Saturday, April 21, 2012
SUEDE Royal Albert Hall 24 March 2010 - DVD release
And it all comes flooding back.
Released two years to the day after the triumphant, do-or-die reunion show at the Albert Hall, Suede capture something that has always been missing before in live releases : the spirit, the fire. The joy.
“Live At The Albert Hall” may be prosaically titled and immaculately presented. But more than that, this is exactly what it felt like to be there. Because Suede weren't just a band. Suede were so much more than your newspaper headlines of Blurasis. Suede were a world you could live in, not a distraction from the world you were forced to live in.
This is the best live document there could be : an perfect capture of the best show the band played. Bottled lightning. With the bands best known, and critically underappreciated lineup, that birthed “Coming Up”, “Head Music” and most of “A New Morning”, this luxuriant four disc set (two DVD's and two CD's), present exactly everything that made Suede as important as air. Sure, the first guitarist isn't there – but he doesn't want to be. And to have him would be to discount huge chunks of the band's work.
There's no sense that this isn't the band's definitive lineup from how they play, or the way that Neil Codling (keyboards, guitars, vocals) and Richard Oakes (guitars) create a symphony of noise. Behind them, Mat Osman and Simon Gilbert, who have been an underappreciated rhythm section fo over 20 years, lock into a precise, glorious groove. The moment where Mat unconsciously taps along to the groove, where the band smile and laugh and joke around inbetween songs, all are captured here with an intimacy you wouldn't get with a stage managed DVD. There's a refreshing, relaxed, and unusual set of angles.
Brett Anderson said that this was the best show Suede ever played. I haven't seen quite as many Suede shows as him, but you better damn fucking believe it.
And, at last, Suede's true vocation – as a passionate and vital live act – is captured. The previous abundance of live footage never quite caught the group the way this does. Suede were overlooked, critically damned in their last few years, and subject to the passing and immature whims of a stupid public and a fickle press, but still, they were something special and so much more than anyone ever thought they were. This set, the best show I've seen them do, captures the essence of Suede better than anything I have ever seen. Perhaps the whole thing can be summed up by Brett Anderson's candid admission as he came off stage that closes the documentary : “I've done a shitload of drugs, but that was the best feeling ever.”
Sure, there's songs. All are present and correct. There is a minor sting by what isn't played – especially when two of the latter day classics “She's In Fashion” and “Obsessions” are dropped on a whim backstage before the encore – but look at what is. Would I have thought that these songs would heard again? Would “The Drowners”, “Metal Mickey”, “Animal Nitrate”, “So Young”, “Wild Ones”, “New Generation”, “Trash”, “Beautiful Ones”, “Saturday Night”, “Film Star”, “Everything Will Flow”, “Can't Get Enough” ever be seen again? And to sound this good? I'm not without critical faculties. I've seen appalling reunions. I've seen perfect ones. This show knocks it out of the park : and is just like being there. When, during the insane and impromptu standing ovation after “Metal Mickey” occurs – something I have not seen before in 919 shows over 20 years – it still gives me chills. I was there, and I couldn't believe it. It's not good enough to be liked or just good. It's only good enough to be loved and brilliant. It's all here.
Every gasp, every drop of sweat and squeal of noise, every moment that made this show the best Suede show there ever was, and here, on the definitive live release that for the first time, truly, captures why I kept coming back and back and back over 50 times, over 20 years, over countries, continents, and timezones. This is Suede, in excelsis.