Suede - Hop Farm 2012 review
'Bringing Hop Farm 2012 to a near-perfect close'
John Bownas - 02 July 2012
With trademark dark operatic overtones, Suede arrive on the
Hop Farm Festival stage to bring the 2012 event to a suitably rapturous close.
Brett Anderson has Tom Cruise-like confidence as he struts through a crowd pleasing set dusted with favourites of the band and one of the promised new songs – ‘For the Strangers’ – which has been waited for with some anticipation by many fans keen to hear the direction that the new album might now take.
After a predictable opening number – ‘Introducing the Band’ – Suede go on to take the headline slot by storm. Without resorting to the eye-watering complexities of Friday’s Peter Gabriel show, they make really effective use of a simple black stage set, a few colour changes on the lights, a scattering of projected backdrop stills and two pinpoint spotlights that pick out Anderson in stark white as he makes full use of the space available.
No prisoners are taken as the five band members thunder through slabs of beautifully carved indie-guitar rock. All of this is punctuated by moments of calm, with acoustic guitars allowing the mood to become akin to the eye of a storm.
Gymnastic moves from Anderson are on frequent display as he vaults the custom-built stage monitor covers that keep him from accidentally putting his foot through a speaker cone. And forays off the stage take him regularly into the arms of a delighted crowd, who hug him to their hearts whenever he strays within arms’ reach.
As with any great band whose catalogue songs give them the luxury to be creative with set lists, Suede are able to bring out some of their really big-gun songs early on to get the crowd on their side.
‘We are the Pigs’, ‘Trash’, ‘Filmstar’ and ‘Animal Nitrate’ get progressively warmer welcomes, which proves to be a well-calculated move, as clearing skies mean that the temperature starts to plummet.
‘She’ allows the band to demonstrate their more introspective side, but ‘Can’t Get Enough’, turns the flame back up as an increase in tempo is accompanied by a fiercely lit red stage.
‘For the Strangers’ is introduced here as "something special for Hop Farm", and, on first listen, sounds like a mournful lament to fleeting lost love. But the closing verse of repeated 'na na na's leaves some of the crowd wondering if some of the lyrics have yet to be written, although perhaps this is an attempt to release another big crowd singalong track along the lines of ‘Beautiful Ones’, which later closes the main part of the set; with its own la la la section providing a chance for the crowd to exercise its collective vocal chords.
A stage managed encore is next up after Anderson announces that he has to follow protocol by explaining this to be the band’s last song – although now the game has been given away that they will definitely be back for more.
And true to his word, of course they soon are.
"We’ve never been so happy" is a line from ‘Saturday Night’ that is somehow reflected in the eyes of the crowd as Anderson makes yet another trip to the front row.
And finally, proceedings are wrapped up with an X-Factor-winning rendition of ‘Still Life’, which brings down the house and brings Hop Farm 2012 to a near-perfect close.
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