Suede Live in Sheffield review by Rob Johnson.

Suede has never been a band to rest on their laurels. Since reforming in 2010, they have gone from strength to strength culminating in 2022’s excellent Autofiction. This, coupled with the fact that the band hadn’t played in Sheffield since appearing at the Octagon in 1996, ensured that expectations were high before their sold-out gig at the Sheffield Academy in a city still covered in snow from the night before. Luckily, Brett Anderson and co. more than met expectations. 

The London band kick off with ‘Turn Off Your Brain and Yell’, the closing track from Autofiction, before a triumphant ‘Personality Disorder’ – the latter song already greeted like an old friend by the rapturous South Yorkshire crowd. Then follows a heady mix of old classics beginning with ‘The Drowners’ before guitarist Richard Oakes begins the unmistakable opening riff to ‘Animal Nitrate’. It speaks to the power of Suede’s earlier work that the latter song still sounds unstoppable even all these years later. ‘Trash’ follows and inspires the first big singalong of the evening before the scuzz and snarl of ‘We Are the Pigs’ provides the first taste of Suede’s beloved second album Dog Man Star. It was this record that got me into Suede in the first place so to hear those same songs played live with such passion and grit is truly something special. 

A moment please for Brett Anderson. At this stage of a band’s career, all that really matters is that the fire still burns, and the music still matters. Happily, Anderson throws everything into performing, bounding around the stage with his trademark floppy fringe following behind him. His interactions with the crowd are short but impassioned and it is clear that this music still means something to both audience and performer. 

‘I Don’t Know How to Reach You’ slows things down and serves as the sole representative of Suede’s underrated 2016 album Night Thoughts before ‘She Still Leads Me On’ and its massive chorus has everyone jumping again. The latter song is proof positive that this is a band that still has plenty to offer. This is far from a nostalgia exercise. 

A truly special moment follows as Brett leads the crowd in an acoustic version of Dog Man Star favourite ‘The Wild Ones’ – imploring the crowd not to talk over the music. Sheffield does as it’s told. The first part of the set closes with an incredible rendition of ‘So Young’ before the unmistakable chugging riff of ‘Metal Mickey’ brings the house down. 

The band return to the stage with the announcement that Sheffield will be treated to an extra song for ‘being good’. Sure enough ‘New Generation’ and its glam rock tales of hedonism, pills and poison is given its first run out of the tour and Suede still have one ace left up their sleeve. 

The Britpop era was all about iconic guitarists: Graham Coxon, Johnny Greenwood, Steve Craddock etc. Many people would also add original Suede guitarist Bernard Butler to that list, but as the breath-taking opening riff to ‘The Beautiful Ones’ fills Sheffield Academy from the floor to the rafters, it is clear that Butler’s replacement Richard Oakes deserves to be mentioned alongside the other legendary ‘90s guitarists of the indie scene. This 100mph version of the song provides a fitting end to a breathless evening. 19 songs. 2000 people. One magnificent band. Now, don’t leave it another 27 years to return to Sheffield next time, Brett. 

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