It was with nervous anticipation that I booked a ticket online to see former Suede singer / songwriter Brett Anderson’s solo show at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London. I was relieved that it arrived in the mail before I left for England, as for some unknown reason venue pickup was not offered as an option.

brettanderson7 London holiday - Brett Anderson live at Shepherd's Bush Empire

The Empire is rather like the Forum theatre on Flinders St – an old building with a timber floored area, bars to the side and balconies above. There was a real sense of anticipation and curiousity among the crowd, which grew as the support act played. Then Brett and his band appeared – drums, bass, guitar, piano and cello.

brettanderson1 London holiday - Brett Anderson live at Shepherd's Bush Empire

The concert focused on his new third solo album Slow Attack. We heard almost the whole album (the setlist is from the forums on his official website):

  • Hymn
  • Wheatfields
  • The hunted
  • Frozen roads
  • Leave me sleeping
  • Scarecrows and lilacs
  • Summer
  • Ashes of us
  • The swans
  • Julian’s eyes

A fantastic fan video of Wheatfields is below.

brettanderson2 London holiday - Brett Anderson live at Shepherd's Bush Empire

Songs from my favourite album, his second solo album Wilderness, included:

  • Clowns
  • Chinese whispers
  • A different place
  • Funeral mantra

brettanderson3 London holiday - Brett Anderson live at Shepherd's Bush Empire

Brett then said he’d play some ‘old songs’ and the crowd roared in expectation of some Suede songs, but in vain. Anderson smirked and said ‘not that old’. He was really referring to his debut self-titled solo album, from which we heard:

  • To the winter
  • Love is dead
  • Song for my father

brettanderson4 London holiday - Brett Anderson live at Shepherd's Bush Empire

Encore:

  • Back to you (from Wilderness)

brettanderson5 London holiday - Brett Anderson live at Shepherd's Bush Empire

The band was fine and Brett was wonderful to hear live – his voice was clear and strong and he still has the same moves from his Suede days. It was a pleasure to hear his new album, which I had only listened to once through before going to the show.

brettanderson6 London holiday - Brett Anderson live at Shepherd's Bush Empire

I wanted to hear a lot more from Wilderness, his second solo album that, in my opinion, contains some of his best ever songwriting, and was expecting more of a balance between Wilderness and Slow Attack. I was somewhat disappointed he didn’t play any songs from Here come The Tears (an album he did with former Sude guitarist Bernard Butler as The Tears) but that’s hardly surprising. His first solo album is not as strong a work, so it mattered little that we heard only three songs from it.

brettanderson8 London holiday - Brett Anderson live at Shepherd's Bush Empire

When a popular band breaks up, I find it fascinating who continues to make music. Who is the real creative force who needs to keep producing new work regardless of its popularity? David Bowie is the best example of an artist continuing to do what he wants to do without doing what recording companies expect him to do, to the point where they sometimes refuse to release the finished product.

brettanderson9 London holiday - Brett Anderson live at Shepherd's Bush Empire

Britpop is not dead, but it has evolved. Former Blur singer / songwriter Damon Albarn does interesting projects like Gorillaz and a musical of Monkey. Former Lush guitarist / songwriter Emma Anderson had another band called Sing Sing, whose two albums contain some lovely melodic indie pop songs. Jarvis Cocker from Pulp is writing brilliant new songs as a solo artist.

brettanderson10 London holiday - Brett Anderson live at Shepherd's Bush Empire

Brett Anderson from Suede has made some wonderful new music. So Noel Gallagher, when are you going to join in?

brettanderson11 London holiday - Brett Anderson live at Shepherd's Bush Empire

Simononly has posted some excellent photos of the show on Flickr.

London holiday – Brett Anderson live at Shepherd’s Bush Empire

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