August 3, 2012
Live: Savages – The Bodega, Nottingham. 30/07/12
“The songs aim to remind us that human beings haven’t evolved so much, that music can still be straight to the point, efficient and exciting” goes a quote from Savagesown website. Surrounded by the type of hype that only a band with one split single and a couple of scraps of live footage to their name can generate, the London four-piece certainly hold true to their word, delivering a set of cold, primal post-punk with enough nuance to remain totally absorbing.
Despite playing their debut gig in January of this year, the quartet already appears to have formed a tight unit – intentionally loose but not scrappy – built on the solid foundation of Fay Milton’ pounding drums and the Motorik bass of Ayse Hassan.
Opening with no hint of a greeting, and bathed in dry ice, the band’s curt and direct 45-minute set is packed full of an ominous, tense energy, lit solely by an onstage spotlight that casts angular and mesmeric shadow puppets on the wall. The high-register yelps of Gallic frontwoman Jehnny Beth (formerly of Lo-fi indie duo John and Jehn) have more than a hint of Ari Up or the late Poly Styrene about them, and the desperate urgency in her tone often verges on conjuring genuine concern in the listener. Her between-song patter is minimal to say the least, in-keeping with the group’s standoffish image, and no song is introduced by name aside from the already released B-side ‘Husbands’: a frantic and foreboding track in the guise of The Pop Group or (it was only a matter of time) earlier Joy Division – a steamroller version of which closed the set.
Gemma Thompson’s spare guitar lines add the only suggestion of colour to an otherwise monochrome setup, picking echoing phrases through the gloom of ‘Flying to Berlin’ before turning on the fuzz. It’s the required melodic balance to the Savages brooding sound, and one that teases further a debut LP – something Beth’s own Pop Noire label assure us is on the horizon. Judging by the favourable reaction to tonight’s showing, it had better be.
Read this review in context over at THE 405