“We wanted to focus on writing lyrics for the stage…. we like to perform it in a really physical, emotional, violent way.” – Gemma.
It’s Monday night, dark damp and quite frankly miserable. We find ourselves on the outskirts of Leeds city centre outside an old industrial that has been converted into a minimalistic contemporary art space (their words not mine – it looks like a warehouse I used to work in, but with a bar and a stage). To be honest, I wasn’t feeling well and should probably have been curled up on the settee feeling sorry for myself. But, The Savages were in town. So an evening at The Vox it would be.
I’m not quite sure what is meant by contemporary but The Vox is minimalistic – floor, walls, bar, stage, why bother with anything else? Fairly small and hopefully intimate, they had Havana Club rum so I warmed to the place immediately.
Now I don’t know about you, but two things that really get on my wires at gigs are really tall people and people taking pictures and videos with their phones. Tall people are tall and other than stand at the back there’s not a lot they can do. But people with phones!!! Put them away, I’ve come to watch the band through my eyes not through your i-screen!!! Apparently, The Savages agree, maybe not about tall people, but they do about phones. Polite notices from the band asking people to keep their phones in their pockets and totally immerse themselves in the show, were dotted all around the venue. Good. I was beginning to like The Savages even more and they hadn’t played a note yet.
our goal is to always discover better ways of living and experiencing music
we believe there are still new ways to be found
we believe the use of phones to film and take pictures during a gig prevents all of us from totally immersing ourselves
only with full experience will the words we speak be true
let’s make each evening special
silence your phones
Unless something absolutely amazing comes out in the next few weeks, for me, Silence Yourself is by far the best album of 2013, would The Savages live be as good?
Taking the stage Jehnny lets everyone know where she is by belting out ‘I Am Here’. She certainly is, but she’s not alone. Gemma’s guitar, Ayşe’s bass and Fay’s drums have come with her. The lights are good the sound is good – let’s go!
The energy coming out of Fay’s drums is wild and powerful as it drives us through the set. Every number gets you bouncing along – anyone for a pogo?
Ayşe spends the entire set hammering the bass with a wry smile on her face and a little dance in her hips.
Gemma’s guitaring is complex but slick and faithfully recreates the feel of the album.
Up front Jehnny is amazing. Forget the comparisons. This is no imitator. Jehnny Beth is a true performer in her own right. Her vocals are faultless and her stage craft is second to none. She moves around the stage, staring out members of the crowd one minute, losing herself in the moment the next. She thanks the crowd for coming and someone quite rightly shouts back ‘No! Thank you!’.
Personal favourite ‘City’s Full’ is delivered with all the raw power of a band who really believe in themselves and you can see in the performance that they love what they are doing.
A couple of songs later and we have a beautiful cover of American protopunk duo, Suicide’s, Dream Baby Dream, leaving us with no doubt where The Savages get their kicks from.
Throughout, the lights, sound and Jehnny’s prowling combine to give you a full on up to the minute post-punk smack in the jaw. As the intensity increases, ‘Hit Me’ see’s Jehnny banging her head repeatedly into the speaker stack, and even when the mic stops working at the start of ‘Husbands’ the edge is maintained. Many groups would have gone to pieces at this stage, but, the band just effortlessly slip into an extended instrumental, and as soon as it fires back up we are treated to one hell of a vocal.
Then all too soon it’s over, final track, ‘Fuckers’, leaves little to the imagination as it delivers its message. The band leave the stage and the lights go up.
I said earlier, ‘Silence Yourself’ is my best album of the year, I’d like to add to that and say that this was, by far, the best gig I’ve seen this year.
The Savages have now left the UK and are taking their selves around the globe – I hope the rest of the world are ready and personally can’t wait for their return.
The Savages are: Jehnny Beth (vocals), Gemma Thompson (guitar), Ayşe Hassan (bass), Fay Milton (drums)
The Vox is at Craven Gate, Leeds – www.voxleeds.com/
- I Am Here,
- Shut Up,
- I Need Something New,
- City’s Full,
- Waiting for a Sign,
- Dream Baby Dream,
- She Will,
- No Face,
- Hit Me,