I went to see Savages on Monday night at Manchester’s Albert Hall, a late offer of a ticket. I bought their Husbands single and the first album but hadn’t got around to the new one yet. The venue is a dream gig venue and the sound is beautifully clear- the drums are mic’d up perfectly. Clad all in black and lit in bright white Savages are sonically separated too, into hard hitting bass and ringing treble. Gemma Thompson’s guitar is viciously trebly and capable of crunching noise and sparkling picked notes. Ayse Hassan’s bass playing is superb, bouncy, aggressive and rolling. Musically it’s easy to spot the influences- Siouxsie, Joy Division, early Bunnymen, PiL- but they do it very, very well. Savages are an intense band and singer Jehnny Beth has presence. She enthuses about the crowd between songs but switches straight back into serious mode for the songs, stops Husbands part way through to check on a injury down the front, tells us one of the songs is ‘the sexy one’ and at the end walks on the front few rows hands into the crowd. No encore. The ten minute closer Fuckers is all that’s needed to send the crowd home sated. If I were a seventeen year old girl- and unless I’m very wrong about reincarnation that’s never going to happen- I’d have spent Tuesday looking for three like minded souls to start a band with.

The support act were jaw dropping. Bo Ningen are a four piece long-haired Japanese noise rock band. Their sound is incredibly tight. I can hear Black Sabbath, Sonic Youth and Can. They are tightly drilled and precise, creating a thunderous, ear splitting noise but can stop it dead in a heartbeat. Singer/bassist Taigen Kawabe plays with miniscule finger movements flanked by a pair of long-haired acid rock guitarists and a bang-on-the-beat drummer. When not singing Kawabe moves to the edge of the stage, feet spread apart, making faces at the crowd. In their final song he swings the bass behind his head and ends playing it neck first, body pointing out away towards the crowd. The guitarist on the left swings his guitar around his head by the strap while the one on the right freaks out. Drummer Monchan Monna keeps hitting the beat. I’m not sure how often I’d listen to them at home but seeing them live was a pleasure.

3 Responses

  1. Savages are *the* band of the moment for me. Their latest album will definitely be in my end-of-year picks as I really don’t think there’s going to be much out there that’s going to better it. I am so jealous of you right now. They’re not playing anywhere near me at all and they are the one band I really want to see at the moment.

    I never got into Bo Ningen for some reason (which is why they’re not featuring in my Japan series). I think I need to try again because I’ve yet to hear a bad word said about them.

  2. Bo NIngen were astonishing. Someone I was with had seen them before and said they’d seen the exact same performance so its very well choreographed but still- mad.

    Savages I find easier to admire than love on record. They were very good live.

  3. This is the first time I’ve had occasion to listen to Savages.

    It’s strange….there’s nothing new or different about what they do – Adam has highlighted all the obvious influences – and yet he’s spot on by saying that (on the basis of this track) they carry it off well.

    Your description of Bo Ningen (and again I like this track for a first time ever hearing them), reminded me of being blown away by a live performance from Forward Russia! when they supported Editors (i think) at King Tut’s. Incredible to watch but thought it would make for difficult listening coming out of the stereo (and I was right!)

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