The London Suede

The members of Brit-poppers the London Suede, who enjoy No. 1 hits in much of the world, say they can't understand why Americans don't love them as much as everyone else. But the answer to the band's problem can be found in their current live show, which grows increasingly boring and melodramatic as it unfolds. That kind of thing may fly in Manchester or Cologne, but not around here, bub. That's to say nothing of the band's newer songs, full of inward-looking themes of class struggle and depression, not exactly where the winds of U.S. radio are blowing these days.

At the humid El Rey on Wednesday, the first of two sold-out shows here, the group, led by dynamic singer Brett Anderson, opened the 70-minute set slowly and never really lifted the proceedings above a dull mope.

Still handicapped by the 1994 loss of guitarist and main songwriter Bernard Butler, the group’s attempts to recapture their earlier inspiration — both in the studio and on stage — have sadly come up quite short.

In fact “So Young” and “Animal Nitrate,” taken from the group’s vibrant 1993 debut, “Suede” (before they were forced to add London to their name in the U.S. by an East Coast folk singer who owns the name Suede), were easily the highlights of the show.

Songs from their latest release, “Coming Up” (Nude/Columbia), simply lack the captivating substance and pop hooks of the band’s earlier, Butler-penned material.

Which puts the burden of the show squarely on Anderson’s shoulders, a feat he’s not quite up to. “All we want to be is lazy,” he sang during the new record’s “Lazy.”

You didn’t have to tell us that, Brett.

The London Suede

El Rey Theatre; 900 capacity; $15.50

Production: Presented by Goldenvoice and Philip Blaine.

Crew: Reviewed May 21, 1997.

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