Brett Anderson fronts Suede at The Fillmore Silver Spring on Nov. 18, 2022. (Photos by Katherine Gaines; Words by Mickey McCarter)
“There is nothing else than now. There is neither yesterday, certainly, nor is there any tomorrow. How old must you be before you know that?” — Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls
Brett Anderson of Suede marched to the center of stage at The Fillmore Silver Spring recently, and he began grooving. His voice was strong — he sounded great! He was very much alive, vital, and he poured his body and soul into “Turn Off Your Brain and Yell,” a new song from Suede’s 2022 album, Autofiction (released by BMG at the very end of summer).
I like to think that Hemingway quote above would resonate with Brett. He and his band could have chosen to lean on an era defined by his artistic output. Suede, or The London Suede as the UK outfit are known in the United States, were a leading band of Britpop, a ’90s-specific genre of music that defined English rock and colored the attitude of young people who wanted something that was very much *theirs.*
But that didn’t matter to Brett and his talented bandmates — bassist Mat Osman, guitarist Richard Oakes, drummer Simon Gilbert, and guitarist/ keyboardist Neil Codling. On Nov. 18, at The Fillmore Silver Spring, they were there to live, not to reminisce, and certainly not to reflect on their past art. Suede came with all of the power of nowness, and they were glorious.
The band rampaged through “Turn Off Your Brain and Yell” in a pure fit of rock and roll. Next, they presented “Personality Disorder,” another from the new record. Brett descended to the rail and practically into the audience at stage left and gave a personal serenade to a group of clamoring admirers.
Stream “Personality Disorder” by Suede on YouTube:
There was electricity in the air, and the very nearly full house was absorbing it like a sponge. Brett and company had charisma to spare, and everyone was hanging on his every word. So when he followed the new songs with old favorites — “The Drowners” and “Animal Nitrate” from Suede’s self-titled debut record (1993) — the audience were ready to sing along with full-hearted gusto.
Suede continued the show with plenty of style and swagger, rocking through songs such as “Trash” from third album Coming Up (1996) and We Are The Pigs from second album Dog Man Star (1994). The band recognized 1999’s Head Music and 2013’s very good Bloodsports with one selection each — “Can’t Get Enough” and “It Starts and Ends with You,” respectively.
But as the show roared to the finish line, the gents pressed pause in the set and vacated the stage, leaving Brett solo for “The Wild Ones,” also from Dog Man Star. Even sitting alone, playing acoustic, Brett radiated an intense energy. He’s simply a very magnetic individual, and his magnetism and timber were truly reminiscent of David Bowie, a long-acknowledged influence on the band’s DNA.
Watch Suede perform “The Wild Ones” live on Later with Jools Holland back in 1994 on YouTube:
In closing the show, Suede performed fan-favorite “Metal Mickey” from their debut record and Coming Up’s “The Beautiful Ones.” But despite the flashback tunes, Suede was very much all about now. There was a fully realized moment here — an opportunity for a band like Suede. And Suede saw the need and stepped into the moment. Suede brought *life* to The Fillmore Silver Spring, and their performance will undoubtedly remain heralded as one of the best of the year.
As amazing as Suede were, they also were shrewd in that this 2022 USA Tour was a double bill with their friends Manic Street Preachers. The Manics also came to rock the night away, although they eschewed their latest album, the UK No. 1 hit The Ultra Vivid Lament.
The Manics favored their debut record, 1992’s Generation Terrorists, and other ’90s output, such as 1998’s This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours. This meant that the Manics presented some of their best-loved songs in a punchy setlist that included an early performance of “Everything Must Go” from the 1996 album of the same name and a closing rendition of “A Design for Life” from the same record.
Frontman James Dean Bradfield was a sturdy and assured presence and his expressive and soulful voice, combined with the Manic’s resplendent hard rock melodies, was completely uplifting.
Watch the official music video for “Everything Must Go” by Manic Street Preachers on YouTube:
In a first-half surprise, the Manic Street Preachers covered “Suicide Is Painless (Theme From MASH).” Fans of the band know the Manics released their cover of the song as a single in 1992. James’ tenor voice fit the number well, and the Manics’ rock band expansiveness filled out the sound of the song quite effectively.
Speaking of rock bands, Manics bassist Nicky Wire remains a true rock and roll spirit, and it was a true pleasure to see him do a cool strut on songs like “Slash ‘n’ Burn” from Generation Terrorists. The Manics still pack a huge dose of glam in everything they do, and Nicky’s splendid bass was a key component of that sound alongside James’ terrific guitar playing.
All in all this was a show not to be missed. Sadly, Suede and the Manics wrapped their current tour in Canada last night. But we hope that Suede especially internalizes this experience to fuel the fire for future escapades and that we might see them again soon. We Americans can certainly use the fresh air of classic British rock to give us some musical life once in a while.
Here are some photos of Suede (aka The London Suede) performing at The Fillmore Silver Spring on Nov. 18, 2022. All pictures copyright and courtesy of Katherine Gaines.
And here are some photos of the Manic Street Preachers performing at The Fillmore Silver Spring on Nov. 18, 2022. All pictures copyright and courtesy of Katherine Gaines.