Pop: Suicide make one last bid for attention

Suicide Highbury Garage, London

Leaving the house shrieking with manic glee at the sound of a band being booed off stage 20 years ago for 23 minutes straight, walking into a venue an hour later to watch them live could only disappoint. It doesn't help that Suicide's debut album, also two decades old, remains so inexplicable, so ominous. The primitive synth pulses of Martin Rev remain untouched in their strangeness, after so many years of that instrument's familiarity; the proto-rock'n'roll lyrics and shrieks of Alan Vega still sound unhinged.

Brought together to celebrate that album's re-release, playing in London for the first time in a decade, Suicide have somehow contrived to become popular. The small venue is packed, the crowd, most in their thirties, are here to praise the band, not bury them (as an axe-hurler at a Seventies gig once tried to). It doesn't seem healthy, somehow. Until the first note they strike literally raises the hair on my head, and they're back.

The first change to confront is Suicide's age. Where once their New York hip was effortless, now Alan Vega looks like a beatnik Fagin, in fingerless gloves, shades and beret, a little portly. Rev looks like Joey Ramone crossed with Herman Munster, a deliberate cartoon. It's cruelly relevant to rock whether its musicians fulfil their music's fantasies, and Suicide's alterations make the illusion waver.

More seriously, the passage of time has stripped them of the shock they rode in on. Some fans howl at the stage, as if auditioning for parts in the infamous, riot-ended Brussels show I'd been listening to. One seemed to think he was on the Bill Grundy show, circa 1976, hissing, "You're just a slut anyway, you're so fucking boring tonight" as he inched forward. Vega, the performance artist, threw mock-punches. But the smiles on stage couldn't be controlled. Suicide knew they were loved, and what could be more fatal than that?

It's to their credit that their reaction was to try to confront their audience with the present day, to get to them once more. One of their signature tunes, "Rocket USA", begins as some kind of classic-rock lodestone, its lyrics updated as Vega's hero Iggy Pop does to "Louie, Louie". But before long, Rev is trying to redetonate the old explosion, molesting a tribal beat, breaking it up, till the sense of comfort shakes apart, for just a moment.

The more they go on, the more the system they invented begins to reassert its grip. Sounds which, at a dance club, would be normal, in this context can still be made strange. By the time they take their last, brief encore, the song they think of as their greatest, "Frankie Teardrop", they've won a partial victory. "Frankie" cements it. A 10-minute epic of carnage on record, Vega compresses it to a single punch. "We're all Frankies!" he bellows, and leaves. In a way, it's all been pointless. Suicide know they can't repeat the impact of their past. It was good to see them, because they tried anyway.

Suicide continue at the Garage on Saturday and Sunday. Their album, `Suicide', is reissued by Blast First on Monday.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
News
Lizards, such as Iguanas (pictured), have a unique pattern of tissue growth
science
Extras
indybest
News
Anna Nicole Smith died of an accidental overdose in 2007
people
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tvReview: Bread-making skills of the Bake Off hopefuls put to the test
Extras
indybest
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    EYFS Teacher

    £120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education require an ex...

    Year 3 Teacher

    £120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Year 3 primary supply teacher ne...

    SEN Teacher

    £100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply special educational ne...

    Regional ESF Contract Manager

    £32500 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Birmingham: European Social Fund...

    Day In a Page

    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
    eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

    eBay's enduring appeal

    The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

    Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

    Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
    Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

    Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

    After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
    Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

    Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

    After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
    Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

    Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

    Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
    7 best quadcopters and drones

    Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

    From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home