Suede weekend Part 2: Ally Pally in London Gig Review
Animal Nitrate - blistering
Suede at Ally Pally: 30 March 2013 Another 48 hours and the anticipation was building, for Suede at Ally Pally, kids dropped off at Grandparents, shopping trip to Bicester (torture) completed and we arrived bright and early for what could become a legendary gig for Suede. This was a perfect venue, as arriving when we did there was a perfect view of a grey chilly London spreading out across the horizon, coupled with a crumbling palace, trying to recapture its former glories behind us.
Settling into the Ally Pally pub, for tea, there was an interesting mixture of clientele, part Suede devotees, part wedding party, all mingled happily as the soundtrack for the afternoon was 90's indie which helped the Tuborg/Amstel and Burger go down. Waiting in anticipation, we got to see the inner workings of gig preparation, plus Nige &Emma appeared. This had numerous briefings for security staff and the lighting up of a Batman style symbol, drawing Suede to their performance and fan base.
Bat Sign Emergency
Not able to hold back my excitement, I went in ready to watch Temples & Spector, great support act calibre for the gig, and was blown away by the innards of Ally Pally, massive Victorian train station looking, with huge area for congregating and a massive show space, stage on end, massive bar and tiny toilets the other (a recipe for disaster which led to girls in tears pleading to go into the gents with jobsworths turning them away). In the entrance hall, I got my obligatory bit of merchandise, signed album, to go with all the other versions, living up to the Physical Product moniker, but coming with free tour brochure it was worth it. Whilst queuing to pay (grumbling at he people indecisively choosing Tshirts or whipping out credit cards to pay, wondering whether anyone would be buying a Suede scented candle) I heard some pleasant lounge music in the back ground, which after a few seconds I recognised to be Suede covers, and a few more seconds to realise it was a live band. So a few more minutes were spent listening to Trash, the Beautiful ones and others playing in a completely unrecognisable genre, nice touch. The Nat Franklin Trio (although there are 4 of them!)
First band up, the Temples, pretty good, saw the whole set this time which lived up to the final song from Thursday. They seemed suitably impressed to be playing to a crowd the size that had assembled and the dreamy guitar pop of Shelter Song again was particularly good. Spector again a great band who I didn't know much about, Nige & kids rate them though, and they would not have looked amiss in the Goid Mixer in Camden back in the 90's playing pool with Graham Coxon & Matthew Everitt from Menswear. Most impressive element was the banter from lead singer Frederick Macpherson who part Jarvis, part the bloke from Franz Ferdinand interspersed every song with a few quips, and will have won a few fans (Mrs P included) from the Britpop crowd particularly with the line -
'The headliners were a bit worried about having us support them, but they were easily Suede (sic)'- take a bow son, that was nicely done.
With Suede looming, beer refreshed and we headed to the front. Right hand side, only to spot Nige emerging from the middle grumbling about having to give up a good spot because Emma had gone to the loo. We got a great spot though, enhanced by Mrs P's whirling and twisting later for the Suede songs, clearing a circle round us.
Again, we waited through Black Sabbath, Sex Pistols, a bit of classical music and on strolled the boys, Brett decked out in video camera spotting white shirt much to Mrs P's disgust. The first 3 tracks from Bloodsports kicked off the set, again sounding like classic Suede from the 90's. Then into actual classics, the gig back set by massive backdrops of the striking artwork from the Suede albums and singles, looking back they did a good job of that too in hindsight, never really thought about it too much in the past.
Set list the same running order more or less as Rock City but interspersed with a number of additional tunes, the first of these being Sleeping Pills from debut album (20 years old debut album) Suede. This was one of the songs on the CD that was on heavy rotation in my room whilst revising for my degree, although I would often be found singing 'you're a pink tooth brush, I'm a blue tooth brush' rather than 'Water sign, air sign', but I was young and innocent back then. Easily one of my favourite gigs, amazing location, blistering set, voice nearly gone this morning (always a good sign) and at the end a trip back to Brum in the dead of night (having parked in a good location for a change) trying desperately not to nod off and having the joys of a deserted service station at the dead of night.
Looking back at the gig it's easy to see why it stood out, a balance of Suede classics that the crowd know and love, coupled with a blistering new album that the band want to play and the fans want to hear, that deliver. Something we hadn't had for a long time, maybe since the days when Coming Up was released.
Makes me wonder what would the legacy of indie music have been like if Suede had released Bloodsports in 1997, on the back of the commercial Coming Up? With a body of work of Suede, Dog Man Star, Coming Up &Bloodsports, in the midst of Britpop, how would the world be comparing Blur, Oasis and Pulp to Suede? Quite differently I think. Set List: