By simononly under a Creative Commons licence
It's been far too long since we've had the opportunity to to Suede live so, all these years later, at the first of two warm up gigs for Wednesday's Royal Albert Hall show, expectations are running suitably high.
The Sex Pistols' Bodies fades away from the PA and Brett Anderson and the boys take to the stage to a rapturous reception, launching into an incredible opening salvo of She, Trash, Film Star and Animal Nitrate.
The band have barely aged a day. They look almost exactly as we remember them. Neil Codling stands to one flank, impossible cheekbones and casual sense of cool; Richard Oakes to the other, while Mat Osman slouches elegantly at Simon Gilbert's shoulder. Brett stalks the space between them, his fringe shagging in his eyes. One moment he's centre-stage; the next he's straining out over the barrier into the adoring crowd, not just lapping up their affection but returning it. When he later tries to thank the crowd, he's so overcome by emotion he can barely find the words to express his gratitude.
As Killing of a Flash Boy puts it, it is indeed the same old show, only there's nothing tired about it. The gig never feels like it is about nostalgia or a yearning for lost youth. Suede were always more than just a band on stage. They project a sense that they are doing this as much for us as for themselves and they still do. They conduct themselves like the last gang in town but welcome us like their newest member.
We'd forgotten just how powerful Suede are live. Beneath those terylene shirts lies unexpected muscle. The hit-heavy set is dispatched with an energy and force that would put most punk bands to shame. The Living Dead and the Asphalt World slow the pace a little, allowing the band and crowd to catch their breath, before So Young and Metal Mickey crank things right back up.
Set closer, Beautiful Ones, sounds less like a statement and more like a war cry; "here they come, the beautiful ones... shaking their bits to the hits... shaking their meat to the beat..." It's a standard the crowd rallies around and the feeling lifts the show above mere joyous spectacle and turns it into something more - a shared moment uniting the band with their fans. It's what marked Suede out as something extraordinary all those years ago and it's why they're still so special now.
By the time they encore, aptly enough, with Saturday Night our expectations have been more than exceeded. Turns out that it wasn't just some fleeting teenage crush we felt back in the day, we're still crazily in love with Suede.
By Enna Cooper