“It Had To Be Done” mutters singer Brett Anderson self-deprecatingly as he introduces ‘By The Sea’ to the faithful who have gathered in throngs from across all corners of the world. Bexhill’s tourist board must be beaming from ear to ear given the impressive distances that some fans traveled to be at this intimate gathering. Not that said fans weren’t grinning themselves.
Gasps of equal shock and awe greeted the arrival of opening number ‘Painted People’, a seldom played early B-side, which spun an impressive frenzy for an audience in their thirties and forties. The appreciation continued to the airing of ‘Snowblind’ from 2013’s Bloodsports, the critically acclaimed album that finally put the demon back into Suede in terms of new music.
The fans were duly rewarded with a trio of B-Sides. ‘To The Birds’ and ‘My Insatiable One’ preceded the first airing of the Coming Up B-side ‘Sound Of The Streets’ in 20 years. Without any prior warning we were than treated to two new songs. A full band rendering of the gorgeous ‘Tightrope’, which had previously been aired in acoustic form and ‘I Can’t Give Her What She Wants’, a seethingly dramatic and dark track that hangs threadbare off Brett’s vocals, which rise and fall accordingly in glorious fashion, holding the pumped up audience in an icy grip.
In the second half of the set we’re treated to many of the hits, with even the more fair weather fans in the back half of the small auditorium being whipped up into the fervor that is Suede at full power. Brett Anderson is always a sight to behold live, but tonight there was a purveying sense that the singer had peaked even his high standards. Writhing around stage like someone twenty years his junior, bursting into the crowds at every giving opportunity and po-going around the stage like an Oi! fan in the late 70’s.
As any gig goer will testify, it’s something special when an audience and artist are in perfect harmony. The atmosphere rises to something almost gospel in nature. For many of the devoted on the barrier, Suede may just be a religion for them. As the likes of ‘So Young’ and ‘Metal Mickey’ thrashed out their glam riffs, the fans were in a state of exorcism, casting aside the outside world and losing themselves in a spiralling moment that seemed over way too quickly. As the fans gave it their all, bouncing and singing (or screaming) every lyric back, the band seemed to respond with just as much energy (and a playful grin or two from Anderson).
The hurricane of a main set closed with the classic trio of ‘Trash’, ‘Animal Nitrate’ and ‘Beautiful Ones’, probably just before some fans fainted of exhaustion… upon the band’s return to stage we were treated to a suite of tracks from the glorious artistic peak that is Dog Man Star. Retaining (maybe even building) in epicness since it’s release over 20 years ago, it made for a moving end to a night that impressed even the most seasoned of fans.
‘2 Of Us’ and ‘Still Life’ still move mountains with their drama and gravitas while the tension and sexual energy of the epic ‘Asphalt World’ was only heightened by a fantastically wild and feedback driven solo from lead guitarist Richard Oakes.
The band may have stormed Glastonbury festival over the following weekend, but this was a hurricane in comparison, showing exactly why the faithful are still devoted all these years later.
Setlists courtesy of Setlist.fm