Suede, Bush Hall, London


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The Independent Culture

Band reformations are a depressing lottery. They're rarely done for the purest of reasons: the money from a reunion tour has got to be pretty tempting for people whose creative profitability is years over. Couple that with the fact that pop stars in their 40s are rarely as vigorous as in their 20s, and it's all too easy for a group to lose sight of what it was that made them special in the first place.

When it's a band of Suede's stature, it's impossible not to feel a little anxiety, especially in light of the way they ended up: their slow, miserable slide into obsolescence.

There was no need for the worry; even with nowhere to hide at an intimate show in one of London's smallest venues, they shimmer with all their old greatness. They ooze on to stage, all in black of course, and from that moment on it's a nostalgic blitzkrieg, frontman Brett Anderson shimmying lugubriously like the last 15 years simply hadn't happened.

The set is a fanboy's dream – made almost entirely up of material from their first three albums. Stone-cold classics, of which this band has an vast amount, mingle with rarities like 'The Killing Of A Flash Boy', and they play them all like it's their last show on earth.

Suede is a band with a glorious oeuvre and in this cosy atmosphere, even the less well-known songs are greeted with something approaching religious ecstasy. Anderson gyrates throughout, his shirt mysteriously unbuttoning itself as the night progresses. He's still rake-thin, ribs protruding from a hairless chest. Astonishingly, after all he's done to himself, he still sings with that magical octave slide, in a way a drug-grizzled man in his mid-40s absolutely shouldn't.

One small caveat: Bernard Butler, sadly though not unexpectedly, is not involved. He's back in the fold – everyone's talking to one another, but tonight's line-up is Coming Up-era Suede, who are still a mighty fine proposition.