Friday, December 1, 2023
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Suede at City Hall, Newcastle Review

Suede is on top form with their Autofiction tour. Brett Anderson, the sweating frontman with cuffs the same size as that of a king’s robe, throwing himself around the stage like a flittering Catherine wheel, relying on two cooling fans to keep him anywhere close to cool. Bassist Mat Osman enjoys himself as much as he always does at these junctures. Swaying his hips, aiming his bass and pointing the neck at the balcony like a rifleman who also happens to hold together some of the best bits of British musical history. Cementing that legacy-defining immediacy is no sweat for Suede, even if the dripping-wet frontman, darting through the crowd for debut single The Drowners, takes the Newcastle audience and the band on stage back to those early days on this latest tour. 

Rattling off rarity Indian Strings from their “shit album,” Head Music, as Anderson puts it, is a delightful treat that sees a major shift in structure to that of the Albert Hall triumph. Nostalgia paves the way toward some nice outings of Shadow Self and That Boy On the Stage, two strong pieces missing from a tighter juncture in the moderate chapel last week. Key to those differences though is the form Anderson and company take. It is well worth seeing Suede twice. For every absence of Black Ice and To The Birds from the Manchester set is the inclusion of similar fan favourites and deep cuts that did not make themselves present elsewhere. Newcastle attendees were dealt a gorgeous rendition of Heroine and one of the most powerful acoustic touches Anderson has given so far to The Wild Ones. 

They still are the wild ones. Expectations are high, the St. Patrick’s Day crowd is inevitably rowdy and gearing toward rude, but Suede as a presence on stage are as good as it gets. Unchanged openings for Suede mark a clear way of involving the audiences old and new. Turn Off Your Brain and Yell from their latest album is not just a mood setter but a command for what follows. Personality Disorder and 15 Again continue that new material high before diving deep into the annals of early works with crowd infiltrating The Drowners and left hook Animal Nitrate. Where Suede change it up for Newcastle, as they have done for a handful of the recent shows, is detailing Trash early in the set, a way to win over those that may be there to hear those hits, of which there are many. So Young still sounds as gorgeous as it does on the studio pressing from way back when, but She Still Leads Me On holds its own and is up there with the very best of Suede. 

Autofiction provides Suede with a new and enchanting lease on life. Anderson cements, yet again, his talents as a stage presence as well as a musician who understands the vocal range at his disposal, the effect he has on an audience and how to win them over. Desperate Journalist open the show, as they did in Manchester and their presence is of much the same quality. Darting through a nicely rounded sound, coming off the back of a live EP release, exciting times lie ahead. Two people have already joked about the irony of a desperate journalist writing for a band named Desperate Journalist, but the sincerity and explosive nature of the latter are well worth noting time and time again. Warm-up act sounds like a throwaway tag, to get a feel for an audience before the show begins, but Desperate Journalist are worth getting there for before the doors even open. 

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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