So here I am once again at Hammersmith Odeon (aka Apollo) to see the mighty Suede on their ‘The Blue Hour’ 2018 European tour.
Support was from ‘The Horrors’, a loud dark set throughout. Lighting was distinctly purple, blue and black, from a 5-piece band all dressed in black in front of a black canvass depicting what I’d suggest was a version of the famous ‘The Scream’ painting. It was a wall of noise, not unpleasant in itself, but each song kind of seemed the same – apart from a couple of slower ones. The singer, doing his best Marilyn Manson throughout, could have been singing anything, you simply couldn’t hear him through the cacophony of keyboards/drums/guitars. At times like these I’d question the skills of the mixing desk. They did their 30 mins and left, I’d have screamed but no one would have heard through the ringing in their ears. I did like the glowing pyramid thingy on the keyboard players desk – whatever it was!
And so, to the main act, 21:00 ghostly shadows appear behind a semi-transparent gauze and the band launch into ‘As One’ of the new album. The entire song is played behind the gauze with the back-lighting projecting onto the band producing a haunting effect to perfectly match the song. Suede were excellent throughout, but really this was the Brett Anderson show. Brett certainly knows how to engage and transfix an audience, what a front man. He swaggered, leapt, ran around the stage, got in with the audience on numerous occasions and used his mic cable as a prop like a lion tamer’s leash or swinging it around his head and body. Blessed with good looks Brett was dressed in black jeans and a dark blue shirt and he looked every bit the cool ‘Filmstar’. After the first few songs his shirt was drenched so he undid a few buttons to show off his athletic sweaty torso. Quite what some people standing near me in winter coats were doing is beyond me (it was roasting inside) – the Apollo does after all have a cloakroom!
The rest of the band pretty much stayed in the shadows, enabling Brett to do what he does best. They stayed pretty stone faced throughout in contrast to a constantly smiling over exuberant Brett who looked like he really was having a bloody great time with his 5000 devoted audience. Brett’s souring vocals were ably supported by a polished band comprising Richard Oakes – guitars, Simon Gilbert – drums, Mat Osman – bass and Neil Codling – keyboards, guitars (looking increasingly like Thin Lizzy’s Scott Gorham).
The songs were a mix of old classics and new tracks from ‘The Blue Hour’. In fact, 60% of the songs were from their first and currently last LPs with ‘Dog Man Star’ and ‘Coming Up’ also featuring heavily. All the info is below courtesy of a quick Excel pivot table!
Weirdly enough for a London band this was the first time Suede have played the Hammersmith Apollo. Judging by the rapturous applause from a hysterical sell-out crowd it certainly won’t be the last. Brett mentioned that his wife was in the audience and that occasionally she’d ask him about his death. “Scatter my ashes across London. Hyde Park is nice SW2” came his reply.
The band steamed through a 24-song set interspersed nicely with new and old classics, my favourites being: Filmstar, Trash, Animal Nitrate, We Are the Pigs and The 2 of Us. I downloaded the new LP and was frantically listening to it on the tube to the gig so as to be familiar with the songs. The songs were interesting, atmospheric and catchy (future indie rock classics – mark my words) from the off but I did struggle to hear them properly thanks to the noisy Central Line! Thankfully Suede made them far more accessible! Near the end of the set Brett tried something different – he sang with an acoustic guitar and no microphone. With mobiles aloft the crowd now in silence listened and recorded the occasion – I’m sure YouTube will be inundated with the spectacle. Whether or not he was heard at the back of he stalls or in the circle is anybody’s guess.
Suede Hammersmith Apollo Set List (click on link to view video)
- As One – (The Blue Hour, 2018)
- Wastelands – (The Blue Hour, 2018)
- Outsiders – (Night Thoughts, 2016)
- We Are the Pigs – (Dog Man Star, 1994)
- So Young – (Suede, 1993)
- Heroine – (Dog Man Star, 1994)
- The Drowners – (Suede, 1993)
- He’s Dead – (Suede, 1993)
- Tides – (The Blue Hour, 2018)
- Roadkill – (The Blue Hour, 2018)
- Sabotage – (Blood Sports, 2013)
- Dolly – (Suede, 1993)
- It Starts and Ends with You – (Blood Sports, 2013)
- Filmstar – (Coming Up, 1996)
- Metal Mickey – (Suede, 1993)
- Trash – (Coming Up, 1996)
- Animal Nitrate – (Suede, 1993)
- Pantomime Horse – (Suede, 1993) Brett acoustic solo
- The 2 of Us – (Dog Man Star, 1994)
- The Invisibles – (The Blue Hour, 2018)
- Flytipping – (The Blue Hour, 2018)Encore:
- Beautiful Ones – (Coming Up, 1996)
- Life Is Golden – (The Blue Hour, 2018)
The encore began with a Cheshire cat grinning Brett saying “If you don’t know the words to this, I don’t know why you’re here!” before the band triumphantly launch into ‘Beautiful Ones’ followed by ‘Life is Golden’.
Brett is the consummate professional front man. The audience with outstretched hands mauled Brett every time he forayed into the enthusiastic throng. The show ended with Brett going stage right/left with fist clenched beating his heart and smile beaming. We love you too Brett!
He was as energetic as ever tonight enchanting the devoted audience, encouraging them to sing-along, clap, jump etc. At 51, with that cheeky boyish grin, he has never looked better and is clearly loving every moment in the limelight. Suede were Britpop outsiders in the nineties and still remain so except for their devoted fan base. Tremendous stuff lads, certainly not dying off with a whimper.
So, on a balmy mid-October night I left the venue to head back across London in 18° heat thinking what a treat it was to have seen Brett and Suede working the crowd into a lather.
Marko [14 October 2018]