SUEDE Kenwood House 23 August 2013
What matters is not how much money you make, but how much it means. You can't buy love. You can't buy meaning. You cannot buy passion. There's no lust in a coma. Do something that matters, or don't bother at all. Which is why, perhaps, to some it matters that Blur play Hyde Park to 60,000 and Suede play Kenwood to 7,000. What matters is not how many people there are, but how many people care. Hence, with Kenwood House, Suede play their only UK show of the summer to a thinner audience than Blurasis, but also, this is Suede as a living, working, breathing band, not a rarely seen Halleys-Comet nostalgia show.
To mark the 20th anniversary of their debut, the set is heavy on material from their first album – with b-sides “The Big Time” (complete with flugelhorn), and “He's Dead” alongside the rarely aired “She's Not Dead.” Perhaps surprisingly light on big hits – no sign of “Saturday Night”, “Lazy”, “We Are The Pigs”, “Can't Get Enough” and “Everything Will Flow” - the set, acquitted by the Mk2 line up of Richard Oakes and Neil Codling, sags slightly in the middle a half hour or so of album tracks are performed to the delight of a few. Outside of the 'Reserved Enclosure' – the posh word for an expensive Golden Circle who are close enough to get covered in drips of flying sweat – enforced by stone faced men in yellow jackets, the crowd is uncharacteristically reserved. Fun only happens inside the 'reserved enclosure', passive spectating and exclusion for the rest, which was never part of Suede's ethos : this music always spoke of breaking down barriers and changing worlds and all of us together, not of having special cliques. If anything, it seems this reminds me of a typical summer jamboree, the kind of summer shows that are a fixture of the mainland with a small crowd in a park on the outskirts of a city. Suede used to be a band about the concrete and the gasoline ; now it all seems to be green fields and nature. The sign, if you will, of a band moving as such to a very big house in the country.
And it's all over very quickly : a scant 90 minutes and finished by 10.30, as we queue politely for a bus so a snot to offend the ears of millionaires in the big houses nearby. “Electricity” - the rarely performed lead single from “Head Music” (which wasn''t even a regular fixture on the albums tour) – burns, as it has been ten years since I last saw it performed. It goes very quickly ; all Suede gigs do, with the band aflame. Anderson stalks the stage as the crafted and refined millionaire he is, but, at the same time, also still the skinny, poor runt he was when I first saw them 21 years ago. If you forget where you came from, you forget who you are. Even as the band neglect “Heroine”, “Hit Me” and “High Rising”, due to time, there's a hefty set here, with six of the new songs fitting in perfectly, including a gorgeous, shimming “What Are You Not Telling Me?”, and a final, powering “Beautiful Ones” that dispels once and for all, any notion of 'golden years', for as long as Suede make records as good as “Bloodsports”, we are still in the golden years. It may be an Indian summer, a second chance, but there are few bands who I genuinely could claim are as good the second time round as the first : If you were one of the crowd here, then you, and Suede, are one of the few. It's not necessarily growing old gracefully, but Suede are a band that are growing old appropriately ; never stuck in, or ignoring, the annals of history, recognising that who we are now is a result of where we came from, and that you can never have got to here without having coming from there, and where else would you rather be than living in this moment?
The Big Time
It Starts And Ends With You
She's Not Dead
Killing of a Flashboy
For The Strangers
Sometimes I Feel I'll Float Away
What Are You Not Telling Me?
The Wild Ones