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Pop Music Review

London Suede Winning Fans in the U.S.

May 23, 1997|SARA SCRIBNER

The London Suede became huge in England when it arrived in 1993, but the band's androgynous image and sultry, '70s-style glam-rock didn't catch on in the U.S. To compound the pain, the more innovative group watched rival Oasis become the toast of the States.

At the El Rey Theatre on Wednesday, it appeared that the London Suede's staying power and its new album, "Coming Up," are winning it ardent fans. But the response didn't seem to cheer the band's lithe sex symbol, Brett Anderson, as he angrily struggled with sound problems throughout a set that was sometimes soaring and sometimes annoying.

The group has replaced founding guitarist Bernard Butler, who left in 1994, with Richard Oakes, emerging with a cathedral-big sound packed with guitar vigor and swelling keyboards and recalling David Bowie, Mott the Hoople and T. Rex. Anderson, who spent the night alternately basking in and backing off from the crowd's lusty enthusiasm, manages to mine an enticing, urbane world of the young, decadent and gorgeously down-on-their-luck.

But Anderson was visibly frustrated by the technical problems, and his relationship with the crowd seemed strained. The band's passion for its new material--especially "Trash" and "Saturday Night"--helped it overcome the problems and deliver a passionate and rousing, if imperfect, concert full of sensuality and low-rent glamour.

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