I should really know better than to go to a gig at Reading Rivermead; the last and only other time was a fiasco due to one of our number getting sick and the bouncers being distinctly unhelpful. This time it was my turn! Rachel and I parked the car at 8.30 after a good run up the M4, but I suddenly suffered a serious bout of the shivers and sweats walking into the venue! Felt bloody awful as well, like the initial stages of flu (real flu, not man-flu!), so, after some advice from a couple of passing first aiders, we sat out in the sports centre reception and I nursed a hot chocolate while my metabolism tried to calm down somewhat. This was good timing as well, as it meant we missed the atrocious electro bleep nonsense of Merz.
Entered the venue proper at 9, joining the sold-out throng stage left, and enjoying some fine warm-up music (Pixies, Sex Pistols). Unfortunately I then started feeling even ropier, but put this feeling to one side at the arrival of the band at 9.30 sharp! I figured that if M.E. sufferer, Suede keyboardist Neil Codling, could cope, then so could I!
So, what of Suede, a band that amazingly I'd not seen "live" since their heady early days, and a band whose recent studio output had left me mightily disappointed? What would they do tonight? Well, I have to report that tonight they were bloody excellent! They ripped into the heady clash of new single and set opener "Can't Get Enough" with some surprising venom, and second number "Trash", a song I'd previously dismissed as glammy and messy, was strident, dynamic and great! A well paced set followed, new numbers interspersed with recognisable and familiar stuff, with vocalist Brett Anderson an unexpectedly energetic and forthright frontman. The music - brash, sleazy, glammy and with a sinister yet quintessentially British feel - was lapped up by an enthusiastic crowd. The moody, Bowie-esque "Wild Ones" (accompanied, unfortunately, by a crowd fight) and delicious oldie "Animal Nitrate" were set highlights of possibly, and unexpectedly, the best set this year by a British band!
A shame I couldn't do it justice; I needed Red Bull towards the end of the set, and, feeling quite ill, we left just after the encores started. I'm glad I stuck it out for this fine set, though!