London Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen
Thursday 7 June, 2012
Savages are so good we have reviewed them twice!
(as you may have noticed the website is having problems, our server 1@1 has been a nightmare to deal with, normal service should be resumed in the next few days…)
There’s a first time for everything, and I can honestly say that in over 30 years of gig-going I’ve never before loitered after a band’s performance in order to – eventually – purchase a T-shirt directly from the singer, and nor have I ever done so whilst grinning at said musician like a fool and uttering the words: “Amazing set!”Â
But this is what Savages do to you. This London-based band startedÃÂ rehearsing last October and only began playing gigs in January, when they made their live debut supporting British Sea Power, yet already their stripped-back, fiercely beautiful tribal-dub attack has the power to draw packs of photographers to the front of the stage while rows of grinning converts gawp behind them.
It’s a buzz that transmits between band and crowd, drummer Fay Milton almost laughing during an early airing of the stunning single Husbands, bouncing behind her kit like she’s desperate to break free and dance to her own fluid, poundingÃÂ rhythms. Meanwhile bassist Ayse Hassan closes her eyes, lost in the rumble of this exhilarating music, swaying gently like Warpaint’s similarly intuitive Jenny Lee Lindberg, as the beats and minimalist blasts of Sonic Youth-ish incendiary guitar propel us onwards.
As a rhythm section Milton and Hassan are remarkable, both obviously love this noise and possess an awareness of the value of stillness and space, as well as the ability to make a fantastic racket. For many readers the name of much-missed drone-rock titans Loop may resonate here.
There’s a dubby swing to songs like City’s Full, tunes that burn with an oxy-acetylene intensity personified by singer Jehnny Beth, who has a habit of looming in shadow at the back as if waiting for a signal to step forward and unleash her remarkably powerful, reverb-steeped voice. And when she does, twitching violently to the music, hammering her microphone stand into the floor, it’s impossible not to be transfixed by her menacing charisma.
Meanwhile, it must mean something that single track Flying To Berlin – a more than decent song – stands out, perversely, as Savages’ most conventional and least interesting moment. This is aÃÂ rareÃÂ aberration though. Give Me A Gun provides the band with a chance to let rip, the music slamming and stop-starting while Jehnny shimmies alongside impressively free-spirited guitarist Gemma Thompson as she stoops to nail some fizzing, jagged riffage, long hair obscuring her face like Jonny Greenwood in his own absorbed onstage mode. In a tender moment, Jehnny places the top of her friend’s lowered head between her hands and kisses it softly, as if in admiring wonder, before strutting and spitting out the final verse of the explosive No Face.
When they come together like this, Savages’ spirits fuse to create something new, alluringly androgynous andÃÂ effortlessly cool, deploying aggression, fiery sensuality and songs to kill for.
Amazing set? That’s putting it mildly.ÃÂ