Kenwood House is hosting a majestic short festival over the coming days, entitled Live by the Lake. The first night saw Teleman, British Sea Power and Suede take to the stage. Although music lovers have been warned that the concerts are standing areas only, the greenery is so sprawling that people are happy to lie around and casually take in the surroundings. There are picnic blankets, jugs of Pimms, camping chairs and inflatable LED hands waving in the air.
This is a place for couples who fell in love with Suede before their hiatus, many of whom have bought their children along, held up on their fathers’ shoulders. It is a very peaceful setting despite the pounding music, and it is at the very upper end of the festival scale – drinks are not cheap and the queues are astounding – up until the moment Suede burst on stage in a whirling display of lights. Immediately the bar queue disappears and the crowd sprint towards the stage, arms laden with as much booze as they can carry.
Suede formed in 1989 and are considered by many to be the forefathers or early predecessors of Britpop – a label they clearly do not relish: Suede were more polished and glam rock than the laddish bands such as Oasis and Blur of the Britpop era. Despite changes in line-up, a hiatus and in-band tensions over the years, Suede are back with a new album (their sixth), Bloodsports. Band members taking to the stage on Friday night include Brett Anderson, Mat Osman, Simon Gilbert, Richard Oakes and Neil Codling. Yet the focus is on just one man – the camera never strays away from Anderson. The ultimate and original showman is as dapper as ever in his tight white shirt and trousers, looking as handsome at 45 and lithely leaping around the stage with impressive vocals.
Animal Nitrate gets the crowd excited. So Young, Trash and Beautiful Ones are definite favourites and, off their new album, one can’t help but enjoy the mellowness of It Starts and Ends With You. Anderson pours his heart and soul into the performance in a magical setting, but be prepared to spend a lot at Live By the Lake and don’t expect a charged atmosphere. The audience are relaxed to the point of either standing still in admiration or lounging on the slopes gazing at the stars.
Our rating: ***
Photos: Krish Nagari