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Suede at Albert Hall, Manchester Review

Snow lashed the ground outside the Albert Hall in Manchester. Those weather woes could not have been a better backdrop to the warmth of Chapel Hall and how ready Brett Anderson was to dive into the sell-out audience, all there to see Suede. Autofiction was a personal triumph thirty years in the making. Old glories, new triumphs and a likely dry-cleaning bill for Anderson as he sweats, screams and shouts his way through a stunning collection of tracks old and new. Suede are still as good as it gets, their early shine still not fading, but the band have done much to conjure new feeling, new experience and new sound. All of that was on display in roaringly intimate fashion in Chapel Hall. 

Belting out some deep cuts, Suede present the likes of To The Birds and a gorgeous acoustic solo of The Wild Ones as breaks from the continued strengths of their latest album. Turn Off Your Brain and Yell marks an excellent opening track, moving through most of Autofiction but leaving What Am I Without You and That Boy On The Stage for somewhere further down the line, or not at all. Suede has refined their set to include much of their best works, inevitable outings of Trash, So Young and Beautiful Ones. Delicate piano strokes of High Rising tease another classic track but shift into It’s Always the Quiet Ones. Moments like that are key to bringing Suede a bridge between their old and new work. How easily it can blur together is a real treat. 

As is the setlist itself. Nineteen strong tracks, Anderson leaping his way through the crowd, sweaty brow dripping as enamoured fans slide their palms across his arms for a touch of their idol. It was an engrossing display. Endearing longevity from the band who soundtracked the lives of many of those in attendance, who no doubt saw Suede in their primal, original state. Anderson is the ideal frontman. He is that boy on the stage, twirling the microphone around his head, wrapping the wire around him as he uses his musical tool as a prop to emphasise or stress those instrumental beauties. Launching the microphone at the floor so he can sway, swing and smooth out his presence on the stage is a beautiful conclusion to many of the tracks. Anderson is craving a connection with his audience and the presence he has on the stage and in the crowd is infectious. 

Rounding out the set with a classic stretch including Metal Mickey and an extended Beautiful Ones was the inevitable, well-deserved cap to a set filled with confidence in the new material. Rightly so. Autofiction still marks a powerful change of form for Suede in its second iteration. A decade on from their reunion, still going strong and not afraid to look back at some of their classic tracks in a new light, as they do at this Albert Hall set. Suede are in fine form, and that should be expected. Desperate Journalist marked an incredible, mood-setting opening that could have stolen the spotlight right from Suede. Suede and Desperate Journalist make for a quality pairing, the legacy of the former still going strong as the latter look to make a name for themselves. With quality like that, they will have no trouble at all.  

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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