Suede

Suede: Hammersmith Apollo, London (Saturday)

“Misshapes, mistakes, misfits / We'd like to go to town but we can't risk it, oh / 'Cause they just want to keep us out”

Pulp, Different Class, 1996

Every time a Suede gig comes around, it’s a constant reminder that the human condition, the clashing individualism and collective belonging can be precious thing. It’s the musical equivalent of Ken Loach’s working class life and Danny Boyle’s underclass flamboyance.

From the moment Southend’s finest exports The Horrors take to the stage, the sense that the outsiders are taking charge once more is tangible. Quite simply:

“We are the pigs, 
We are the swine, 
We are the stars of the firing line”

Emerging silhouetted ramped up the anticipation of seeing the hip shaping acrylic shirt wearing Anderson. Despite the brilliance of the band, Anderson’s light still burns brightest. Even with all the success and adulation, he still seeks out the most intimate connection with the audience. None more prevalent than on the acoustic (and no microphone) version of ‘The Power’. It’s always been an emotional cog in their live armoury, this rendition became a hymn for the bored and disaffected in England’s satellite towns and perhaps, its truest incarnation.

As the set grows, the realisation of just how remarkable their return to new releases in 2013 unfurls. The brutal examination of a Brett’s relationship with his father on ‘I Don’t Know How To Reach You’ (‘Night Thoughts’ 2016) brings a rare silence as Richard Oakes’ playing haunts this West London audience. ‘The Outsiders’ (‘Night Thoughts’ 2016), with guitar licks from the early days of The Cure, is as romantic as Anderson’s characters have ever been and if alternative pop were still a thing, ‘It Starts An Ends With You’ would be among their best.  Live, it allows Suede to convey that rock n roll desperation, the thirst to be heard is not just for the young.

As five thousand people head to the tube station, the quiet, reserved nature of the Suede fan returns. The staring begins again, Doc Martens are a sign of leprosy once more, and ‘through the slippery city we ride’. Little do they know, that art, in its purest form has been witnessed by people more beautiful than they’ll ever know.

Suede - Night Thoughts

Before 'Bloodsports' was released in 2013, band and fans had been apart for 11 years. It reminded everyone that was ok to look, feel and be different still. With the loss of their hero Bowie a week prior to ‘Night Thoughts’, itsuddenly became imperative this feeling remain alive.

On paper this is a wet dream for Suede fans. The album and song titles suggest their darker side has been tapped into. God bless, because no-one does shattered Bohemia like Brett Anderson.

This is never more evident than on ‘Outsiders’. Glorious memories of ‘Trash’ come flooding back, as Osman’s fine riff rattles around with an air of desolation. It may be a tale of fetid romance but, the closing repetition of outsiders is far more formidable. It serves as a familiar clarion call, one which the marginalised will always be glad to hear.

The rest of the album may not live up to the outstanding quality of ‘Outsiders’ but it has enough to resonate with loyal fans. ‘No Tomorrow’ revives the Bowie-esque glam whilst ‘What I’m Trying To Tell You’ delves into the guitar parts of the ‘Coming Up’ era.

‘I Don’t Know How to Reach You’ allows Osman to sparkle once more on the album. Interestingly though, it takes a more introspective path. The melody throughout and the guitar solo, are something more akin to Noel Gallagher or Johnny Marr’s recent solo efforts. Anderson builds the tension and anguish of the protagonist in the verse thus allowing Osman rare extended guitar solos which are steeped in emotion.

‘Night Thoughts’ at times shines so bright but, too often deviates from this level. It never strays into a poor territory but some of the slower efforts don’t add to the narrative for what is clearly a fine effort in song writing by Anderson.