Suede and Manic Street Preachers at Eden Sessions: Indie giants prove they're even better 30 years on

Brett Anderson won over many new Suede fans at their Eden Sessions show
-Credit: (Image: Ben Foster / Eden Project)

It was a game of two halves at the Eden Sessions last night as England went head to head with Wales and, as opposed to the country's lacklustre football team, came away as tournament winners.

It's unfair to pitch the double header of Suede and the Manic Street Preachers as rivals as they're friends and their combined tour, when they revolve headline slots, has been a huge success - a chance for both bands to pick the best of the hits and fan favourites in tight one-and-a-bit hour sets.

It was only fair that Suede headlined at their first Eden Project show. The Manics have played there before and there was also a Hall for Cornwall gig in Truro a few years ago. However, you have to go back to 1999 for when Brett and co last graced Kernow with their presence - a less than sold-out show at the Cornwall Coliseum within spitting distance of Eden, after their crown had slipped somewhat.

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The band of today is a very different beast, but more on Suede in a bit. The Manics came on at an unfashionably early 7.25pm but to an already rammed Eden bowl such is the love for the Blackwood boys. No meandering, straight into the stately Motorcycle Emptiness and singalong joy for the masses with the likes of From Despair To Where, You Stole The Sun From My Heart, Your Love Alone Is Not Enough (with The Anchoress on added vocals), La Tristesse Durera and You Love Us among the 17-song set.

Fans were kept happy with the likes of To Repel Ghosts from the unfairly maligned Lifeblood album, Elvis Impersonator: Blackpool Pier and an epic No Surface All Feeling. If a reminder was needed of why so many of us fell for the band in the first place, A Design For Life still sounds like the ultimate working class anthem and has lost none of its power in the ensuing 28 years, while If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next is a perfect meld of their musical passion and scabrous poetic force.

James Dean Bradfield of the Manics during the band's second Eden Sessions appearance
James Dean Bradfield of the Manics during the band's second Eden Sessions appearance -Credit:Ben Foster / Eden Project

No faulting the Manics but they felt workmanlike compared to what came next. Suede are on a roll at the moment. Autofiction, 2022's brilliantly raw album, has reignited the band and they have genuinely become one of the best live acts of recent years.

It's largely down to Brett Anderson, who has become one of the great frontmen by stealth. It appears a period of heavy drug use in your youth, replaced by healthy midlife running is the way to go. I've dabbled in both - though a lot less heavy in both departments - but at two years younger than him, I'd give my last pair of skintight trousers to look that good. Brett definitely has a portrait in the attic.

He knows how to work a crowd too. From the moment he sashayed on stage for the pummelling Turn Off Your Brain And Yell he was shouting and beckoning at the audience to go for it and the returning furious love was palpable. Suede are the kind of band who demand adoration from their fans and get it back in spades.

Suede were on fire at the Eden Sessions
Suede were on fire at the Eden Sessions -Credit:Lee Trewhela

It was obvious we were in for something special as they roared through three of their best songs right at the beginning of their set - Trash, Animal Nitrate, The Drowners - with a punked-up Brett making an early appearance in the melee. They can do affecting drama (Pantomime Horse, a beautiful The 2 Of Us) and they can do belligerent (the new Antidepressants, Shadow Self and Personality Disorder from the latest album) and both are equally intoxicating.

Highlights included early B-side and fan favourite To The Birds and She Still Leads Me On, a song for Brett's late mother which is greeted as affectionately as the big hits like Filmstar. It came out around the time my own mum died and proved to be a musical salve during that time. Last year I saw Suede play it live and it made me cry, last night it felt jubilant - an anthem for all the wonderful dead matriarchs.

It doesn't get any better than the final trio of So Young, Metal Mickey and Beautiful Ones - pure pop with a scuzzed-up heart. Suede are often unfairly overlooked among the bands they emerged alongside - Oasis, Blur and Pulp for example - but they are their equals and, in truth, better than most of them.

In 22 years of Eden Sessions, Suede's set was definitely up there with the most memorable for energy and mesmerising theatrical might. Did I tell you how good Brett looks?