Savages are one of the most exciting contemporary post-punk bands knocking around at the moment. After a relentless tour supporting their most recent album Adore Life released earlier this year, they arrive at Brixton Academy to the biggest UK show they've put on to date. The now notorious status of their relentless energy and sexual prowess that they bring to their live performances is solidified in the immediacy and profound level of intimacy they achieve with the crowd.
They grace the stage in black with a backdrop of white beams of light; it's so simplistic yet feels weighted down in meaning. As distortion builds around a slow drumbeat, Jenny Beth, the lead singer, takes to the stage with her slicked back short black hair dressed in a blazer, a black lingerie bra, suit trousers and blood red high heels. Her eyes stare down the waves of people cheering her arrival, intimidating every individual who manage to lock her gaze even for a second before roaring into I Am Here from their debut album Silence Yourself. "The world is with me/And you're coming for the ride." There's no denying that their fans are already there with the band as a handful are thrown over the barrier, drenched in sweat before the first song is even over.
Savages have the wonderful advantage of their music having a beautiful sense of communion in their lyrics; whether they're exploring the struggles of anxiety of expressing emotion, loneliness, love, sex or anger. The sense of unity and humanity in the audience is palpable as Jenny guides them and urges them into circle pits with a nonchalant flick of her wrist. This is post-punk at its most cathartic and is channelled emotive rage as opposed to the nihilist influences of the bands that Savages wear so closely to their heart. At every other moment, Jenny wonders into the crowd and walks amongst their hands, gracefully gliding over as the crowd reach up towards her. It's an incredibly powerful image, one that combines the power of the individual with the force that carries and encourages them.
Playing through an electrifying set featuring the likes of Shut Up, fan favourite Husbands and the lead single from the most recent album The Answer. Jenny stops for a moment while the white lights disappear from Fay Milton (drummer) and Ayse Hassan (bassist), she wonders over to Gemma Thompson (guitarist) and asks the crowd "How many of you have been cheated on?" A handful of people cheer. "Well that just means the rest of you haven't found out yet." There's a hearty laugh from the crowd while Jenny grins ear to ear. The two then perform more for each other than the crowd in front of them. It's a beautiful cover of Marianne Faithfull's Why'd Ya Do It?
The other half of the band returns under low lighting and maintain low-level intensity with Adore Life's closing track Mechanics, gently winding the guitar melody and bass line to obscurity with its outro before sneaking into the slow-burning and beautifully life-affirming Adore. It's met with its lyrics being whispered by the crowd before the chorus breaks where everyone joins in rapturous unity: "I understand the urgency of life/In the distance there is truth which cuts like a knife/Maybe I will die maybe tomorrow so I need to say/I adore life." They end their set with fan favourite Fuckers, a track that is introduced briefly and powerfully by the lead once more; "This is a song to kick against the pricks, let it out here with us and then give them hell the next time they wrong you." Their set finishes after an intense closer, the band join arm in arm to bow to the crowd and wonder away. Savages are a band far beyond their contemporaries, and this show is a testament to just how much farther they can go in their career as a band. And that's an incredibly exciting prospect.
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