Hop Farm Festival, Kent, July 1

Richard Johnson/NME
Photo: Richard Johnson/NME
After the seemingly endless charge of reuniting ’90s heroes, it feels like we’ve finally reached phase two of the operation. Blur have unveiled their first new tracks (bar Record Store Day release ‘Fool’s Day’) in nine years, while The Stone Roses have a few festival dates before they return to the studio. Tonight, Britpop dandies Suede join the reinvigorated ranks.

Heading up the final night of Hop Farm, this may be their second festival season back in the game, but with a glimpse into forthcoming album six on the cards, it feels less like an exercise in nostalgia, more like a band with one hell of a lot of hits to get through. Dishing out a hefty portion of the big guns (‘We Are The Pigs’, ‘Trash’, ‘Animal Nitrate’) early on, Brett Anderson and his uniformly black-clad troupe succeed in getting the relatively tame (this is Hop Farm, after all) crowd on side from the off, while ensuring the set is more than just a prolonged wait for the singalongs. A sweeping ‘Stay Together’ receives a rare outing, while the sleazy stomp of B-side ‘Killing Of A Flashboy’ finds Anderson, if not in quite as arse-slapping, raunchy form as his heyday, then three shades more flamboyant than most men his age.

Between this we get two glimpses into where the band are headed, both of which are more promising than where they previously ended up. ‘Sabotage’, all atmospherically doomy guitar parts and nasal cries of “the climate of our greed”, is a slow-burner but a satisfying one, while ‘For The Strangers’ – receiving its first ever live outing – makes for a grand successor to ‘Saturday Night’. Both fall on the more sedate end of the band’s spectrum, but hint
there’s still a viable way for the group to retain their innate sense of drama.

And, as Anderson makes his way along the crowd barrier during a final, epic ‘Still Life’, the frantic mob that flail out to reach him prove there’s enough love for Suede to make their renewed activity exciting news.
Lisa Wright

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