Suede alive

Joe Costello watches Suede re-visited at Wolverhampton Civic Hall.

My final gig of the year pending a last minute invitation to Jools’ Annual Hootenanny (what do you mean, they record it in October?) and probably fitting that it was a repeat performance of one of my most memorable evenings out from the previous twelve months.

This has proved to be a tricky review in the end for me to write, having already covered identical ground earlier in the year and each proving to be enjoyable, how to convey this without repetition? Unlike the band, I can’t dip into a peerless back catalogue to pad out my paragraphs or fill in the silences when guitars are being swapped and retuned by engaging in with banter with the audience and an air of “Will this do?” hangs on every keystroke.

Should you ever wish to recreate the thrill of passing through airport security without leaving the country, you could do worse than run the gauntlet outside the venue where snaking barriers, metal detectors and overzealous staff to rival those at BHX can be found. That aside, it is good to see The Civic back on the tour circuit after a lengthy absence and in my opinion the best venue of its size in the area and a space more suited to the Suede live experience than Symphony Hall.

The opening half-dozen songs match those performed during their visit in March, three new ones followed by three old ones, The Drowners performed partly in the mosh pit by Anderson before the set settled into the familiar yet unpredictable mix of favourites and surprises. Last year’s Autofiction album as expected provides the larger part of the material performed tonight: “Our new album and our best album”, as Anderson himself puts it whenever he introduces a track from it.

Comparing the two shows, I would say the March performance was more to my liking but not by a huge amount and that’s purely on the basis of there being a greater number of songs I was familiar with that night than were showcased here in Wolverhampton. Again at the midpoint, the rest of the band make way for Anderson to perform a solo acoustic guitar backed song, Europe Is Our Playground on this occasion. My perusal of setlists from the other shows on this short tour indicate that a different track is performed in this segment on each night. Also different every night is the song performed accompanied only by multi instrumentalist Neil Codling’s piano, High Rising on this occasion and provides great contrast to the energy and intensity of the rest of the show as well as a acting as a testament to the breadth and quality of three decades in the business.

The main set ends with an extended version of the anthemic Beautiful Ones, Anderson twirling the mic over his head before a return for a two song encore, Anderson inviting the audience to sing the lion’s share of That Boy On the Stage, admitting his falsetto can’t cope with the demands of this particular sang at this stage in the proceedings and a final triumphal blast of New Generation and they are off, leaving me to ponder venturing out to the nation’s backwaters to see them again on their joint headlining tour with the Manic Street Preachers in the summer.