Thunder rolls over Manchester’s Albert Hall from behind a sky sized silver-screen. The whirring thrashes and builds until the sounds of post-millennial paranoia are greeted with silence. The floor-to-ceiling sheet is finally filled with oceanic endlessness, and from behind the separation an incredible otherness cuts through the waves in the form of the unmistakable voice of Brett Anderson – his wiry frame hidden behind Roger Sargent’s visual accompaniment to the London born pentad’s seventh sonic venture, ‘Night Thoughts’. Although obscured behind a screen, the 48-year-old frontman breaths drama and immediacy into the performance – mirroring the intensity of the album that is performed seamlessly and in full against Sargent’s exploration of obsession, guilt and regret through the disjointed memories of a broken family. It would be easy to dismiss the idea of this audio-visual experience as self-indulgent or pretentious, but as the most transcendental four minutes of the two hour long set was found in ‘Outsiders’ marriage of sky-scraping falsetto and visions of underwater passion, it’s hard to call the whole experience anything other than an incredibly moving artistic victory.

The lights dim, and while the audience are still trying to process the intensity of the events that unfolded on screen, the thud of Dog Man Star’s ‘Introducing the Band’ intensifies and the sheet is raised revealing a band unhinged. If the first half of the evening served the cinematic scope of Suede’s most recent release, the second half is definitely for the audience. Anderson not only entices the crowd into Suede’s world, but manages to turn the experience into something spiritual as he takes every opportunity to offer himself to the devoted. Whether it means wading his way through the audience to the soundtrack of a flawless rendition of ‘Beautiful Ones’, or allowing the hair dyed and tasteless a moment of catharsis as he gives them a voice when it comes to a crowd-driven performance of ‘Trash’, Anderson spends the majority of the set off stage and connected. The entire performance is constant and full of life – touching on every chaotic energy that has been explored within the glam-grunge band’s career.

Suede’s wide-view and all-encompassing performance speaks to the fearless, untouchable purpose that they have once again accessed – proving their recent return to be so much more than a glorification of the past. Addressing the room, Anderson thanks an audience he describes as being “full of passion and the joys of youth”, but I don’t think he could have inadvertently captured the essence of his own performance in a more succinct way.

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James Musker

Music Journalism student and lover of all things sensory and cosmic.