Sunday, 31 March 2013

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:

Friday, 29 March 2013

Suede Weekend Part 1: Nottingham Rock City Gig Review

Suede: Nottingham Rock City 28 March 2013

And so it continues, not since 2002 when following Suede to their Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham gigs, and 2005 when doing the same for the Tears with Bernard and Brett (hadn't see them with Suede) have I been caught up in such a weekend of excitement. Part one of the Suede fest (after building up my excitement by reviewing Bloodsports and then reliving the fan club gig from years ago here) was to head off to a nearly home gig at Nottingham Rock City, accompanied in a full car load of Mrs P (very excited) and Neil & Jayne (pretty excited but would be more so if it was Embrace..... perhaps soon who knows).

Having legged it from work early (I had schoolboy fever again, not being able to sleep the night before, so was at work for 7:00. a perfect excuse for sloping off early for a bank holiday weekend) got home, filled the kids (and ourselves) with McDonalds' to over excite them for Nanny on Baby sitting duty and we were off, 5:45ish, not bad. This was important given the gig had a 10:00 curfew. Now say it quietly but I quite like these curfew gigs, happy to be back home at a reasonable hour, in fact I am not averse to seats at gigs these days either. But say this to me in public and I will definitely claim otherwise.

The journey to Nottingham was a little fraught, firstly heading off down a seemingly brilliant shortcut which turned into a snow bound dirt track that we only just escaped, and then entering Nottingham, down the car park that is the A453. With my copilot Neil who had been a Student their 20 years ago guiding us to Rock City with such directions as left here, oh actually its a one way street / pedestrian area / where have these trams come from......

We arrived, though after the somber moment of Neil noting that 'they've knocked down the student union, I saw Suede there in 92 supported by the Auteurs' He always had the cooler gig prowess, but the Eurythmics and Howard Jones did me proud back in the day!

Legging into the venue, we caught the last song from the Temples, which was a shame as I found much to my amazement that not only did I like it, I knew it well, must have been a random purchase off the back of hearing it on the radio. If only I had the chance to see a full set from them some time in the future, Saturday say............

We turned our attention to drinks then, Rock City = Cans of Red Stripe / Tuborg , more than happy with that and wandered off to find a good vantage point, which was required for the smaller members of the party. Again home turf knowledge from Neil came in handy, finding a step for the girls to stand on, whilst we guarded the space in front from giants. Worked well, although the gig was punctuated with the odd (look he's stood right in front of me comments) from Mrs P.

A few of the standard tunes to warm up the crowd, Black Sabbath and the obligatory Sex Pistols and then.... They were onstage walking on to a calming piece of classical music, all dressed in very fashionable black attire. A lot more designer I would imagine these days to the early days.

So had their mid 40's calmed down the whirlwind that is Suede? opening galloping chords of Barriers burst over the crowd and Brett was Brett again, looking the fittest (in my eyes sporty, Mrs P's sexy) he has looked for years. Taring into the song backed with the sound of the band that would never be recaptured on record (and Suede have had plenty of criticism from audiophiles about the sound quality of Bloodsports). As a song, Barriers for me is a Suede classic, its the song going round and round in my head still, along with the slight ringing in my ears, its one of the best songs I have heard in years, but a number of the Bloodsports songs fit into that category.

Being a warm up gig, the audience was pretty much full of 30/40 something Suede fans, dressed in Black and singing through every word of Barriers, which was followed by new songs Snowblind and It starts and ends with you, same as the album and yes fantastic reception. Then a bit of a chord, a clue to decades gone by and they plunged into Animal Nitrate and Metal Mickey. The roof lifted visibly off Rock City. Those songs sound so vibrant 20 years on (I hate saying that) and everyone in the crowd wasn't just singing along, they were belting out the anthems that launched Britpop and wrestled music back from Grunge and the yanks back in 92.

Brett was in the crowd again, a matter of feet away, slightly different experience to 2 years ago when we were sat on the back row of the Albert Hall, in dire need of Binoculars (thanks seatwave). He seemed definitely to be enjoying himself, first time in Rock City which surprised me but 'Nice here innit, we'd loved to come back' was Brett's thought and the general vibe.

The rest of the gig passed by at an incredible rate, with Suedeisms galore (although not the microphone bottom wiggling antics of old) such as the well honed twirling of the microphone on long wire with just enough pace to land back in the hand with the split second timing for the verse (always looks cool see example right). Or looping round the head ready to lassoo any passing cattle before letting the microphone wrap Brett up in his wire, the end of Filmstar I think it was last night, stomping song ending in a whirl of microphone.

We had a brief moment, after 'sometimes I feel' where Brett announced 'thats the first time we have done that song live, probably the last', a comment on audience reaction? dunno but its a quieter song and we all loved it in our car (checked this out on the way home)

The highlight for me of the set was the inclusion of Killing of a flashboy. A throw away B-Side on the lead single for Dog Man Star, We are the Pigs. This is an absolutely brilliant song, again a big sing along. 'Its the same old show, he's a killer he's a flash boy Oh!' always brings back memories of the stick thin Richard Oakes swaying around, long hair flying at Wolverhampton Civic Hall on his first tour with the band, the young 17 year old (who I was suitably star struck to meet last year when touring with Artmagic - great band)

Wrapping up with Brett's challenge to 'sing along, you know this one, well you should do or why are you here?', we got a rousing Beautiful ones and they were gone to soak up the applause and return, without the Rhythm section for an encore of What are you not telling me, for the strangers and finally New Generation.

Which poses the question will this new album get Suede a new generation of followers? I remember vividly the thrill of singing this song after the gig in Wolverhampton back in 1994, thoroughly smitten by Suede - but can a new generation feel that way about a band, dressed in black halfway through their 5th decade on this planet!

To be honest, I don't care - Suede are my band, and seeing them in a venue like this is exactly what seeing a live band is all about for me 80 minutes of bliss.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Plan B in Birmingham Gig Review

Plan B - in his Sunday Best
Plan B: Birmingham NEC 8 February 2013.

You should never judge a book by its cover. When asking a client to the NEC for some entertaining I was bowled over when they picked Plan B. Now I love Plan B's soul album having fond memories of having it on my marathon training playlists couple of years ago, so I associate his uplifting soul with plodding round the streets of Sutton Coldfield, bright red with Blisters on my feet. But I would never have guessed Plan B was my clients cup of tea, and was incredibly pleasantly surprised.

With corporate hospitality on offer, and a cracking meal we missed the first support, but got out to see Labyrinth. I am not particularly aware of his work but he did put on a good show, and after cheese and biscuits we came back to be amazed.

So when Plan B entered the stage to a fanfare and backing films I was well prepared for a show, the one aspect of seeing a gig in a shed like the NEC, watching match stick performers is that a good show makes the size of venue worthwhile. The set was incredibly well utilised, it may sound trifling but a large box with projections became a pop corn tub and an inner city tower block. Very clever.

As footballers say, this was a game of 2 halves, first was what I presume a 60's soul review must have felt like, sharp suits a cover and the best of the defamation of Strickland banks, great songs leaving the crowd on a real high, the band, all sharply dressed ran off stage to be replaced by a beat box artist.

How to explain the beat box artist, very impressive talent, taking all the skills of that chap from the Police Academy films and using them to represent songs the audience recognises.

After an entertaining half time interval the Plan B and team were back, performing ill Manors with everyone dressed as 'urban youths' as the local news would have this. I hadn't heard this album before and wasn't expecting to love it quite as much as I did, this was one of the most emotional sets I have ever seen. Set to a back drop of pretty hard hitting films, including one where a youngster is goaded into killing someone, then vomiting, the songs were challenging.

The other aspect was the street theatre of Ill Manors (twice) with people from the audience 'hoodies' I believe they are called running on stage and looting the cardboard boxes which were TV sized. I loved this, it really brought the song to life and showed the show man Plan B is. In fact it was the first time in since the Eighties that I had seen a band do a song twice in a set, back to Transvision Vamp and I want you love at the Villa Leisure Centre.

So excusing the tongue in cheek references to Hoodies etc above, I got straight on ebay to buy his second album, perhaps a sign that not all lovers of the first CD loved the second when the got it home and popped it in the player. But music is a very personal and I find eclectic thing and Plan B is definitely one of my favourite artists to appear in the last few years.

and after Church, off to play footie in the park with his mates

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Swordfish Records

The new secret location
Swordfish Records

They've moved recently, after 17 years in one spot, one of the few remaining record shops in Birmingham has moved and is starting in a new location, tucked away and in a cheaper rent and rates back street it was a challenge to find.

Now I've got a soft spot for Swordfish, my mates Dad designed the logo (well that's what he told me many years ago) and it had a 8 foot tall Elvis outside the store for years, being a big Elvis fan it was obvious that I would  fan of the shop. They had lots of competition in the old days, I tended to flit from record shop to record shop on a Saturday, looking to eek out my spends across the most cd's 7' singles etc, so wasn't a die hard Swordfish man.

Over the last couple of years I have always liked the idea of shopping at Swordfish, but haven't found a huge amount that jumped off the shelves for me, falling out of love with CDs coupled with the lack of choice compared to the net and Buying from eBay meant sporadic purchases, but great new pressings of older classics, the Nuggets album on thick vinyl is a great case for why go to Swordfish. 

I bought Nuggets on record store day last year, which was a great day for Swordfish as Miles Hunt came along to sing some Wonderstuff tracks with Erica, and to sell his latest west midlands cover versions. I blogged it here (Recordstore day), it was a great event.

So what did I find today on eventually finding Swordfish. Challenging location to find is one thing, the shop inside and out looks brilliant, walls peppered with excellent record store memorabilia, small selections of lots of genres of vinyl, and the hint of a more social environment that the last place. Talking to the guys in the shop, they are very welcoming, and we discussed the new location etc. 

Turning to record store day, it seems amazing that Swordfish at the moment won't be having much if any input in stock, as they were not able to guarantee their status a couple of months back when the orders went in. Now this would be a real shame not to draw a crowd to the shop on Record Store day, the whole reason the day exists, and the stock being on sale being focused on Vinyl, it would look very good at the front of the shop.

I hope the public find Swordfish, having bought a lovely 180 gram version of the Velvet Underground album, every home should have one, the staff gave me a free tote bag on the proviso I carried it logo on the outside. I did obviously, and chuffed to be carrying an album, and having wandered round the block I was over the moon to direct a lost looking punter round the corner and into the shop. She looked like she could afford a few lp's so I was chuffed to do my bit today. 

The old shop with 8 foot Elvis

Saturday, 23 March 2013

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.

The Stranglers - Not just for Christmas

The Stranglers: Birmingham O2 Academy
16 March 2013

Reflecting back on last nights Stranglers gig, it was quite a rum affair, third time in 12 months I had seen them, including a set at V Festival employing the sun to come out with Always the Sun and Golden Brown which worked brilliantly.

Yesterday was a Christmas Pressie from my mate, me, Mrs P, quiz teamers and wife met up, after I had seen Annie at the Garrick with the kids and they had seen England thrashed by Wales in Walkabout, questionable who had the better afternoon.

Going to Rodizio Rico for a bite to eat was interesting, the Brazilian equivalent of a Harvester © Paul. Basically you get a bit too much from the salad bar then (if you set your coaster to green) every 20 seconds or so these nice Brazillians bring you a different slab of BBQd meat, which is very meatilicious.

Great, if somewhat filling meal and we were off to the O2, wandering in we got the usual waft of Hotdogs from the corner, which didn't sit well on top of the meat feast, neither I suppose did the fact that I had been to Cheltenham the day before, drinking Guinness from 11 until bed time, punctuated only by strong lager with tea, a hip flask then a night cap then bed.

So you get the idea, jaded, then on came The Stranglers, who provided a great set, there is no other band I know that lead so strongly with the Bass, which makes the songs I don't know pretty listenable compared to the normal bands fillers, mind you as the countdown (up) at the start of the gig showed. They have been around for a number of years, and years, and years.

Touching moment for Baz, No Cheese No Gig Warning
The expected stand out tracks were there (with the exception of all day and all of the night cover which got me into them in the first place) and when I see them pigeon holed as old punks, then listen to songs like Golden Brown and Always the Sun it shows it's lazy to do that.

A few things, it was the Feel It Live tour, and bassist Jean Jacques Burnell decided we should feel the bass which with booming feedback left the chap in front of me, already with ear plugs in, grab his ears in pain, it was also the 500th gig of 'the new guy' (Baz Warne) and he was presented with a framed montage which was a touching band dynamic, 13 years and still the new guy. Finally Jet Black came on for the second half of the Gig replacing his young understudy, he's a big man and loved by the audience.

A great evening, but now knackered, thank goodness for small children waking me up at the crack of dawn.

Setlist from Here

  1. Encore:
  2. Encore 2:
  3. Tank 

Suede Bloodsports Album Review

I love Suede, so this will no doubt be very biased.

I got into them whilst revising for my degree, probably the last time in my life that I got into loving things as Mrs P arrived around the same time in my life too (meaning that I love her too, not that she stopped me loving things, oh dear too much foot in mouth syndrome).

Its a funny relationship I have with Suede. Perhaps the closest I can put to it is the relationship I have with mates from school. Don't see them for years, then when I do I am transported back to being a kid and the fun that nostalgia brings.

So what happens with Suede for me, every release anticipated, purchased, filed away. Magazines read, concerts watched, even planning a weekend away to follow Suede to Manchester and Liverpool, the Internet scoured for live songs and rarities, fanzines bought and when offshoots arose, McAlmont & Butler, the Tears, Elastica, Artmagic, Bernard solo, Brett solo, I could be seen at the gigs lapping it up.

So when the new album came along, I was up for it definitely, tickets purchased for Ally Pally, and Rock City, preview radio interviews listened to, Barriers downloaded for free, sadly in the week Bowie decided to trump their approach, and lots of 4 star album reviews.

I got the Delux album eventually, bashed in the post, but have the physical product to hand. I have played it 7 times in quick succession. I can't remember the last time I did that to an album, and have no thoughts about slowing down. Bowie and John Grants albums haven't had this much air time, so I am going to run through the album in real time to catch my thoughts in listen number 8.

Barriers, very familiar, gallops along, that's what it feels like, Brett's voice unmistakable, lipstick mentioned with seconds, the way I loved you comes soon, jumping barriers - sounds like fans at an adoring gig.  The way, the way I loved you is such a cracking lyric. So this is already a Suede classic for me, then we get into singalong mode at the end, they can happily do this one as an opener next week.

Snow blind has the sorts of oooooo that I remember from coming up and head music, again classic Suede, guitar unmistakeable in the first 30 seconds. 'Find our keys on the kitchen table' just lyrics from the Suede almanac, glamourously ordinary. The first time I heard this one I did get excited, more brilliance from Suede. Brett's voice is cracking (ie great, not in a bad way) more sing along chorus time. Perfection.

It starts and ends with you. Those drums, fantastic, this had been on heavy rotation on 6 music and I love it, 'pinch myself but i don't wake up' & 'to much is not enough', great lyrics  It quickly replaced Barriers as my favourite new song by them. That is a blistering first 3 songs, bettered by and of the previous albums? Good question. Possibly not, I can listen to them time and time again.

Sabotage. Slowing down, drums Europe is my playground style. Again very Suede, again brilliant, am I just biased in this? I haven't heard songs as good as this IMHO for a long time. A mournful beautiful song this one, but still quicker than a ballad. First time I heard it, I thought it was 'and I will return' which is right.

For the Strangers. Lips like semaphore. Stings like aerosol in my eyes. Pretty good lyrics still run through. I have my lighter held aloft now for this one, I have put my arm round Claire and we are swaying side to side. We both love Suede. This is of course all in my head as I have the album on my iPod and am hiding from small children to do a review. So I still like this, but it's more a 4star rather than the 5 stars of the first four songs. I put my metaphorical lighter away for.

Hit me. And another powerfully drummed intro. Suede have always done powerful drums, ala she, elephant man. Then a beautiful, 'Come on and hit me with your majesty' and 'la la la la la'. Bretts voice is better than ever, no change in the last 20 years, maybe even fuller  Am i totally sure these aren't songs from the 90's just rerecorded as they really stand out. I am back onto 5 star ratings again.

Sometimes I feel I'll float away. So we are now coming down, slowing up after a blistering first half. This is definitely a Suede ballad. We are building to the chorus, and there it is, the name of the song, rich and strong. It's a softer more dreamy chorus than normal for Suede, a great song again, a bit different to their older ballads ala wild ones.

What are you not telling me? More ballad, quieter, piano and whistling effects, then where do the echoing backing harmonies come from. Never heard anything like this from Suede, I am waiting for that chorus to come again, a second run through of the triple backed song title, it sounds even better second time round. Straight in for a third cycle, and this is a very bare track and couple of minutes and gone.

Always, starts off very oriental. Quite fancy a Chinese, and again another slower ballady number. 'I set my clock for 7:30 everyday' Brett sings, chance would be a fine thing. Again I think that this is a lower song on the album, but hang on, the drums are dragging it back, pounding to a crescendo, topped by Brett's chorus, it's been saved, definitely worth waiting for the second half to arrive.

Faultlines ends the album, starts very Morricono. I like it. I am just listening, i cant say too much as a result. it's very Mexican for me, I would have this over the end of a spaghetti western any day, but then Suede have been very cinematic to end albums, rolling credits, no encore to Still life on the Dog Man Star tour is a case in point.

Do you want some more? Well of course you do, I tunes exclusives.

Dawn chorus. Not bad, mid paced, so far so good, not a Suede of old bside more a Suede a new morning tune - but as I love them, it's still a good tune, but a filler, a 3 star tune and I doubt it will get an airing live, but perhaps I am just harking back to a band that threw away corkers of the genius of scifi lullabies.

Howl. Again a 3 star, nice to have in the collection said the completist. Actually probably good to slow down to theses 2 songs, you can have too much of a good thing and it does point to just how good he album is to these severely biased eyes.

So finally I have an exclusive listen, due to the crapness of the company providing the physical product, I was sent the bonus tunes above (again) and also 'No Holding Back'. Its the Drums again, and a hurried sounding song. Good chorus but loads of noisy guitars over what sounds like Brett singing in a subway tunnel, yep second listen and he has definitely run back into the subway, I imagine its a Suede subway though, like the one from a video, cant remember which one, but where someone gets beaten up, maybe we are the pigs. I shall investigate later. Best of the 3 freebies (which actually I paid 99p each for and had to buy a very expensive boxset) so perhaps not freebies.

So what do I reckon to the album - a real cracker and one that will get a lot of listens to. Bring on the live experience.