Despite her skinny frame and pixie features, Jehnny Beth, Savages’ front woman, is an intimidating force. There’s ferocity in her theatrical movements. Guitarist Gemma Thompson and bassist Ayse Hassan fade into the background, and although drummer Fay Milton provides boundless energy, it’s very hard to take your eyes off the front woman.
You wouldn’t dare take a picture of her though. There are noticeably few smartphones out tonight, which probably has something to do with Savages previous messages at gigs. This message, also on their website, reads in commanding capitals: “WE BELIEVE THE USE OF PHONES TO FILM AND TAKE PICTURES DURING A GIG PREVENTS ALL OF US FROM TOTALLY IMMERSING OURSELVES.” Most of the crowd seemed to have got the memo.
The first two songs ‘I Am Here’ and ‘Shut Up’ are enjoyable but the sound levels are off, and you can hardly hear the drums. When an audience member shouts “turn it up!” Jehnny Beth bites back with “you can be louder”. The crowd, enjoying her attitude, gives a big cheer.
The band covers Suicide’s ‘Dream Baby Dream’. This provides a change from the fast pace of Savages’ own songs. Unfortunately this experiment isn’t as well received as the material from their Mercury prize nominated debut ‘Silence Yourself’. The song seems rather long in comparison, and there are a few bored and fidgety audience members.
The show is taken up a notch with ‘She Will’ and ‘No Face’. The moshpit hots up, and the band are louder and more energetic. Jehnny Beth jumps into the audience for ‘Hit Me’, and is carefully lifted up by audience members while she screams fiercely: “I’m ready! I’m ready!” She gets back on stage to perform ‘Husbands’ and ‘She Will’. The repetitive lyrics, manic energy and flashing lights make the experience rather cathartic.
The band closes with a new song, lovingly named ‘Fuckers’. “Don’t let the fuckers get you down,” sings Jehnny. There is no encore and there doesn’t really need to be one. The crowd leaves without complaint.
Concorde2, Tuesday 5th November 2013
Words by Nisha Bhakoo
Photos by Charles Shepherd