Photo: Richard Marks
O2 Forum, London
February 12 2016
Words: Linn Branson
Photos: Richard Marks, A Different Place, Stella Creasy
You know a gig is one that's a bit special when the three ticket touts outside Kentish Town underground station are trying to buy tickets rather than offload them, while at the Forum's doors, desperate, but ticketless, punters are trying to blag guestlisters' +1's. On this Friday night in London town there seemed only one place everyone wanted to be.
Suede returned like conquering heroes to play possibly one of their best shows ever in the city of their birth in 1989, rise through the ranks of Britpop, until their 'death' in 2003, and subsequent reincarnation seven years later. They're not youngsters anymore, but frontman and very much the focal figure Brett Anderson, now at the age of 48, can still deliver the goods for two hours in the manner that would put many of today's callow teen bands to shame.
To a sold-out Forum they brought their two-part set, consisting of the Roger Sargent film to their latest album 'Night Thoughts', which the band accompanied behind a see-through screen. Played in order, the songs take on a new depth and meaning when heard in the context of the visuals, although admittedly many still seemed to be left unclear exactly what the film was about. Certainly there are some very dark elements at play: 'No Tomorrow', 'Like Kids' and 'I Can't Give Her What She Wants' all stand out.
Photo: A Different Place
To paraphrase football parlance, this was a show of two halves, and after an interval following the more sombre first section, the band returned to deliver the 'Hits & Treats' section - an apt description, as it happens when you hear them run through a catalogue of songs, of which some were written and first performed before many members of the audience were likely to have been born.
From opener 'This Hollywood Life', through 'Killing of a Flashboy', 'Trash' and 'Animal Nitrate', they still sound as fresh as they ever did, with Anderson - often giving security staff a hell of a night - spending almost as much time off stage in amongst the adoring crowds - who jostle crazily in attempts to get close to him - on the floor as he did on it. Before the first of two acoustic numbers (the second, 'Everything Will Flow', coming later during the encore), Anderson took the conversation addicts present to task, telling them to “talk about fuckin’ Eastenders later”, as he pointed out fans who had been following the band over the last weeks on European dates and dedicated the song to them.
Bringing the pace up again with 'So Young', 'Metal Mickey' and 'Beautiful Ones', the crowd by now en masse on their feet, singing, waving and generally at one in appreciation of this quite dazzling live set experience. With an encore of a spine-tingling 'Everything Will Flow', 'To The Birds' and 'New Generation', Suede proved conclusively that while time may have brought maturity, it had not withered them one iota.
Photo: Stella Creasy