Suede – review

Kenwood House, London
Suede's artistically valid and modest reunion on Hampstead Heath showed a convincing and stylish return to form

Nothing denotes a band's status in pop history quite like the venues they get to play when they reform. For Blur, it was sell-out concerts in front of 60,000 at Hyde Park. Pulp played safer with theatres and the odd arena. Rumour has it that Oasis will reunite to headline Glastonbury next year, the biggest show there is. Suede, the first of the Britpop big four to break through, are reuniting at an in-between level, too big for the theatres, not quite big enough to fill the arenas, and their London outdoor show is playing to around a sixth of Blur's crowd. It might seem unfair, given the way they transformed perceptions of British rock in the early 90s, but on a glorious evening, the folds of Hampstead Heath provide a wonderful backdrop. Brett Anderson sounds sincere and humble when he states his pleasure at playing "a park where I've spent a lot of happy times".

That their reunion was artistically valid, as well as good for their bank accounts, is proved by the ballads from their newest album, Bloodsports, being among the evening's highlights. Sometimes I Feel I'll Float Away drifts across the hot evening air, a pop fever dream, then What Are You Not Telling Me chases it over the crowd and into the woods. It helps, too, that they have weathered remarkably well: bassist Mat Osman sways and swings on legs that might be telescopic, Anderson – in tight white shirt and tighter dark trousers – looks as if he has walked out of an advert in Vanity Fair.

He scales the monitors and brushes the hands of the front rows as Suede pile through the updated glam rockers – Metal Mickey, Animal Nitrate, Filmstar – that made their name first time round, Richard Oakes's guitar crunching behind him. And it's hard not to be glad Suede are back, and also that you don't need to share them with 60,000 others.

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Michael Hann

The GuardianTramp

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