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LIVE REPORT: Suede In Benidorm
Trevor Baker , August 7th, 2012 10:13

Ciudad Deportivo Guillermo Amor, Benidorm 27 July 2012

Benidorm looks pretty good from a distance. As you approach on the main road from Alicante it's like a scruffy Spanish Manhattan, hundreds of skyscrapers jabbing into the blue sky like kids throwing devil horns at a pool party. There are more high rise buildings in this town per head than anywhere else in the world. This is one reason why it seemed to make sense to review Suede here. We know they love tower blocks. And “tasteless bracelets”, dodgy tattoos and other things that we've got plenty of in the “ex-pat” bits of the Costa Blanca. I always wondered why 'The Next Life' finishes with them wanting to sell their ice-creams in Worthing.

As we arrive at the first night of the rather prosaically named “Low Cost Festival”, though, in a football stadium on the outskirts of town, the atmosphere couldn't be further from the aesthetic of a Suede song. Everything's clean and nice. The people, almost exclusively young Spaniards, look comfortable in their own tanned skins. When Brett Anderson walks on stage he looks, in contrast, very much like a certain kind of ex-pat. Not one of the cheerful, fat ones or the miserable old ones but somebody who's spent a few years hiding out in a bar after doing something unforgivable back home. There's no beer-belly or Union Jack tattoo, but the intense expression is worryingly reminiscent of Ben Kingsley in Sexy Beast.

Playing a festival that's consciously marketing itself as a kind of Tesco's Value Meal, to the Waitrose of Benicassim and Primavera Sound further up the coast, could seem like a challenge to this intensity but you'd think these were Suede's last words, rather than the latest in a long series of comebacks. The whole band are ferociously focussed. The knife-fight clang of the guitars in 'Animal Nitrate' and Brett's queasily-triumphant yelp sound as horribly relevant as they ever did. “Sing it!” he screams before the chorus, without letting the slightly confused response of the crowd get him down (“what do the lyrics mean?” The girl behind me asks. “Erm. . .”)

The temperature drops a bit with new track 'Sabotage', which, with its air of doomed and epic romance (“her touch is like a raven's shadow”) is a little bit like forgotten hit 'Stay Together'; something that Brett probably wouldn't regard as a compliment, but which isn't exactly an insult either. However, a fevered 'Can't Get Enough', where it sounds like he wants to shove the whole stadium into his mouth, and a throbbing 'Killing Of a Flashboy' bring us right back into the kitchen sink horror film in Brett's head.

Ever since Coming Up, though, Suede have more often been about pop fun than the dark thrills of the first two albums. That's certainly the version of Suede that most of Europe knows and loves best. They reinvented themselves back in 1996 with 'Trash' and, especially, 'Beautiful Ones' as the kings of party music for what the Spanish call “frikis”: geeks, self-confessed losers and weirdos. In a town where even the frikis love to have a good time, then, Suede really do make perfect sense.

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