October 8, 2003
Suede : London ICA
Five-night residency at London’s 350 capacity ICA playing each of their albums in full on a different night...
Wrenching music out of the hands of shoegazing imbeciles and intravenously injecting it with a heavy dose of glamour and sleaze a decade ago, Suede should have ruled the nineties with a glittery fist.
And now they’ve a five night residency at London’s 350 capacity ICA playing each of their albums in full on a different night. A feat that no-one’s attempted - even Blur only managed to play all their singles in order - a fact that’s almost certainly not lost on lead singer Brett whose animosity with singer Damon is legendary.
At the time of their debut they were as big and important as The Strokes and like them they had more than a whiff of city sleaze. Their sexual charged, deliberately ambiguous glam rock songs still shimmer as Brett wiggles: camper than Graham Norton in a tutu. Debut single ‘The Drowners’ and ‘So Young’ in particular are muscular hymns to a grimy urban landscape where pan sexual yelping and glam guitar beauty compete to a climatic effect. Which can’t be said of new single ‘Attitude’ aired both nights (thanks!) which is a dour bunch of old half-inched glam cobblers that’s more Gary Glitter than David Bowie.
The epic anthems of 'Dog Man Star' the following day are dazzling, inventive and filled with so much ambition and tunes it exposes today’s back-to-basics garage rockers as naval gazing goons with aspirations not worth a sequin. From ‘We Are The Pigs’ to the crushing widescreen onslaught of ‘Asphalt World’ it leaves you breathless.
Tickets for this night went for over a £1,000 a pair on eBay, in contrast those for latest album ‘A New Morning’ that went for merely £100. So there you go: ‘Dog Man Star’ is officially a hundred times better. It’s seldom that you get to mathematically prove your critical opinion. And it’s a pretty incisive message to the band about to unleash a best of. And, no, NME won’t be at the last night.
But of course, the whole idea of a band who had it all and let it slide into a tragic mire of dead end drug use and romantic underachievement while no one noticed should have been the subject of one of their greatest songs. And these two breathtaking shows just makes it more tragic. Suede have become their art. And that’s heartbreaking.
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