A THOUSAND KISSES DEEP – Savages Captivate A Besotted O2 Academy In Black Friday Show

Picture by Ben Dangerfield
Picture by Ben Dangerfield

What better antidote to the rapacious commercialism of Black Friday than a night out in Brixton with Savages?

The O2 Academy show was the band’s biggest UK headlining performance to date and the packed house signalled that this was a band ready for the big leagues.

Walking on to Leonard Cohen’s A Thousand Kisses Deep was a nice touch – a fitting tribute to the great man who passed away on November 7.

But then it was straight down to business as Savages formally announced themselves by ripping into I Am Here.

It’s only when you see them live that you realise how important the rhythm section of bassist Ayşe Hassan and drummer Fay Milton are to Savages sound.

These two don’t just keep time – they are the beating heart of the band; Milton’s pulsating rhythms the very definition of power and control, while Hassan’s bass growl got the ground rumbling beneath our feet.

Songs came and went at ferocious pace, “angry song” Shut Up was a blistering delight, while I Need Something New was particularly moving.

T.I.W.Y.G sounded even better than it does on record, while The Answer – for me the best song they’ve written to date – was a thing of towering beauty.

Milton and Hassan left the stage for a short time,  leaving singer Jehnny Beth and guitarist Gemma Thompson to perform a wry cover of Marianne Faithfull’s, filthy, splenetic Why’d Ya Do It?

“Have you ever been cheated on? Perhaps you don’t know yet?” Jehnny Beth teased in her introduction to the song.

While as frontwoman, Jehnny Beth rightly gets most of the attention, Thompson is the band’s sonic architect.

A stylish but unshowy guitarist, she’s equally at home grinding out Stooges-style power riffs, as mixing her palette of effects to create more otherworldly, industrial or ethereal sounds.

Jehnny Beth is a warmer personality than you might expect from the records, forging a real connection with her audience, urging us at one point to step forward “because we like to see your faces”.

“You are not alone!” she assured us later.

As if to reinforce the theme of Inclusivity, support act Good Sad Happy Bad were invited on stage halfway through the explosive finale of underdog anthem Fuckers.

As the song built to an ear-splitting climax, Jehnny Beth launched herself into the crowd, throwing messianic shapes as she was carried aloft by a sea of arms.

People were still singing “don’t let the fuckers get you down,” long after the house lights went up and it was time to wend our way home.

Savages are by some distance the most exciting live act around right now.

Catch them quick before they start playing arenas.

About the author

Full time journalist, music lover (obvs) and truly terrible guitarist. You can find Matt on twitter @matcatch

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