Gig review: Suede at O2 Academy Leeds

Suede at O2 Academy Leeds. Picture: David HodgsonSuede at O2 Academy Leeds. Picture: David Hodgson
Suede at O2 Academy Leeds. Picture: David Hodgson
The medial temporal lobe part of the brain deals with long term memory, storing things you’ve long forgotten you even knew, how to ride a bicycle, the smell of talcum powder at your grandparent’s house, how to ask for directions to the swimming pool in French. And Suede songs. There are lots of Suede songs stored in there.

The 26 years since release of their eponymous debut album has seen the Oxfordshire band release track after track that have become indelibly engrained into the consciousness of a generation who grew up in the Britpop era, from which only the strongest thrived. Once the opening bars of As One had died down and charismatic lead singer Brett Anderson brought his wiry frame to the front of the stage, the reasons as to their longevity were made apparent.

Last year’s release The Blue Hour was a glorious return to form that, being honest, they had never really lost but all the tracks from it sounded re-energised, despite Anderson now being a 51-year-old who has ‘eaten a lot of crisps’, used here as an excuse to ignore a request to remove his shirt in front of a sold out Leeds crowd.

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He may as well have done, throwing himself around and posturing with such exuberance for nearly two hours that it was ripped to shreds anyway. Tracks from The Blue Hour featured heavily throughout the evening but unsurprisingly it was songs from the band’s long career that gained the most fervent responses.

Brett Anderson of Suede at O2 Academy Leeds. Picture: David HodgsonBrett Anderson of Suede at O2 Academy Leeds. Picture: David Hodgson
Brett Anderson of Suede at O2 Academy Leeds. Picture: David Hodgson

First evidenced from the opening bars of We Are The Pigs, four tracks in, Anderson stood on a platform at the front of the stage, microphone being lassoed around his head, finally ending up wrapped round his body. Anderson is the consummate rock star, throwing mic stands around, lying on the floor, performing on all fours, roaming through the audience. Can’t Get Enough showed Suede’s punk sensibilities, the way the quintet fluctuates between that soundscape to then strip it back through Tides and to The Wild Ones being a joy.

By now the brain is working overtime, recalling hit after hit in a thoroughly engaging set. Metal Mickey, debut single The Drowners, Animal Nitrate together with some that haven’t seen the light of day as regularly, The Asphalt World and Daddy’s Speeding, the latter delivered solo by Anderson sat on a monitor, mic on the floor, the venue silent.

Flytipping was written as the supreme set closer, building as it does to a strident and raucous cumulation. They are of course back with Beautiful Ones, sung in unison by 2,500 voices and Anderson’s song for his son, Life is Golden.

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Suede are as an important part of the UK music scene as any band, the reasons for that being the laid out bare for all of Leeds to see, the memory banks fully refreshed for the foreseeable future. A night of at times staggering quality.