SUEDE / THE HORRORS / PETER HOOK AND THE LIGHT – Brighton Together The People, 04th September 2016
Towards the end of the British Summer, and Suede, The Horrors, and Peter Hook And The Light play a suburban park in Brighton to around 5,000 people. The 'Together The People' Festival in its first year is a smallish day, bands of a vintage performing to an audience largely, to be honest, made of people of advancing years, parents, or parents having a day off being parents, or parents leaving their children at home with Mum and Dad, or parents here with their kids, of people who are getting older, and to be honest, it's an older crowd that reflects the bands themselves getting older, and wiser. It's odd to be middleaged and listening to songs about taking drugs and gay animal sex in a suburban park on a Sunday night, but it's important to remember where we came from, who we are and who we were and how these experiences shaped us and took us to where we are. If you forget how you got here, you are, after all, lost.
To me, though, moments like this, nights like this are the reason why. Suede allow us to be who we are, not who the asphalt world forces us to be. The kind of people who read books and get up when we want not when the alarm clock orders us to wake. This is why I keep doing this ; to get glimpses of a world that exists for hours at a time then disappears, when we are free. Where we are not bound by rash decisions of twenty years ago and where we can be who we want to be. It might be odd to sing of the way we used to be, and nostalgia is a dangerous drug, but only in moderation.
Arriving at 5.45, I turn up just in time for Peter Hook and The Light. They're a faithful, but ersatz reproduction of New Order. Given that the band are the half-million selling Monaco with the addition of Hook's son Jack on bass, it's somewhat fraudulent to see the predictable set of thirty year old songs that 80% of the musicians on stage had no role in writing. Like Brian Wilson and an army of hired hands. And whilst they are executed flawlessly, and with plenty of flair, The Light are given an hour in afternoon light to present a relative reproduction of Joy Division and New Order songs such as “Blue Monday”. If New Order didn't exist any more, it would probably be thrilling. But The Light are a tribute act to past glories.
The show is good, and to those who haven't seen him before, impressive. But what it lacks is the sense of spectacle and euphoria, the sense of, as his former band often had, of it being unique – for better and for worse, it is predictable, with a standard setlist of 11 or so 'greatest hits' from the first decade of Joy Division/New Order that will please. But it is, if I am honest, not quite as valid as seeing his former bandmates perform these songs. Hook has a unique sound, and one that I miss hearing on new songs. The Light have been touring for six years now, and released not one note of original music. It's a determined backwards look into how good things used to be. I had a great time, but am under no illusion it is anything more than what it is.
Peter Hook :
She's Lost Control,
The Perfect Kiss,
Love Will Tear Us Apart
I last time saw The Horrors around 500 yards away from here, supporting Jarvis Cocker 7 years ago. I didn't like them then and I don't like them now. And there are friends to meet, and food to eat, and drinks to drink.
Suede, meanwhile, close their summer season with a verve and passion that would show up other bands. I saw them supporting a lesser band that was greater loved, and tonight, they have an audience that deserves them ; and respond accordingly. It's no greatest hits set – for they open with two b-sides – but a passionate show of no small meaning. This isn't just another Suede show : it's the closest the band have played to where Mat and Brett grew up this millennia, executing a set of vital album tracks, hits, and oddities that are a determined statement of intent.
Brett Anderson lives vicariously through the show, Suede enjoying the kind of second act in their career that is practically impossible for most bands. One where the newer songs are as good as the old ones. Richard Oakes is as engaged as ever, and he owns these songs. Neil Codling meanwhile has perfected his integration, seemingly both aware of, distanced from, and immersed in – how ridiculous and fabulous something like being in a band can be. Mat Osman and Simon Gilbert have been in the band since near enough inception, and stamp an assured authority over the songs ; albeit they haven't been at every gig thanks to Mat Osman falling foul of fuckwit Visas and Simon falling victim to fuckwit Tuberculosis. Suede now as good as they ever were – which is to say, not better than ever, but certainly at their best.
Being no greatest hits set, the evening is laid bare by the simple power of sound : “The Next Life” is dedicated to Brett's mother, who died 27 years ago to the day of the show. “By The Sea” that precedes it, sees Brett tell us of the morning he walked his children by the beach, reminding him of his own childhood by the same beach. Life comes in circles. Newer songs such as “It Starts And Ends With You” and “Sabotage” sit comfortably and without any gap next to old classics. And whilst only one song from this years tremendous “Night Thoughts” gets an airing, that album has is strength in being experienced as a block, a whole, a cohesive unit where each song compliments each one around it. And thus, “I Can't Give Her What She Wants” is sung by Brett without a microphone as the rest of the band make a delicate squall around him, and what is apparent is this isn't just some bloke clocking on for 80 minutes a night for a paycheque, but a valid artistic rebirth.
There's a typical, predictable greatest hits run of several singles in order. But Suede know their audience. They may have performed “Metal Mickey” at 95% of shows since early 1992, but it is their 'Ace of Spades', and when you have this many hits, you can't help but benefit from a plethora of riches. It is undimmed by time.
Given the importance of the show – 27 years since a death in the family, the nearest show to home in 17 years, and 20 years to the day since the release of “Coming Up” - it sees the band in a sense of euphoria. As a result, they play the first song the band wrote for “Coming Up”, their second debut, the powerful and often un-noticed “Picnic By the Motorway”. It's a final romp through the only song from 'Dog Man Star' – a rampaging beast of “New Generation”, and then by 10pm, it's time to move on. To work tomorrow. Back, to the world of jumble sale mums and office furniture. Every Monday Morning Comes.
Europe Is Our Playground,
Killing Of A Flashboy,
By The Sea,
The Next Life,
It Starts And Ends With You,
I Can't Give Her What She Wants,
She's In Fashion,
Picnic By The Motorway,