Savages – Trinity Centre, Bristol, 7th November 2013


Happily exiting the rain and entering Trinity tonight in Bristol, I was keen to make the end of tonight’s support band A Dead Forest (whilst grabbing a beer).  The duo’s sparse drumming and delicately looped vocals are mirrored by an equally slight aesthetic on stage.  But their carefully crafted under-and over-tones create a dense and earthly beauty that do well to settle and warm the audience tonight as they wait for a much more impactful Savages.

Tension-building music does its job to gently increase anticipation toward the main act but as the crowd wait patiently, it’s quite apparent of how civilised and calm they are ahead of the expected angst of a post-punk act.  Hoping to perhaps open up something deeper inside the audience, as the band’s manifesto on the website clearly states, Savages begin tonight’s set with I Am HereFay Milton’s pounding drum intro sets precedence for the evening, immediately showcasing the power that is to be expected, with her smile conveying the thrill of a band that is in its stride at the moment.  You can instantly see why Savages have achieved so much in two years and, to a certain extent, how experienced they have become.  Each band member has clearly settled on their role; Milton bouncing merrily on her drum stool and the force behind this 4-piece, Ayse Hassan identifying distinct punk origins through her bass playing, Gemma Thompson rarely looking up but critical in her playing and Jehnny Beth; seductive and alluring behind the mic.

Reading a few interviews before the show, Savages seem difficult and unwilling to comply when asked to explain themselves or their music and their seriousness as a band is heavily portrayed.  But such impressions seem to fit during their live show: for example, Beth appearing open and welcoming during the band’s entire performance, exemplified by her soft greeting to Big Jeff after City’s Full.  Her monologue before Fuckers even seems void of disdain; “Don’t Let Them Fuckers Get You Down” spoken cool and composed over Hassan’s twitchy bass drone.  Her serene French accent also helps a little.

Although comparisons to Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Siouxsie And The Banshees are justified, the visual comparisons that spring to mind are that of The Smiths.  As Beth performs arm swings and contemporary movements to Thompson’s emotive guitar wails during She Will, the two of them together show their strong characters, relationship and leadership in the band, much like Morrissey and Marr once did.

Husbands and Shut Up are really impressive tonight but what is so satisfying about this evening is that the strength of said tracks are heightened by the intensity and prowess of the performance.  Savages state they don’t want to treat the audience like idiots.  And with the smiles, passion and solid execution, performing live is clearly where the band are comfortable to give themselves fully, without prejudice of who is in the crowd but seeing the audience as individuals to make a connection with.  If the music is written to provide “a wide range of emotions” (manifesto #1), then the one I will walk away remembering most is Impressed.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.