SUEDE: Albert Hall, Manchester. 19th & 20th April 2019.

23 04 2019

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Over the weekend, I finally got to see a band who I have adored since I first heard them in 1993. It was Animal Nitrate that got me. I was only 7 years old, but I remember being in absolute awe of Brett Anderson. Everything about him just had me hooked. His voice, the way he moved and the way he looked. A few years later I had the same experience when I heard Garbage for the first time. I wanted to be Shirley Manson.

Suede were my childhood, and their music has been my everything ever since. I never thought they’d be a band that I would see live, let alone two nights in a row. How do you prepare yourself to see a band that you’ve grown up with and have been your world? Quite simply, you don’t. What you do is bawl like a baby as soon as they set foot on to the stage. Which is what my girlfriend and I did. Suede is the band that are ours, and to finally see a band that we love together was just incredible.

There is no denying that Brett is an exceptional frontman. The energy he has and the way he moves puts newer bands to shame. He leaps across the stage like a gazelle, and has the voice of an angel. Known for going into the crowd during some songs, he has his shirt ripped both nights. He sings the songs with such importance, as the torn fabric of his shirt is swaying to the breeze of the on-stage fan behind him. He lassoes his mic around him, and above the crowd like a ringleader. He then wraps it around his body and neck; he does it in a way that has him grinning directly at Simon (the exceptional drummer) and it is just the most beautiful moment between the two.

Why did we go two nights in a row? Well, I convinced myself that the set list would be different. I’m hardly ever right, but thankfully I was this time. Although they could perform the alphabet and I’d still think it was the best thing ever. Let me just explain to you why night one was out of this world:

  • Acoustic version of Mistress
  • Sleeping Pills (I cried a lot during this)
  • The Drowners
  • It Starts And Ends With You.

How is that for back to back Suede gold? Absolutely perfect. It was my version of Christmas. So how was night two going to compete? Acoustic versions of She’s In Fashion and The Wild Ones (I bawled my eyes out to this.) The Wild Ones is one of the most gorgeous songs ever written, and to hear it in this stripped back way was so overwhelming in the most beautiful way possible. Both nights were truly magical, and just reinforced my love for this brilliant band. Nothing and no one compares to them, and two nights of seeing them just wasn’t enough. I need more, I want more.

They played one of, if not the best venue in Manchester- the Albert Hall. An old church with its stained glass windows. There was something about this venue that made the shows out of this world. The band all looked in awe of their surroundings, with Brett occasionally hitting his heart to show his appreciation.

The crowd was wonderful. Every single song was sung back as if you were in a stadium, and songs like Trash and We Are The Pigs were screamed back at the band in a way that just oozes sheer devotion, love and obsession. You can truly see how much the band love each other, their fans and playing live. They are easily one of the best bands I have ever seen live. I had no idea what to expect from the shows, but it’s claimed a large piece of my heart for sure.

The shows end with Beautiful Ones and the gorgeous Life Is Golden (a song which is for Brett’s son.) To see people sing the words back at Brett to Life Is Golden is truly something else. He steps into the crowd, and clings onto the fans as he sings “You’re never alone” is so precious and something that stays with you.

These two shows were some of the greatest ones I’ve ever been to. For sentimental value, it’s easily one of the most important and the songs played were heavenly. It felt like an almost religious experience, and is something I am going to remember and treasure for a hell of a long time.

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BEACH HOUSE: Albert Hall, Manchester. 19th October 2018.

20 10 2018

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We all have a band that we adore seeing live. A band that when we see them, just makes everything better. It gives you this sense of belonging, and finding “home.” Live music is so powerful, and when it is one of the bands you unconditionally love- it means so much more.

Prior to last night’s show, I had seen Beach House twice in London a couple of years ago. I was just in awe of the lighting, the way they sounded and how electric the atmosphere was. I’ve never connected with London, so to see them in my newly adopted home- Manchester, was just a dream come true. Since 2006, Beach House have been a band that have meant the world to me, and have always been the most comforting sound. To see them in such a beautiful venue in the best city in the world, was just perfect.

Albert Hall is one of Manchester’s best venues and just a beautiful building. An old converted church that was just perfect for Beach House. To see the silhouettes of people dancing against the stain glass windows was so moving, and to see a sea of people getting completely and utterly lost in the music was such a thing of beauty. There was a person at the front of the stage wearing a yellow hoodie (I think) and from where I was sitting, I could see exactly how much the music means to him. They were reacting how I have done so many times at shows. This was the first time I had seen Beach House and not cried. Their music is everything to me, and to see someone else react like I do and have done was just so moving. Victoria noticed the person, and she went over to them. It was such a beautiful moment. Victoria has this presence on stage that, although you know she is shy, she has this gorgeous aura about her that is so soothing. To see her be this way towards a fan was such a lovely and touching moment.

Beach House played 18 songs. 18 songs that filled the venue with love and comfort. Songs that mean the world to us all. Beach House have enough records for you to want to see them live all the time, and B-sides to make you even more addicted to them. Their set list last night was just perfect. I could not have dreamed up a better list of songs to hear. I mean sure, classics like Lover Of Mine and Apple Orchard but it’s the rarer songs that really hit you in the gut. The reaction that everyone’s favourite, Myth has is just beautiful.  Walk In The Park was the most sentimental song for me. I’ve used that song so many times as a way out of whatever was going on.

The drums on 10 Mile Stereo blew my mind completely. Every time I’ve seen them, this song has always been played and every single time it just moves me. It is such a brilliant song, and to see it live never ever gets old. Alex and Victoria are nothing short of brilliant musicians. Victoria hides behind her hair, but her presence is so big and so wonderful. She doesn’t need to make pointless conversation or behave a certain way in order for you to pay attention. Her voice is so calming. Beach House are a band I listen to after I’ve had a panic attack, so I do listen to them a hell of a lot! There is something so reassuring about Alex’s hypnotic guitar and Victoria’s gentle voice. It feels like you’re being guided towards something your mind can’t always take you to. Beach House take you there, always.

Beach House have always been a band I use as a guide and just a form of security. Their live shows most certainly reinforce all of this. I adored seeing Wishes, Girl of the Year and Norway so much. Norway and Lazuli are two songs that I treat as my crutch at times, and every element of these songs just calms me down. 18 songs don’t feel like enough. It went by so fast, and I just wanted to hear more and more. The lighting wouldn’t make an epileptic feel too great, but it makes the show. The lights are in time to certain moments of the songs. Myth and Lemon Glow for me, really came to life and the lights just made you feel like you were in an abandoned swimming pool, and Beach House just give you this pure and joyous experience that no other band can give you. You feel like you’re floating and unaware of what is happening in the outside world. Music is the perfect escape, and Beach House just fill you with this feeling of freedom that no other band ever has.

Was this one of the best shows I’ve ever been to? Of course it was. I loved how diverse the crowd was, and the amount of love shown for the band. And the way that Beach House reciprocated it, was nothing short of perfect.

Beach House are a band that you just have to see. On record they ease your soul, and their live shows go above and beyond this. With each record they find new ways to captivate you, and for me their live shows do exactly the same every single time.

 

 





THE KILLS: Albert Hall, Manchester. 29th September 2016.

30 09 2016

I’ve had next to no sleep so what you are about to read is the ramblings of someone who has trouble sleeping at the best of times, but this time it is coming from a better place. 
In 2003 I remember vividly sitting in my room with my ears pressed again my stereo. Not too loud because I had school the next day and of course, I didn’t want my mum to know I was still awake. I was listening to a John Peel show and he had a band called The Kills doing a session. They did Gypsy Death & You, and I was hooked. A few years later I would name this blog after that. And over the years, that song became my crutch. It still is. I saw them live in 2008 at The Sugarmill in Stoke. I was right at the front and my mind was blown and I was in a daze as I looked up at the two people I absolutely idolise. Move forward 8 years and after missing out in the years between due to circumstances out of my hands, I saw them last night in Manchester.
The setlist was perfect. They are perfect and this was easily one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. It’s the way they look at each other, it’s the way Alison bends herself in a way that makes you think she’s going to snap, it’s the way Jamie holds his guitar like a machine gun and aims at us. It’s the way that they put everything into it and you cannot help but stare at them in awe. You just don’t know who to watch.


There’s so much importance within their songs for me and it’s the songs that you can probably say, saved a life a few times. Their music has been keeping me sane for well over a decade and from them, I’ve learnt that you just need one person on your side and all is alright.
There’s a moment in the set where Jamie stands at the front with his guitar and at the end, Alison lovingly kisses his shoulder and it’s moments like this that make you see just how beautiful their friendship is. He walks up to her as she sings, strutting with his guitar in a way that looks like a big brother endearingly winding up their little sister. They look at each other with an emotion that not everyone gets to experience, and when you do- you just know.
The setlist is perfect, it truly is. In an ideal world they would play each record from start to finish and I’d just stand all day watching them, ha. Their is a brilliant mix of all 5 records, and hearing Dead Road 7 live is something that leaves you with goosebumps all over. 
For the encore, Alison takes to the stage on her own and does That Love. I remember when I got my copy of the new record, Ash & Ice and before I played it, I read the lyrics. I had the record next to me to place on my record player, and I sat and studied the lyrics first. I always do this. I read the lyrics to That Love and instead of playing it all in order, I went straight for that song. The words meant something at the time and gave me something I needed. This can be said for a lot of their songs. To hear it stripped back like this was truly gorgeous and we got to see just how strong her voice is. 

There is something special about the way they perform Siberian Nights and Fried My Little Brains. It just leaves you again, with goosebumps all over and the inability to speak afterwards. They are truly mind-blowing to watch, for so many reasons. Songs like Tape Song and Black Balloon give you courage and the beauty in Baby Says just leaves you frozen. 


As I watched Alison stalk the stage like a lioness waiting on their prey, and how she moves across the stage looking at the crowd-how she performs reminds me so much of the greats such as Iggy Pop, Patti Smith. The ones who are fearless and captivating. I looked at Jamie and all I could think was, “you make it look so easy.” And again, I just wished I could play the guitar. His machine gun stance and her prowling are just the perfect combination. It goes beyond music, it always has. Their shows are made up of moments that the person watching will take with them forever. Moments that become so sacred to them. At times you also feel you are looking in on something private yet exposed at their shows, and I think that it part of what lures you in and makes you unsure of where to look. They don’t need to engage with small talk to the crowd, they really don’t. Their music and the looks on their faces do it all. That for me, makes them tower over most. That for me just explains everything I love about them. The music says it all. Always has, always will. It’s just so powerful and enthralling.

At 1am this morning, after waiting in the rain since the show ended and after waiting 13 years- I met Alison Mosshart. I didn’t by no means get to tell her what I wanted/needed to, and maybe one day in the future our paths will cross again and I can tell her. But I met her. I met the person I have looked up to for so long, and when this happens something inside of you changes. The same feeling I got when I met Patti Smith hit me-but without the ugly crying. For me, this show had so much sentimental value for reasons you, dear reader, you don’t need to know. Maybe you already know why. I could write so much more about last night, but I’ll save it up for the next show.

Meet your heroes. Go watch them play. I’m seeing The Kills again a week today in London. The first and last show. My brain will be fried once more.

*photos of the show taken by me.