Suede - Manchester Academy - 3.11.02

Suede have been round long enough now to know how to work a crowd. That's why last time they played Manchester they were supporting Bowie at Old Trafford Cricket Ground and whereas in a similar position most bands would have simply fallen before they even walked on stage - Suede walked on stage and commanded the attention of hardcore Bowie fans and walked victorious despite the fact it was in the middle of a torrential downpour. Despite the fact this is their own headline tour the crowd are every bit as critical, fully aware that Suede are not the young pups they used to be and that the androgynous sex god Neil Codling has been replaced by ex-Strangelove member Alex Lee.

Level 1 ...Working the crowd in gently, preferring to wine and dine them rather than going in for the full on sexual assault. Just Brett and Alex Lee take the stage with the acoustic rendition of "Simon" - a quintessential Suede ballad with Brett rearing the focus back to himself as the face of Suede. It's easy to forget that over the past 3 or 4 years the face of Suede has been the younger models of Richard Oakes and until recently Neil Codling who left the band with M.E.

Level 2 ... Teasing us gently with a little foreplay they launch into their comeback single "Positivity". A message of intent after the well documented problems Anderson has been through recently and one of those classic new beginning style songs, which have been sung as long as time. It's also probably the sort of song Mariah Carey wished she could write when she wrote "Through The Rain" and not that strange since Brett once said when he writes songs he does so thinking someone like Mariah Carey would sing them.

Level 3 ... The main event. Suede in overdrive covering the bands whole career. "Metal Mickey", "So Young" and Animal Nitrate" from the bands debut. "Trash" and "The Beautiful Ones" from "Coming Up". And "Obsessions" and "Streetlife" from the "A New Morning" album. The latter a song about Brett (and our) favourite band of the moment Oxide and Neutrino and the former criminally denied the number 1 position shows exactly how times have changed since Suede were hailed the best new band in Britain. It's not Suede that have changed, they're essentially the same band that brought them the acclaim in the first place, but people are so blinded they rather spend their time watching Big Brother or Celebrity Fit Club than to listen to real music.

Suede are one of the few bands still around that can genuinely say their new material matches the classic singles of old. When you go to see Oasis it's not so you can hear "Little By Little", it's to hear "Live Forever". When you see Pulp it's to hear "Common People", not "Bad Cover Version". And should Blur ever return with their long awaited album we'll still crave for the likes of "For Tomorrow" or "Song 2". Whether Suede make any impact on the charts is frankly irrelevant because I can honestly sit here and say that "Obsessions" is possibly the best song the band have ever written and that fact alone ensures that it can only be a matter of time before the general public once again embraces the band with open arms

Alex McCann

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