On this day in history 1: Suede Fanclub Gig in Manchester
Unfeasibly good value ticket at a fiver
On this day in 1999: I had been in the Suede fan club for some time. Getting 4 magazines a year for a tenner was fine, plus the other stuff, the odd cd etc but the best bit about the fan club for most was the fan club gigs. To date I had not ventured to these as they were usually in London mid week and, being a worker in Brum and not particularly adventurous, this put them out of my range. So as a result, I had to read on jealously in the music press or heaven forbid the next fanzine for what I had missed for my £10. This was until 1999 when they ventured out of the capital to play a gig on a Tuesday night at Manchester Student Union. This was good for a couple of reasons - I new where Manchester Student Union was (Mrs P and I had spent our first night together in the academy next door some 7 years earlier) and with her loving Suede we could definitely go to this. To be fair I did have to buy the ticket for £5 but it was worth it. I seem to recall it taking a while to get up there, I used to go up the A roads for some reason, probably a legacy of my old mini days, but we got there to hang around for not to long before the band came on. They came on to what has become, probably through them, one of my favourite albums, certainly the 6 years old Mr P had no recollection of god saving the queen, and her fascist regime. But Never Mind The Bollocks got us in the mood for Suede. The five familiar men walked on the stage. But this was to be a show premiering the new stuff, Head Music was about to be unleashed on us. "Can't Get Enough" is up first. This is a distant cousin of my favourite "She", the same choppy guitar and the brilliant whoo-hoo vocals.
"Savoir Faire" up next, a relaxing Suede song, not like what had passed before. A love song maybe.
"Electricity" the lead single, with it's crackling video and quality "It's bigger than the universe" lyrics has us waving arms and shouting along.
"Everything Will Flow" slows us back down, it is to become a real favourite in future years . It glides. Followed by "Indian Strings" lighters aloft.
A couple of older songs "The Sound Of The Streets" and "Together" Brett throws tambourines, water bottles, lighted cigarettes out at the crowd, and teasingly runs his fingers across the outstretched hands of the crowd.
"He's Gone" sounds great. A lament to a long lost love. Huge and tiny at the same time.
"Elephant Man" is the oddest song from Suede, a primal chant, well shout along.
"Starcrazy", not one of my faves from Coming Up, "Europe Is Our Playground lovely Then the band leave the stage, with Brett there, on a stool, ready to do "Crack in the Union Jack"well just Brett and a guitar and Neil.
Before starting the song though, the shy Anderson says "I can play an F, a D, and a G.
The encore is She, which is just brilliant and leaves me ready for the journey home.
Hours of fun went into this scrap book
The joy of having a scrap book also brings the time to life, not sure who said this but it would have been one of the Music press, probably Melody Maker, although I would check other magazines for Suede, Pulp and others.
Day two and Manchester brings more of the same: the same songs (nine new ones, three recentish B sides and two tracks from Coming up.) the same fervour and the same flooded beauty. Only like I said, it's more of the same. first because Manchester Universitys debating hall is to Glasgow's Garage what the new Richard 'James Dean Bradfield' Oakes is to the old one; about three times as big. Ahem. And, secondly, because Brett seems to have cramped right through his pre-gig bit tonight, and takes to the stage like a snotier John Lydon, his grinning charisma backed up by the heart of Nick Drake, the animal sneer of David Bowie and all the frantic footwork of Rudolf Nureyev on an E. Which makes the new Neil-written, dumb as f*** Elephant Man perfect for a gig like tonight's, in all it's ridiculous, fall-style, yob bush, ranting, "Auf weirder sheen Pet" on crack get this for lo fi experimentation Blur glory. Once again, Star Crazy and Together do things to the roof it's builders never Egan to plan for, and the opening missile storm of 'can't get enough', 'Savoir fairer' and 'Electricity' flash fries the joint with probably the best 10 minutes of live performance Suede have ever played Brett lashing out over his microphone stand with the snarling spite of a lion clawing at its cage, maniacally hopping up and down on his monitors like Tigger on a trampoline. The stage, it must be said, is all his. It just feels like I'm at home onstage these days. Brett will tell us back n his dressing room after the show. Like I'm sitting in my front room actually I feel so relaxed it's ridiculous! I don't have any fear of being in front thousands of people at all now. I think back on when we fist started and I used to shit myself, but I couldn't give a flying f*** now! I could almost lie down onstage and take a quick nap now! Actually I think I might atthe next show! Hardly. Though, having said that, while tonights show packs more punch than Lennox Lewis let loose on that American judge, it is Suedes more tender moments which hit the hardest. The sweeping 'Hes gone' is already a fan base legend, after it's Reading debut in 97. Tonight, it's feminine sympathies and aching melancholy shivers us senseless, a frozen reminder of just how and why Suede changed everything 7 years ago and look so certain to do so again. 'Down' with its hypnotic measure and smothering swathes of guitar, is almost as precious, all wasted ebb and flow and Brett's gentle 'you draw the blinds and blow your mid away' tucking us in tight. And an especially stirring 'Everything will flow' - a classic Suede slow dance, not entirely unlike 'Wild ones' cherries the cake, a priceless reminder of how Suede can say more with one wailed 'Aaoowowowowow' than most bands say across an entire lyric sheet. So like Pantomime Horse, The Big Time and Sleeping Pills before them these are the sad songs and they'll always mean the most. Intimacy's a rare commodity these days, but Suede more than ever - have the gift of making a hurricane sound personal. So you barely even notice when the others (bar Neil) slip off to allow Brett to perform a soloish 'Crack in the Union Jack' all hard struck acoustic guitar and softly political murmurs.