savages leaflet

Savages + Palma Violets

The Haunt, Brighton – 7th August 2012

The Haunt in Brighton is a venue with much going for it. Ideally situated in the accessible former bus depot at Pool Valley, made famous by Blow Up in the 1987 Creation EP of the same name, it is blessed with terrific acoustics, a decent sound system and working air conditioning which makes the place bearable even when packed to overflowing. The only down side is the view of the stage, the long, thin auditorium meaning anybody further than halfway back gets to see little more than the odd musician’s head occasionally bouncing into sight.

The limited view certainly didn’t detract the masses from flocking to the venue on Tuesday night and it’s great to see quality new bands bringing in decent audiences. This was the last date of the Palma Violets’ and Savages’ ten-day trawl around the country and it surely won’t be long before venues this size are left far behind. It’s astonishing both of these bands have been together for such a short period of time and have only one recently released seven-inch single between them; they exude confidence and self-assurance, safe in the knowledge that what they are producing is pretty damn remarkable.

As the Violets burst on to the stage, bathed throughout in a fetching purple haze, they blow the cobwebs away with a furious pop-tinged assault on the senses, their music built on some gloriously immense drumming and a sea of tempo and key changes that never fail to keep you on your toes. Singer-guitarist Sam Fryer and bassist Chilli Jesson are the focal points, never still, barely pausing for breath, while drummer Will Doyle drives the madness on furiously and organist Pete Mayhew somehow tries to glue all the strands together, and mostly succeeds. Recently snapped up by Rough Trade, this livewire outfit have considerable charm and underline it by producing one hell of an appealing racket every bit infused with wit and melody as supersonic rocket fuel. Keep an eye out for their progress and try and catch them in a small venue while you can.

Good as the Violets are, Savages are an altogether different proposition. Over the past few dismal years, when we have felt like a lone voice crying in the wilderness, begging for some quality new bands to cut through the miasma of insipid mediocrity that has infected the world, we dreamed of such a band. A band that is able to feed off the past yet produce something stunningly contemporary; a band that lives on the borderline between light and dark, capturing the ferocity, the pain and the beauty of life on that uncertain frontier. How we longed once again to embrace a band that could thrill our souls. If we could have designed a band to fill that role, Savages would be they.

No violet tints here, just blinding white light and flickering strobes, half capturing four women darkly weaving together the divergent strands of my innermost being. Half in white, half in black with a tiny splash of red, they create awesome backdrops of tension and paranoia, perfectly capturing the spirit of post-punk dislocation, driven along by the astonishing bass playing of Ayse Hassan, and marvellously complemented by odd bursts of madness from Fay Milton who leaps up to hammer her rationed drumkit into surrender. All the while Gemma Thompson floods the proceedings with blankets of structured feedback intertwined with rare moments of quite touching subtlety. Singer Jehnny Beth stalks the stage and never fails to draw your focus. Her vocals are the perfect frame for the cascades of sound that bombard your senses. She adds to the tension, building moods, occasionally allowing release, but leading Savages into a crescendo that peaks with the single ‘Husbands’ in a maelstrom of fury and a nuclear lightshow. It’s mindblowing.

Savages are a jewel of rare price. Great music is meant to touch you inside, but this band reaches in with both hands and juggles with your innards. This makes me smile. And stare in wonder. Utterly spellbound.
savages ticket
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