Suede / Razorlight - Manchester Academy 1 - 8.12.03

If this review seems a little hazy I hope you forgive me. There's close to 15 pints of the Wife beater's favourite alcoholic beverage (Ed: Me tinks he means Stella if i'm not mistaken) and my memories from last night. It's slowly being pieced together though with help from the team at Designer Magazine who informed me i'd been strutting round the venue like some pimping Huggy Bear mo fo with a vodka and diet coke in one hand and the obligatory Stella in the other. And there were glamma kids as well I think...the Beautiful Ones who'd made the effort for Suede's last gig in Manchester bringing out the feather boa's as if their life's depended upon it and each with a frown at the typically suburban types who'd jumped on board with "Coming Up" and missed the bands best moments.

But wait before Suede, weren't Razorlight on. The band we'd previously described as a shambolic mess that made the Libertines look good before realizing we were in fact completely wrong on that one and while they aren't the saviours of rock they're certainly a promising prospect. "Rock And Roll Lies", a song about going to a gig, getting blitzed and feeling the after effects in the morning before doing it all again the night after. It's my life in under 3 minutes and this is every Razorlight song in tonight's set. "Action" and "Yeah Yeah Yeah" are lost Jam songs while "In The City" shows the stripped down sound that make the band sound so raw and mindblowing. For all their in yer face New Rock Revolution imagery and the fact that you can't deny (guitarist Björn Ågren excepted) that each of the guys are set to create their own Japanese fan clubs there's a very stripped down low key air to the band which allows Borrels vocals and lyrics to stand out. It may take time, but once you get Razorlight you'll really want to seek out everything about them.

The anticipation for Suede is overwhelming. The first time i'd seen was at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester, it was the first tour Richard Oakes had done and I can still remember Brett jumping into the audience only to clamber back on stage with one shoe missing and his mouth dripping with blood. Then there was the recent Move Festival appearance about 15 months ago where they supported Bowie. So many times i'd seen the band across this city and yet this was going to be the last ever gig Brett and the boys were going to play in Manchester. As the lights dim and the intro music of "Jerusalem" floats over the crowd there's a real sense of joy and despair. Joy that i'm here to witness the last gig and despair cos it's the first time a band this important had split in my lifetime. Rather than deliver the typical Greatest Hits style set, they set about delivering the highlights of their 5 album career with "Pantomime Horse", a classic moment from the bands debut album. "Animal Nitrate" follows in glorious fashion with Brett energized throughout which begs the questions why the need for the split. As with all bands they have their low points artistically and rather than "Filmstar" or "Attitude" they could have played "Killing Of A Flashboy" or "Obsessions", a criminally underrated single with the line "It's the T-shirts that you choose like you're in the Air Force" which always reminds me of a friend who permanently lives in combat tops. Ultimately everything's down to personal choice and any combination of songs would have had someone complaining that their favourite Suede track was left out so by going for the mixture of hits (the four song kiss to the cynics of "So Young", "New Generation", "Trash" and "Beautiful Ones" before the encore) and the beautiful trio that took us to the end - "2 Of Us", "Asphalt World", "Still Life". The latter saw many a grown man cry, myself nearly included but I managed to hold them back for fear of looking like a blubbering wreck, and was a fitting dramatic climax.

Some bands outstay their welcome. For Suede they've simply walked away too early. They're still relevant no matter what other publications say. Just don't leave it too long before you guys come back.

Alex McCann

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