NEARER MY GOD TO THEE - SUEDE, USHER HALL
It starts, and ends, with Suede.
The ebb and flow of my life.
The highs and the lows.
From the moment they arrived.
The soundtrack to coal black mornings and afternoons with the blinds drawn.
And here they are, decades after they crashed into my life, back on the same stage where I saw them on the “Dog Man Star” tour.
Everything has changed.
I’ve been broken, battered and bruised in the years in between.
I’ve loved and I’ve lost.
I’ve gone from a theist to an atheist.
God has died.
But Suede, Suede have remained.
In the background, in the foreground, in my heart.
Nothing has changed.
They remain a furious, ferocious, frantic, fucking incredible live band. Brett stalking the stage, dressed in black, like a panther. Possessed of a raw and potent sexuality, tempered, but only just, by his joy at being on stage…a grin wider than the Forth spread across his face all night. Simon Gilbert still the best drummer of his generation. Matt Osman still a man who seems to be both present and omnipresent, a near spiritual being. Richard Oakes playing like the devil…forget the other contenders, he really is better than all of them. And then there is Neil Codling, who is, and there really is no debate here, the very definition of cool…I know, that’s so trite, but it is also true.
This is an anniversary tour for “Coming Up” which is better than almost any other album released by any British band in the nineties but which, possibly, isn’t even the best album that Suede released in the nineties…make of that what you will. The songs sound as thrilling and arousing tonight as they did the first time I heard them. What more is there to say? Nobody needs a track by track rundown…you don’t read what I write for that.
What more is there to say.
Once “Coming Up” has been played with such riotous fury that it lies bloodied on the floor of the hall, they return to play a near hour long encore. This is a greatest hits set. Except it is made up of b-sides, never before played live songs, acoustic numbers, album tracks, later period tracks and, sure, a couple of the “biggies”…the crowd greet every one of these songs as if they were the last songs they would ever want to hear. I can’t think of another band who could play a set like this and receive the same reception. But this is the magic of Suede, the sheer number of truly great songs, the never ending production line of demented anthems or, more accurately, anthems for the demented.
Stepping out into the freezingly cold Edinburgh night, the sky free from cloud, stars sparkling and winking, I find myself thinking about the role that Suede have played in my life for almost thirty years; they have soundtracked lust filled embraces, tear soaked farewells, bereavements, the arrival of new life, hopes and dreams. The words, the melodies, the art and the heart of them. They are, and I care not about the inevitable accusations of hyperbole, precious.
Where once I placed my faith in a carefully constructed myth of an invisible God, now I give the same praise and thanks to these new Gods.