We Are the Pigs
Killing of a Flashboy
It Starts and Ends With You
I Don’t Know How to Reach You
The Living Dead
She’s in Fashion (acoustic)
Today was the big day. Kanye West arrived at Glastonbury with his own brand of Yeezus-y goodness, set to wow the crowds and berate anyone who tried to stop him. Probably. I didn’t go to his crappy set because I was too busy being blown away by a breathtaking performance from Suede on the John Peel Stage. Brett Anderson had the audience in the palm of his hand and the whole band were on top tight form from start to finish. I’d waited for 15 years to actually see them live and it was well worth the wait.
I first got into Suede in 2000 when my first proper girlfriend bought me three Suede albums for my birthday. I didn’t know much about them outside the then-recent hit singles “Electricity” and “She’s In Fashion”, but she was a huge fan and I thought I’d go along with it. After all she was slightly older than me and seemed to know a lot more about music (and life) than me. Whilst the relationship sadly didn’t last much longer, those three albums (the Bernard Butler ones, if you’re interested) stuck with me for a long time through to the end of my education and subsequent career.
So it was a thrilling moment when Suede took to the stage and burst into “Pantomime Horse” and then “Moving” from their eponymous debut album. The fact they were crowd-pleasers shows how much of an impact that debut has had over the years, given both were actually album tracks. Brett Anderson looked as fit as he did when they first appeared on the Glastonbury line-up some 22 years ago. The years have withered neither the angst in his eyes nor the emotional electricity of the performances. He owned the stage in a way so few performers manage.
The next song was “Trash”, a timeless slice of outsider pop rock. They absolutely nailed it, the crowd went ballistic and the band used it as a platform to launch into a string of huge hits (and noted b-side “Killing of a Flashboy”), sporadically taken from various points of their career. It was a sight to behold and has fortunately been captured beautifully by the BBC who have turned a intoxicating live performance into a cinematic work-of-art.
Not many songs featured that post-date 1996 album Coming Up. Of those that did, “She’s In Fashion” stood out as particularly poignant. In its altered form as an slow acoustic song in the encore, the focus shifted more to the lyrics and melody in a way that was hidden by the oddly aged production of the original album recording.
“Pale Snow” and “I Don’t Know How To Reach You”, both new songs yet to be released, hinted at a lot of promise for the future material and will have the Suede fans around the world buzzing with interest. The former is a slightly sparse song built around a repeating guitar riff by Richard Oakes, whilst the latter has a slightly fuller sound and a catchy chorus that sits it alongside the great work they put out some twenty years ago.
For all the excitement around hearing their new material, being floored by a stunning rendition of “Beautiful Ones” will doubtless be one of the lasting memories of this festival for me and the many 1000s inside the rammed tent. It was a long wait but well worth it. If only Kanye could have been there to see it.