Alexandra Palace, London, Saturday, March 30
Slavic strings crescendo, an electronic red curtain parts. Everyone at Ally Pally is here to revel in the fact that Suede aren’t just back on form but back at the forefront. ‘Bloodsports’, their not-really-awaited-at-all sixth album, isn’t just an impressive comeback successfully capturing their sizzling ’90s electricity, it’s one of the albums of the year.
No-one’s claiming they’re suddenly hotter than Peace or anything, but in a world where reunion bands clog up every festival slot like a plague of ex-Britpop locusts, Suede 2.0 are setting a standard against which everyone, from Pixies to Pulp, shall henceforth be judged. Reunions must now go hand in hand with creative reinvention. Lazy nostalgia will no longer be tolerated.
As bold, brazen and bursting with self-belief as they were at their early ’90s inception, Suede tonight set about demanding their rightful slice of 21st century relevance. With Brett bouncing on the monitors, throwing himself into the front row and bellowing “SING IIIIIT!” like the world’s pushiest karaoke host, they open with three new songs, the album’s first quarter in order. It’s a statement of flagrant nostalgia-annihilation that demands we either join the joyride on Brett’s ‘Barriers’ bus or walk home alone. ‘Snowblind’ and ‘It Starts And Ends With You’ are as sassy and seductive as post-Bernard Butler Suede have ever been.
After a rewarding run of ‘Animal Nitrate’, ‘Metal Mickey’ and ‘We Are The Pigs’, they ease the remaining new songs into the set by pairing each one with a like-minded old-timer, like rookie cops learning the ropes. So the arch ‘Sometimes I Feel I’ll Float Away’ is matched with a rare and euphoric ‘Sleeping Pills’; ‘Hit Me’ bleeds into its brother-with-another-cover ‘Filmstar’; ‘For The Strangers’ nuzzles up to the equally epic ‘Everything Will Flow’; and come the encore, the new ‘Saturday Night’, ‘Sabotage’, acts as prelude to the old ‘Saturday Night’, ‘Saturday Night’. A seamless weave.
They pack out the rest of the set with breathless rafts of classics – ‘Killing Of A Flashboy’, ‘The Wild Ones’, ‘Pantomime Horse’ and ‘The Drowners’ goes one mid-set rush – all carried along by Brett’s antics. At one point he’s on all fours headbutting the stage, at another he’s falling to the floor like his strings are cut. Confidence, clamour and crackling new sounds – Suede shows in 2013 are like having a Gatling gun loaded with suave pop fireworks fired point-blank into your face.