The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


Brett Anderson live at the Beijing Pop Festival

Brett AndersonReview Snapshot: Brett Anderson stole the show, and confronted authorities with a Saturday night of mostly Suede favourites at the Beijing Pop Festival.

CLUAS Verdict? 8 out of 10

Full review:
From the fans carrying signed posters into the ground teeny bopper style to the plentitude of CDs and t-shirts for sales outside you knew there was a bit of a buzz about Brett Anderson’s appearance at this year’s Beijing Pop Festival in downtown Chaoyang Park. The 70 percent local crowd looked more like university students rather than the black-tee brigade who frequent Beijing’s predominantly punk scene.

Anderson’s old band Suede made some noise (and lost much money) during a poorly attended show in Chaoyang Gymnasium in February 2003. But judging from the presence of posters ripped off the walls at that gig, the group made some friends on that trip.

The tight blue jeans, dress shirt and pin striped black jacket made Anderson look like Bryan Ferry when he took the stage at 7pm. The athleticism of the show – jacket came off six songs in – was vintage Anderson however, though the hair and vanity were very Ferry.

Dancing, squatting, kicking and occasionally quiet at the piano, Anderson took the Beijing Pop Festival by the scruff of the neck, the kind of middle age crowd pleasing effort that Sebastian Bach managed here last year. Bravely, he kept the hits for later in the night. Newer songs like Dust and Rain and Everything Will Flow were capable of holding the crowd’s attention until we got there.

“Using sex like an antidote,” from the latter song, is an apt line for Beijing, where beauty parlour culture manifests itself in pink lit cabins along the roads leading off Chaoyang Park. Beijing proffers great songwriting material to a writer like Anderson who has always been a kind of a Roddy Doyle of pop, revelling in the concrete and the % of urban life..

After My Love She’s Like A Cruel Disease, a slowish By The Sea marked the return to Suede land and we stayed there for the rest of the show. Wild Ones drew whoops of recognition. And then a giant Mastercard advert takes up the giant screen. Boos from the back of the crowd. Those bendable blinkies fly through the air during Film Star. Anderson blasts on through it even as a white towel is proferred, he’s too much into it and goes right into Beautiful Ones.

Anderson meant business. I Can’t Get Enough, arguably the best song was a slight deviation among tonight’s many hits, guitars and backing vocals punking it up. During the follow up, Trash, you wonder how hard it must be for the hired hands on the stage, given the reminders in tonight’s songs of how good Suede were on their long road together. Anderson’s school pal Matt Ossman has stuck by him, he’s playing bass tonight, but the difficulties with guitarist Bernard Butler are well documented.

Anderson’s own reputation for grumpiness is belied by tonight’s role as supreme crowd pleaser. Stage security – a troupe of young migrant worker security guards in ill fitting grey-green uniforms and hats like all the others that guard Beijing’s construction sites and car parks - keep a wide space between the crowd and stage and Anderson decides he wants to fill it during Saturday Night.

The result is pandemonium, and a reminder of what a crafty old stage crafter Anderson is. Totally unprepared for the situation, security resorted to default mode of local forces (repression) and tries to prevent him from walking along the barrier. Then a big laoban (boss) comes over to push Anderson back. The Suede man kept going however, waving the screaming top guard aside. The massive cheer showed China’s youth still likes confronting authority.

Mark Godfrey


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