Suede - O2 Academy, Bristol
The worst traffic jam I’ve ever been stuck in means I miss both support acts, so apologies to Teleman (and whoever else was playing). This was the third time I’ve seen Suede in the last year or so, and in what seem to be ever more intimate venues. In 2012 I saw them headline Hop Farm Festival - well, I saw some of them as I alternated with My Morning Jacket on one of the other stages. Having felt that I cheated myself a little of reliving my youth I saw them headline Alexandra Palace in March 2013 in a one-off gig, but the chance to see them in Bristol at the smaller but perfectly formed O2 Academy was too tempting.
It's great little venue, much better laid out than most of the other Academies I’ve been to, and with an excellent sound system. The room is wide and not very deep, so standing at the bar gives you a great view of the stage. This was the busiest I’ve seen the venue, with students and refugees from the band's 90s heyday standing side by side.
The 2013 version of Suede are certainly confident, apart from ‘Pantomime Horse’ they open with a run of tracks from their latest release, Bloodsports, including relative big hitters ‘Barriers’ and ‘It Starts And Ends With You’, but the real show starts with the grinding opening guitar of ‘Filmstar’ a song which has an even sleazier quality live. This run of older tunes - ‘Trash’ and ‘Animal Nitrate’ follow - almost lifts the roof off and the band have a great sense of pace about their setlist. Nothing shows this better than the quieter moments later in the gig, before the explosive ‘So Young’ kicks off the final furlong of hits.
Throughout the show lead guitarist Richard Oakes is playing his ass off, and Brett Anderson is in classic frontman mode, all hair flicks and theatrical poses, he makes regular visits to the front of the mosh pit. He’s definitely got a swagger about him. And he genuinely seems to be enjoying the gig, with not just the usual platitudes but ‘This feels like the tour just got started’ and ‘This is the first gig of the tour… you know what I mean.’ and you just get the feeling he really means it.
At a time when so many of today’s acts just stand about on stage, there is something refreshing about seeing a band that could coast by on the hits producing a show as electric and fun as this.