Savages – Classic Grand, Glasgow, Sun 10 Nov 2013
Gloriously intense show from the post-punk foursome
As the frontwoman of post-punk foursome Savages, Jehnny Beth is the natural focal point for both the media at large and tonight’s audience in Glasgow’s Classic Grand. While she’s undoubtedly an arresting presence – stalking, swaying and lurching across the stage, whipping her close-cropped head between alternate cries and yelps into the mic – it’s a disservice to the rest of the band not to give them individual recognition. Drummer Fay Milton is often pushed into a standing position as a result of the ferocity with which she batters her kit, while guitarist Gemma Thompson crouches, coiled, behind a drooping fringe and squalls of sonic interference. It’s down to bassist Ayse Hassan to exert a controlling influence, marshalling the music with driving, unrelenting basslines (and permitting herself only the briefest of bops and bounces to the more uptempo tracks, including the suitably savage ‘Hit Me’).
The intensity of the music is mirrored in Savages’ all-black wardrobe and high-contrast, white-only lighting rig, and even the between-songs stage chat has an element of challenge (when one garrulous punter shouts, ‘Louder!’, Beth smiles and says, ‘You be louder’). Rather than being oppressively po-faced though, this ever-building tension results in moments of untethered cathartic release: closing track ‘Fuckers’ is extended to a thundering ten minutes, with Beth’s repeated refrain of ‘Don’t let the fuckers keep you down’ still reverberating off the walls as the punters leave the venue. It is, as Beth intimated in her brief introduction, a beautiful and rebellious sentiment with which to go into the night, cleansed and revitalised by a band unafraid to take their art seriously.