who the hell are crushed child, then? The unknown group caused a stir on social media a few weeks ago, placing mysterious images on Instagram. Speculation grew that he might – might well – be Sweden, the British group currently preparing a new album. The IG feed quickly aired a pair of live shows – one in Manchester, one in London – which sold out almost instantly. For a completely unknown band with no music online, Crushed Kid certainly seems to have a following.
When Clash arrived at the Moth Club, it was already packed, with fans packed back and forth. Retaining its old workers’ club vibe, the gleaming ceiling echoes to the tunes of guest DJ Rhys Webb, who opts for trashy cuts from the glam era – that golden era of 1972 and 1973 when the most masculine quality you could have devilish cheekbones, a height of 28 inches and nail polish on all 10 fingers.
With feverish anticipation, the crowd rushes in and Crushed Kid reveals himself. Brett Anderson leads his cohorts of Suede on stage, a smile plastered on his face as he waves to the crowd. Suede’s next album, “Autofiction”, is dubbed their punk album, dropped cheek to cheek in the studio and aimed to replicate the searing energy of the band’s performances.
Tonight’s show certainly taps into that senseless bravado. It’s entirely dedicated to the new record, a glorious preview that excises the band’s past riches to focus exclusively on the present. There is a larger context to this, of course; we all suffer from post-lockdown boredom, and connection in its truest sense can be hard to find. What better way to break the glass around us as Brett Anderson writhing on stage just feet away, delighted fans flocking to the barriers?
Getting back in shape with the opener “She Still Leads Me On”, the group then plunged into “Personality Disorder” and the strangely tender “15 Again”. “That Boy On Stage” is practically a mini-manifesto for Brett Anderson’s theater, with bassist Mat Osman providing rocksteady counterpoint. Richard Oakes applies nimble brushstrokes to the arrangements, and while it’s possible to hear aspects of their past – “Dog Man Star” looms over these lush ballads, while the sheer sleaze of “Metal Mickey” haunts the most punk moments – the band never succumbs to nostalgia. A stubborn and relentless display of Suede’s position in 2022, the whole thing becomes less of an album preview, and more of a mission statement.
The volume drops a bit for “What Am I With You”, with the frontman explaining that the lyrics dissect the debt the band owes their fans and the ongoing connection that exists between them. He explains, “This next song is pretty special. I wrote it about you. It’s a love song for the public. What am I without you? I am nothing without you.”
Closing with an emphatic ‘Turn Off Your Brain And Yell’, the band leaves comments, cheers and stunned surprise. No encores, no rehearsals – for a first show, Crushed Kid leaves a heavy first impression.
Suede’s ‘Autofiction’ will be released on September 16.
Words: Robin Murray
Photo credit: Paul Khera