Suede with support from James & Runaway Go
24th August 2013 – Custom House Square, Belfast
The crowds are beginning to gather at Custom House Square for this evening’s aureal treat at Belsonic – rock legends Suede will soon be playing their first Belfast gig in over ten years. Opening for the best band of all time is always going to be a tough task, and this evening local 5 piece Runaway Go have been given this grave responsibility. As a result of their early performance time, the group are marred at first by the twin spectres of heavy rain and modest crowds, although singer David promises that the band will “bring the sun out” over the next thirty minutes
Runaway Go put in a great performance on stage. Although at some points the group’s sound quality suffers, quite possible due to the open aired nature of this evening, there is no doubting that the group have some great tunes in their arsenal. From the opener ‘Alligator’, through to the exciting energy of ‘Jump Start’, through to the more tender moments of ‘Delicate Man’, this evening’s set shows a band who are just as deserving as a place at Belsonic as any of their peers. By the end, the crowd has picked up a little, and true to David’s word, the rain does indeed stop by the end of the group’s set, but as of yet the Met Office has yet to confirm if the band really do have power over the elements. The group have done themselves proud, and this evening’s performance is likely to have won them a few new admirers, as well as placing them on certain people’s “Ones to Watch” list.
Manchester rockers James are playing their first gig in Belfast since 1991 this evening, and throughout the set, the band (and even more crucially, the audience), appear to enjoy every single minute of this much delayed reunion. The band kick off with an extended version of early single “Johnny Yen”, and throughout their set the band play a hearty mix of classic James songs, as well as some newer tracks like “Oh My Heart”. Lead singer Tim Booth is a wonderful performer, treating the audience to his own trademark ‘rag doll dancing’ during songs. During ‘Come Home’, he walks around the crowd, dancing with revellers, allowing his picture to be taken, all the while not missing or messing up a single lyric of the song. Among the other highlights of the set, ‘Sit Down’ is as much the crowd pleasing stadium anthem it was when it was released over 20 years ago, and ‘Getting Away With It All’ is well regarded by the crowd. The band finish off with their never-off-Absolute Radio classic ‘Laid’, and the band leave the stage to a rapturous reception from the audience. With such a great reception to a great performance, it is highly likely that it will be a lot less time than 22 years that James make a return journey to Belfast.
And now the moment that everybody has been waiting for. Custom House Square is filled to capacity, largely by a crowd of people in their thirties and forties (although the occasional whippersnapper who was barely out of nappies when this group released their debut single can also be observed). On the stroke of nine, the crowd erupt, as Brett, Richard, Simon, Neil and Mat, the 10 handed godlike entity known to the world over as Suede, enter the stage. The group’s opening few songs are somewhat subdued, opening with early b-side ‘High Rising’, followed by new song ‘Barriers’, before taking things up a notch with recent single ‘It Starts and Ends With You’, a verse-less crowd pleaser which is one the best songs the band have written for many years.
And then the anthems arrive. The crowd go mental as the riff for ‘Trash’ rings out, the crowd chanting along to every word of the outsider anthem. This is then followed by the familiar ‘Animal Nitrate’, a true beast of a song, and the glam-rock stomper ‘She’. Quite a few of the songs that Suede are performing this evening has been taken from their recent ‘Bloodsports’ album, their first release in 11 years, and it is a testament to the band that these songs stand up extraordinarily well against their more well known material. The band follow up the familiar piano ballad ‘By The Sea’ with new track ‘For The Strangers’, and given how resonate the themes are between the two songs, it is hard to believe that the songs were written nearly 20 years apart. One of their slower new songs, ‘Sometimes I Feel Like Floating Away’, is already on its way to being a future live classic. Brett Anderson sits on top of his amp whilst singing the song, and after the first chorus, the band just stops dead, for what seems like a minute. The group takes this opportunity to take in all the adulation that the Belfast crowd are showing them, before continuing on. It is a truly magic moment indeed.
Other highlights of the set including the heavy rock behemoth ‘Filmstar’, ‘Killing of a Flashboy’ (another Suede song which was only released as a b-side, almost every single person in the crowd is still able to sing along to it word perfect in spite of this), and early single ‘Metal Mickey’. During ‘The Wild Ones’, Brett Anderson jumps off stage to greet his many admirers at the barriers, resulting in many people of a certain age reverting to teenagers momentarily at the prospect at being able to touch the charismatic frontman. The band close up their set with two further songs from their seminal ‘Dog Man Star’ album, ‘Heroine’ (which you may be surprised to learn is about drugs), and the fantastic ‘New Generation’. After leaving the stage, the band return for a quick one song encore, which they charmingly dedicate to the people of Belfast – their pop classic ‘Beautiful Ones’.
As Suede leave the stage, it is evident that this evening’s crowd have witnessed something breathtaking. Suede might not be ‘So Young’ anymore, but they have more energy in them than groups half their age, and have an arsenal of tunes at their disposal that even their contemporaries would be jealous of. If any of the younger people in attendance happen to be in a band themselves, they better have been taking notes – this is how you become the greatest band in the world. Belsonic will have its work cut out to put on a gig next year even half as good as Suede have been this evening.