There’s been quite a buzz surrounding Savages over the last few months and this is evident from the packed room I entered at The Rainbow in Birmingham on Tuesday night. I first heard their single, Husbands, earlier this year as it was getting some airplay on BBC 6Music and I liked it instantly. Plenty of online endorsement and festival appearances followed and the music media were hyperbolising a new wave of post punk spearheaded by this all-female foursome. I don’t usually succumb to hype but I was definitely interested and looked forward to them announcing a local live date after seeing the band appear on Later With Jools just a few weeks ago. And here we are…
The band enter the stage, straightfaced and all dressed in black – I like the look! Barely a word is spoken and the first song is loud and intense and I find them quite captivating. Pulsating basslines, echoey vocals, ringing guitars and tribal-esque drumming and I can’t help but be reminded of Joy Division. Some may view this comparison as a lazy cliche and it could be one that the band are already tired of but sometimes it’s too blatant to ignore; even down to the jerky dance moves, cropped hair and thousand yard stare of vocalist Jehnny Beth. However, I can also detect other influences, such as Siouxsie and The Slits, but Savages produce a much more polished sound.
The band seem to fly through their relatively short set (they’ve only been together for a year) with just a small break after the first song, during which Jehnny spikily requests that the photographers turn off their flashes, “We are here to have fun, not record fun!”
As the set progresses I hear elements of punk, goth, new-wave and post-punk combined with style and energy. I enjoyed most of it but felt my attention wane slightly as the show continued. I’m not sure if this was because I was unfamiliar with all of their material or if I just longed for a bit more variation. Then my attention was grabbed again with a particularly punchy, groove-laden song which really upped the ante once more.
Savages ended the short set with the noisy but catchy Husbands and the male-dominated crowd definitely appreciated what they’d seen and heard. I like the band’s arty, frantic version of post-punk and look forward to their first full length album when it’s released. I just hope they give us that variation in sound I felt was lacking mid-way through the gig.
Review by Eleanor Lawton
Photos by Steve Gerrard