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“It doesn’t matter how many times they grind us down!” roars Brett Anderson in a shouted-word addendum to glam-banging outsider anthem Trash, milling his winklepicker into the stage as if aggressively extinguishing a cigarette. A 25th anniversary celebration of Suede’s 1996 classic Coming Up – an album front-loaded with three Top 10 singles – was always liable to ignite quickly. And yet the Edinburgh audience still seem momentarily stunned by the ferocity with which the band and their thin streak of 54-year-old frontman assault their senses.
Reunited 11 years now, nearly as long they lasted first time around from 1989 to 2003, the Londoners are overdue a nostalgia trip after three strong new albums since 2013. How better, following the pandemic’s dispiriting long pause, than with the record that propelled Suede to the stars just when they looked chucked on the dump? Their first album with miraculous teenage guitarist Richard Oakes (replacement for the seemingly irreplaceable Bernard Butler), Coming Up threw pop muscle behind Anderson’s sinuous songwriting and decadent epicene image, helping mixed-up small-town boys and girls everywhere suddenly feel like they belonged.
Considering the dark turn Anderson’s life took once Britpop turned sour, it’s a wonder he’s alive today, much less still squeezing into a black shirt that looks like it buttons on the left, flopping a full head of foppish dark hair around and effortlessly vaulting the high notes in Filmstar. During Beautiful Ones, he towers leggily on a monitor leading the crowd in a chorus of extended la la la-ing. Come Saturday Night, Anderson’s crouched at the stage edge, shrilly crooning a ballad of bittersweet nocturnal thrills wrapped in a coat of chilly synth strings.
Coming Up’s slight 42 minutes are extended with a couple of contemporaneous B-sides – a disarming off-mic acoustic rendition of Another No One sung solo by Anderson in a swirl of dry ice, and the first ever live performance of Have You Ever Been This Low? A subsequent energetic root through Suede’s repertoire new and old starts with Snowblind and Outsiders and ends with a thrilling run of So Young, Animal Nitrate and New Generation. The all-action Anderson dramatically whirls his microphone near the head of unreasonably calm keyboardist Neil Codling one minute, crumples into a ball on the floor the next. Never knowingly understated, and always irresistible.