“You want it louder?”, Jehnny Beth asks. “Faster!” comes the lone response from the crowd. “Faster?”, she checks, “we can do that”.
It isn’t an empty threat. They really can. If you want to consider this, a month or so before they release their second album (Adore Life), as the start of the next version of Savages then louder, harder, faster, stronger is a pretty good summation of where they’re at. Louder, harder, faster, stronger, and more crowd pleasing. Although not in a way that should suggest any hint of compromise. Ever since they first appeared Savages have been a band with a crystal clear view of who they are and what they want to do.
Now, it’s just we’re in the happy state of who they are and what they want to do being exactly what the world needs. This is a near flawless performance. A rampaging juggernaut of a show, another rampaging juggernaut of a show, delivered with a compelling intensity and a unswerving confidence both in the new songs and the older ones.
New songs which are uniformly brilliant. There’s a general trend towards something heavier and more industrial than Silence Yourself. The Answer is ominous and grinding. T.I.W.Y.G combines a jack-booted assault courtesy of Fay Milton’s drums and Ayse Hassan’s bass with squalls of ungodly noise that Gemma Thompson wrenches from her guitar. On Sad Person Beth stalks the front of the stage with a predatory smile, delivering the jabbing refrain of “What else what else what else” with an insistence which makes you sincerely hope that there is something else, because you really fear for the person who has to tell her there isn’t.
But there are also more unexpected diversions. Slowing Down The World is all kind of funky, a strutting bassline interrupted only by Thompson demonstrating her ability to re-house squealing riffs displaced from 1980s hair-metal abodes into more modern accommodation. Adore is perhaps the finest of the unfamiliar material. Epic and cinematic, it is a grandiose sweep of defiance, with a fist-clenchingly triumphant chorus (and a bridge which bizarrely brings to mind The Shirelles‘ Dedicated To The One I Love).
The old songs are far from second class though. Hit Me, the one we wanted faster, is violent and visceral, Jehnny Beth ending the song being carried triumphantly by the crowd. Husbands is tense and taut, that helter-skelter rockabilly riff a fine example of Thompson’s adaptability, while She Will remains earth scorchingly exciting. The whole of the gig is quite the statement of intent. New album, new year and their resolution is clear. Savages are louder, harder, faster, stronger and better than ever.