As pundits look to explain why none of the much-hyped British guitar bands (Ride, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, EMF, etc.) can make a dent in American music fans’ consciousness, the real answer seems obvious: They just can’t cut it onstage.
Recent English bands, whose only fame at home is often that they scored a major magazine cover in record time, are finding that their lack of live experience translates into disappointment and non-interest on the part of U.S. listeners.
This sets up one disappointment after another, as U.K. groups, many of which boast promising songwriting vision, leave a home country that treats them as superstars only to visit one that regards them with little more than curiosity.
Which brings us to Nude/Columbia act Suede and its show at the Palace. The band, which graced the cover of influential Brit music mag Melody Maker a month before its first single was released, sports three hit songs back home but has seen radio play here only for “Metal Mickey,” one of just a handful of memorable moments at this show.
Lacking any real visual or performance-oriented hook, the four-piece instead had to rely on its songwriting, a crutch that didn’t always support the band.
“The Drowners” and “Animal Nitrate”– Suede’s other singles — were two of the better offerings and were received warmly by a large Palace audience that was looking for something to get excited about. Unfortunately, the bulk of the hourlong show (Suede eschews encores) was a blur of similar-sounding tunes that demonstrated little promise for a band that simply doesn’t live up to the hype.
The Cranberries, Ireland’s answer to the now-defunct Scottish rock band Texas , played a 40-minute opening set that also left much to be desired.
Despite a current top-50 album full of mesmerizing and haunting pop songs, many of which recall a more delicate Sinead O’Connor, the Island group’s stage show was neither inspiring nor dynamic, two characteristics that one would expect given the beauty of much of the band’s debut, “Everybody Else Is Doing It , So Why Can’t We?”
Back to the rehearsal hall for both of these bands, where they should stay until they can put on a show that involves more than play-by-numbers performance.