Friday, 8 November 2013

894 SAVAGES, A Dead Forest Index, Bristol Trinity, Thursday 7 November 2013

No set-list this time (darn!) but this rather excellent sign greeted us at the door... Anyway, onto the gig review...

So, following a none-more-retro October, my November dance card has a more contemporary feel. And encapsulating it is this, my first of 4 gigs in 8 days, in the company of Savages, a scary new all-girl lot, who’ve released a Mercury Prize-nominated debut, “Silence Yourself”, which is full of visceral, confrontational noise, with slashing guitars and atonal vocals, recalling an early Throwing Muses with Siouxsie on vocals. The band I really wanted Florence And The Machine to turn out to be (before it all went popular and terribly pear-shaped creatively), only more… well, savage… More impressively, they seem to be approaching their band as if it were the single most important thing in their lives, as if they were all born to be in this band right at this time. They already therefore seem to be talking the talk, and starting to walk the walk on record at least. Let’s see if they’re still doing so whilst treading the “live” boards, then…

Girl band uber-fan Beef wandered around just as the kids were ready for bed, so we set off and parked up in the cavernous Cabot Circus car park, about a 5 minute walk from this evocative old church hall venue, hitting the already crowded hall just as support A Dead Forest Index were taking the stage at 8.15. An Australian two-piece, they offered some quiet atmospheric slow-burn material with dour, gothic overtones and discordant crescendos. Very like Galaxie 500, the vocalist also veering between a strident style and Dean Wareham-esque warblings. the set became increasingly too pretentious for my liking (silly drumming!) at the expense of the tunes. Guys, it’s possible to be moody and melodic at the same time; even Leonard Cohen wrote tunes!

We wandered down the heaving front, stage right, chatting with a friendly Geordie lad on the way about the incandescent brilliance of early Throwing Muses, before Savages took the blue-hued backlit stage about 20 past 9. Met with a frenzied welcome and a manic moshpit throughout, the black clad band immediately burst into a swathe of gothic guitar noise, heralding opener “I Am Here”, before vocalist Jehnny Beth prowled onto the stage, like a languid black panther stalking her prey. Crew cutted and wild eyed, she cut an imposing, riveting figure as she then hovered at the lip of the stage, leaning over the wild mosh like a praying mantis, delivering her vocals with scary conviction. The throbbing bassline-led “Shut Up” followed, an excellent early highlight, before the dark, dramatic “City’s Full” saw Jehnny show off some silhouetted Ian Curtis-like dance moves, her cropped hair adding to the startling likeness.

Savages’ music sweeps in a whole plethora of influences; intense, twisted post-punk, shimmering slow-burn shoegaze and delicious, dark Goth, coming across like a chiming, resonant Lush one moment, a strident, jagged X-Mal Deutschland the next. Very much a work-in-progess sonically, they however come alive onstage, their all-inclusive “gang” mentality extending out beyond their own confines into their fledgling audience. The slow-burn drama of “Waiting For A Sign” culminated in more swathes of thrilling guitar noise, then Jehnny calmly diffused some tension between 2 front-row punters in the occasionally violent mosh, before a resonant and absorbing cover of Suicide’s “Dream Baby Dream”. The subsequent “She Will”, with a libidinous, almost sexy bassline contrasting with the crashing cymbal-snap chant chorus was stunning, eliciting a mad response from the mosh which moved Jehnny to comment, “you are awesome! My God!”

The Dead Kennedy-like pounding riff and raucous noise crescendos of “Husbands” again prompted Jehnny to compliment the audience response (“you’re better than London! Bristol rocks!”) before a lengthy soliloquy (the only time Jehnny addressed the crowd at length, despite the band’s apparent bent towards sloganeering and manifestos) about not letting the fuckers grind you down and making sure you’re, “not surrounded by cunts!” preceded a lengthy final noisefest, the end of which saw the band, all smiles, take a lengthy ovation.

Damn fine stuff from possibly the most promising English band in ages. I bet tonight an 18 year old will look back on this gig as a real musical epiphany, the night she (likely she) discovered the one band that says something to her about her life. Tonight that wasn’t me, but I’ll be watching Savages’ progress with great expectation. Walk the walk now, girls, don’t let me down…

No comments:

Post a Comment