23 Minutes Over Brussels

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

23 Minutes Over Brussels is a recording of a live performance by Suicide on June 16, 1978, at the Ancienne Belgique in Brussels, Belgium, while supporting Elvis Costello and The Clash. The recording was first released as a promo in 1978,[1] but remained largely unheard until its release in 1998 with the reissue of the band's self-titled debut album.[2] The recording "gives some indication of the public's reaction to this confrontational duo in their heyday".[3]


A friend of the band, Howard Thompson, recorded the performance on cassette tape, and it was later released as a flexi-disc insert for a music magazine.[4] In 2000, while Mute Records was rereleasing Suicide's catalog, the tape was remastered and included as a bonus track for their first album. The entire performance is mixed as a single track.


Before Suicide even starts playing, booing can be heard from the crowd indicating that they wanted to hear the main act, Elvis Costello, straight away. Suicide is introduced and begins to play "Ghost Rider". Once it ends, there is booing from the crowd. The second song is "Rocket U.S.A". After that, at roughly 9:30, the audience can be heard chanting "ELVIS! ELVIS!". This attitude continues through the third and fourth songs, "Cheree" and "Dance".

The audience becomes more active during the performance of "Frankie Teardrop". At roughly 19:30, loud applause can be heard; someone steals Alan Vega's microphone (a woman at 20:35 can be heard saying "They took the mic"). Shortly afterwards, the music stops and the promoter comes on, warning the audience that if they don't give the microphone back, there will be "no show". Vega joins in, swearing at the audience. After receiving the microphone, he continues to sing "Frankie Teardrop" a cappella. After even more booing, Vega shouts "SHUT THE FUCK UP! THIS IS ABOUT FRANKIE!". A few moments later, there is rapturous applause as the band leaves the stage.

Later, Elvis Costello played a very short and angry set in which he made no secret of his outrage over Suicide's treatment by the crowd. This incited a riot. The show was cancelled and Vega's nose was broken. The story is detailed in the liner notes of the 2000 re-release.[5][6]


Suicide would only become famous after the peak of their activity was over. During the 1980s and 90s, they were responsible for influencing many bands and shaping genres such as industrial music, dance music and notably electroclash.[citation needed] This performance has been called "a record of proof of an innovative band’s struggle with an unreceptive audience" and has been compared to the audience's reactions to Dylan going electric. It also "clearly demonstrates two individuals flying in the face of convention, screaming their guts out to be heard, and failing to make a poignant imprint on the listening audience".[5] Allmusic said that "though the (reissues) extra tracks dilute the original album's impact somewhat, they're worthwhile supplements to one of the punk era's most startlingly unique works".[7] In review of their debut album for 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, Chris Shade called it a "riotous comedy", and noted that "(their) lack of rock 'n' roll accoutrements such as a drummer or guitarist often aroused violent reactions in their bewildered audiences".[3]


  1. ^ "21½ Minutes in Berlin / 23 Minutes in Brussels by Suicide : Reviews and Ratings - Rate Your Music". rateyourmusic.com. Retrieved 2013-04-13.
  2. ^ "Suicide - Suicide (CD, Album) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2011-12-05.
  3. ^ a b 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die (2008 Edition)-Dimmery, Robert Page 386
  4. ^ http://www.headheritage.co.uk/unsung/review/641/ Recording notes
  5. ^ a b "Julian Cope presents Head Heritage | Unsung | Reviews | Suicide - 23 Minutes Over Brussels". Headheritage.co.uk. 1978-06-16. Retrieved 2011-12-05.
  6. ^ Jack (2008-12-15). "Pound for Pound: Suicide - 23 Minutes Over Brussels". Poundforpound.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2011-12-05.
  7. ^ Phares, Heather (1978-06-16). "Suicide [First Album] - Suicide". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-12-05.