Pop Music Reviews : 'Suede's' Not Like It Used to Be

Campy decadence, skewed sex appeal and velvety mystique--that's what the London Suede were made of. With its 1993 debut, the British pop quartet breathed grandeur back into rock via larger-than-life attitude and rich pop tunes a la Ziggy Stardust. A tour that followed also proved the band (then known simply as Suede) to be a tight and engaging live act whose talent superseded even the hype coming from London's rock press.

But Thursday at the American Legion Hall in Hollywood, the band seemed to have lost its bearings, and instead came off clumsy, slightly disjointed and deflatingly mediocre. Where singer Brett Anderson once played off the sassy attitude of rock stars of Bowie and T. Rex's Mark Bolan, Thursday he seemed to be chasing those images, while the band was too lax to spin out any escapist vibe.

Anderson swiveled his hips all sexy-like, but nearly fell over a couple times while trying to whip up some enthusiasm from the audience. He often flattened the higher notes and moodier moments by recklessly plowing through songs, while the band followed suit by sloppily pounding out once-intricate arrangements.

New guitarist Richard Oakes failed to weave the complex, reverberating sonics that his predecessor Bernard Butler did, making the return of the London Suede feel somewhat like Morrissey minus Johnny Marr--as if something integral were missing.

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