the balcony. A man wears an empty cup on his head like a party hat. People snap selfies like downtown tourists in front of the Lincoln Memorial. The guy beside me, already too drunk to stand up without leaning on his girlfriend or the bar, is criminally tone deaf but he’s having so much fun it’s hard to fault him for it. “This is the best night of my life,” he announces, to no one in particular.

Suede’s return is, in a word, triumphant. When I spoke to bass player Mat Osman ahead of the tour about their new album, Autofiction, he told me they wanted to play like they were teenagers again—and they bring the best of that energy to the Fillmore. The setlist is a mix of old favorites and fresh tracks, and the crowd’s enthusiasm is unflagging. Frontman Brett Anderson thrashes and writhes like a man possessed, winds the microphone cord around his body like a snake charmer, and wraps the audience around his finger.

The band can do no wrong—even when they do. “I fucked up!” Anderson declares, without a trace of embarrassment, after losing his voice for a verse during a brief acoustic interlude. Nobody seems to care. “Speaking of fucking stuff up,” he says, by way of a segue. The band barrels into “Heroine” and everybody goes berserk. The place is packed to the rafters. General admission is one massive mosh pit. “We didn’t know what to expect,” Anderson confesses at the end of the set. “This is our favorite, this is a proper audience.” The applause is deafening. “See you in 25 years,” he says, and leaves everyone howling for more.

Suede is a tough act to follow, but the Manics know how to make an entrance. While guitar techs tune up and the crew reset the stage, an enormous banner descends from the ceiling, featuring the striking blonde horn player familiar from the cover of 2011’s compilation album National Treasures.

The band swans onstage with eclectic but emphatic style; Nicky Wire looks every inch a rock star swathed in an enormous magenta feather boa. The others opt to act their age in jeans and button-downs, inclined to let the music do the talking. James Dean Bradfield makes magic with his striking white Les Paul. The room shivers and stomps and shrieks with every tweak of the strings. Every lick is finger-lickin’ good. The audience eats it up, and the feeling seems to be mutual. Wire echoes Anderson, confessing that the Fillmore’s put the more famous 9:30 Club to shame.

Everybody leaves the venue high on the night. People press-gang the merch tables and spill out onto the sidewalk still deaf from the subwoofers, stumbling drunk and screaming their favorite lyrics at each other. They don’t seem to feel the cold anymore. However long the line and however long the wait, it was worth every minute.



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