Sunday, 14 September 2008


Ah, let me count the ways. It’s 1992 and grunge isn’t really cutting it beyond Nirvana and man cannot live on Nevermind alone. Having missed every great youth movement by being born in the nowhere nothing nobody year of 1978, at the age of fourteen I was content to live forever with my Smiths and Pixies albums and dream about what might have been. And then one Saturday morning this happened …

And that was it for me, absolutely in love. Suede Suede Suede. After that I ate, slept and lived nothing but the band. I had to take the train to the bright lights of Preston to buy those first magic three 12 inch singles because nowhere in the backwater of Blackpool stocked them and looking at my well-played and well-loved copies now I am confident they are amongst the most important moments in British music and my life.

The unholy trinity

The first time I saw them play I took the train to Liverpool in secret with a gang of older kids from around town and even though they all got completely hammered on Bacardi on the train to the point that one of them got her boob out in the street and even though we got separated between the stalls and the circle and one of them had to pretend she had her boyfriend’s insulin so they would let us swap and even though I had to leave before the end to get the last train, my adoration was sealed. I saw them play in total, I think, twelve times, including at my first ever Gay Pride on Hackney Marshes in which they transformed an otherwise fairly grim day into a celebration.

At the 1996 fanclub gig we waited in the snow outside the Hanover Grand as an impossibly pouty Suede-boy walked unflinchingly to the front of the line and somehow blagged his way in. Next time we saw him he was on stage playing keyboards, it was Neil Codling playing his first Suede gig.

We blagged our way backstage by pretending to be fanzine editors where we recorded a scandalous interview with Simon Gilbert. He proclaimed that Morrissey was openly gay, the whole mystery thing was utter bollocks, he was often to be seen round Soho with various rough trade boyfriends and it was no secret other than to deluded fans, like us, and that Simon himself had spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on cocaine. We were riveted. The tape also features a nervous seventeen-year-old me telling Simon that I’m not gay, when asked I might add. In fact I didn’t come out for another SEVEN YEARS. Jesus. Part of the allure of Suede though was that it didn’t matter, you didn’t have to have a cock up your arse (as Brett said) or be one thing or the other in order to be bent of gender and young and glamorous and all of that, it simply didn’t matter in their world.

In their heyday I was utterly in awe of Bernard, who I still rank alongside John Squire and Johnny Marr as all time kiss-my-shoes guitar heroes. Looking back though I’m bowled over more than ever by Brett’s brilliant lyrics which I have taken for granted for too long. See the following gems for proof he was amongst the greatest lyric writers of his day:

‘Where’s all the money gone? I’m talking to you …’

'This still life is all I ever do, there by the window, quietly killed for you ...'

‘She will come from Argentina with her cemetery eyes …’

‘In your council home he broke all your bones …’

‘You don’t think about it, you don’t do without it, because you’re beautiful, and if your baby’s going crazy that’s how you made me …’

(c) Tee Corinne

‘We’ll go from the bungalows where the debts still grow each day …’

‘All the white kids shuffle to the heavy metal stutter …’

‘Dressed as a cowboy in a permanent gag, it’s sadder than it probably sounds …’

‘She walks in beauty like the night, discarding her clothes in the plastic flowers …’

‘Come to my arms I’m lost, just you and me together in the year of the horse …’

‘Shake a fake tan through aerosol land …’

‘Oh Dad, she’s driving me mad …’

Favourite Suede moments …

Suede turn the entire Brit Awards upside down by caterwauling their way through ‘Animal Nitrate’ in lace shirts in front of an industry audience who are about as interested as your Mum and Dad were.

Brett’s hysterical rant over the majestic closing minutes of the greatest non-album single ever ‘Stay Together’.

The photo shoot in the public toilet.

(c) Joanne Leonard

Meeting the beautiful David McAlmont at the fan club gig.

Interviewed by the Melody Maker, Brett is asked to quote a line of poetry and recites ‘Pale blinds drawn all day, nothing to do, nothing to say …’ from Bowie’s ‘Sound and Vision’.

Covering 'Brass in Pocket' on The Word.

The interviewer who described Brett as ‘the bottom’.

Onstage at Blackpool Empress Ballroom, Bernard has the stage to himself as he crawls round on hands and knees during ear-splitting feedback from the end of ‘He’s Dead’ smashing a tambourine over and over on the floor until it’s literally in pieces, then jumps to his feet, smiles, and salutes the crowd like a boy scout.


Thom said...

Welcome back to the world of blog, and well worth the wait it was. You're so lucky to have been the right age for Suede. I only got to see them at Glasto 03 and on their last ever tour. Suede, Dog Man Star and Sci Fi Lullabies (CD1) really are as good as anything ever.

Best we don't mention the likes of "She lives in a house, she's stupid as a mouse" hey?

Thom said...

Oh, and have you seen this?

Gregling said...


writeitdown said...

I was at that Suede gig on Hackney Marshes for Pride! It was brilliant! Aw, maybe we were standing next to each other...

Gregling said...

Maybe we were, reveal yourself!