Live Review: Suede at Kenwood House’s Live by the Lake

on stage at Kenwood House

on stage at Kenwood House - Credit: Archant

The indie icons delivered a triumphant set that looked back over twenty years and suggested there are many more to come

As one concert-goer put it, “there are more yummy mummies here than at a John Lewis sale.”

Among the many outdoor festivals Suede have played this year, their appearance at Live by the Lake felt like a homecoming - perhaps because they were playing largely to the fans they had grown up with.

Kenwood House’s renaissance as a modern music venue over the last few years has been well documented, but its new concert managers, Rouge Events, must be praised for balancing the venue’s newfound contemporary appeal with its classical roots.

In the spirit of this balance, few bands could have been more fitting than Suede.

With their euphoric arrangements and the soaring vocals of Brett Anderson, they have long been the operatic cheekbones of modern indie.

Despite the onset of twilight, the afternoon’s humid weather gratefully made for a warm summer evening and a relaxed family atmosphere turned quickly to fan fervour as the stage lights dimmed.

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In a cute nod to Kenwood’s concert history, the band walked on to the sounds of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No.2. From thereon in, it was an emphatic and electrically-received celebration of a back catalogue twenty years in the making.

Opening with ‘The Big Time’, a 1993 b-side to crowd-pleaser ‘Animal Nitrate’, Suede evidently knew they were playing to their own. Making numerous references to the twentieth anniversary of their first album, it was deliciously ironic hearing their odes to teenage drug culture played with such lasting ferocity – particularly the heroin-chic of ‘So Young’.

Nonetheless, most encouraging was the seamless integration of their new material, overseen as it was by the developed understanding between nonchalant guitarist Richard Oakes and the fantastically glam keyboardist Neil Codling.

From the triumphant early inclusion of ‘Barriers’ to the emotional, pleading ‘What are you not telling me?’, Suede have finally found the matured identity they have been searching for since 1996’s Coming Up.

As the descending night engulfed everything but the neo-classic grandeur of Kenwood House itself, Anderson took a moment to relay a fondness for his leafy surroundings – a fondness he later expanded on for the Ham & High (see this week’s issue) – before ending with Dog Man Star single ‘New Generation’.

Reappearing post-encore for one last adrenaline-charged rendition of ‘Beautiful Ones’, Suede sealed a ninety minute love-letter and sent it off with a first-class stamp. Time, people and place worked in unison and put together a performance that will live long in the memory.