SUEDE/SUBCIRCUS. THE ROUND HOUSE, LONDON
4 January 1997
Submitted by: Lesley Lam
THE ROUND HOUSE, LONDON
LOVE SUEDE and you might as well have a rogue gene, an alien implant, some mercury-tipped shrapnel lodged in your brain. There you are, shaking your bits to the hits, thinking you're over them at last, when they hit that switch and-bang! - send your head fountaining all over the walls again. Just look at the first 30 seconds tonight – the pink smoke, the hysterical scissor-stab of "She", Brett bursting onstage like an aneurysm... already it's a case of calm down, girl.
So, excuse my very indecent haste to get to the main attraction - there's young pretenders first. With their boy/girl-shaped question marks and strange erotic poignancy, SUBCIRCUS are an ideal Suede support. Intriguing, too. For a start, I'd love to leave singer PB and Brian Molko in a room together. But while Placebo crackle with static,
Subcircus are all languor, that clotted, latent energy that swells under "86'd" or "U Love U". Do they think they're doing us a favour by being up there, or something? Because, well, they are.
Better get back to Suede, though -because, after a couple of years without attention, Brett's turned feral. Whatever he's psycho for, it's more than sex and glue; whatever's ticking away in that stunningly ravaged head is going nuclear. "F*** me" has become "f*** you", "Come up and see me" mutated into "Give it to me NOW." If this is the yobbishness that's been detected in them recently, then sign me up for the Oasis-and-crowbar box set. OK, I blanche at the singalongs, but I suspect this attack is a blistering righteousness, a dare to see how much we can love them; it's "come and have a go if you think you're hard enough" rendered as an insatiable double entendre. Bar reaching into the audience and yanking out handfuls of viscera as proof of devotion, he settles for the most outrageous showmanship, holding the final, fragile line of "By The Sea" at one skinny arm's length as he balances on the edge of the stage soaking up the adoration like it's sunshine. He won't forget we nearly let him down. It's a glorious punishment.
All this would be a hollow triumph if they didn't sound so vital, the present tense once again clamped between their teeth, the future in their sights. Hearing "Animal Nitrate" is always going to hit the bells on the thrill-o-meter, but it's cheering that tonight's highlight is the lovely slo-mo "Picnic By The Motorway". They will not be denied. Or let's put it this way - a regal Neil Tennant glides on to join Brett on "Saturday Night" and sing an impeccably peppery "Rent". It's the sort of sighting that ranks alongside unicorns and griffins, yet still, still, the overwhelming memories are of Richard's guitar aftershocks shuddering through "New Generation", the sexy staccato stutter of "Killing Of A Flash Boy", Brett rolling his eyes for "Lost it to Bostik-yeah". Anthemic, sure, but without any of the hideous communal jollity that implies. Instead, this is a defiant blast for the damaged, a statement of furious intent. 1996 melts into 1997, and this band still demand absolute devotion.
Yeah, Suede are dead. Long live Suede.