Monday, 30 July 2012

Savages, The Cockpit, Leeds

In 2007, the now defunct Observer Music Magazine published two of my letters. One of the letters won me the star prize of a six month subscription to the Rough Trade album club. But it was my second letter that gave me the most satisfaction by seeing it in print. In fairness, it wasn't actually a letter, but a question in response to a review by Paul Morley of the latest LCD Soundsystem album Sound of Silver. In his usual egotistical and bombastic way, Morley more or less used his 750 word limit to list a number of bands and albums of who he felt the new LCD Soundsystem record sounded like or was inspired by. I read the review four times and wasn't clear whether he liked the new album or not. Hence the reason why I fired off the following email to the editor:

Could you tell me if Paul Morley's review of the new LCD Soundsystem album was a favourable one? 

I thought back to this letter on Saturday night as Savages brought to a close a barnstorming 9 song set that would have put Morley's 'I'm going to show-off my encyclopaedic knowledge of popular music by listing every band/song/album I can think of and pass it off as a review' approach to criticism into overdrive. While the band wear their influences on their sleeve - Siouxie Soux, Joy Division, Squirrel and G-Man period Happy Mondays, Patti Smith - their intense sound also singles them out as something totally unique and refreshing when compared with the current crop of 'buzz' bands (Alt-J, Django Django et al).

The relatively low stage in room 3 of the Cockpit, means the more vertically challenged members of tonight's audience don't get to witness the intense stage presence of lead singer, Jehenny Beth, whose passionate and intriguing approach to lead singer duties means those who are able to, don't take their eyes off  her throughout the 40 minute set. Beth yelps and shrieks the band's dark and brooding songs with an intensity that has seen her being lazily compared with Ian Curtis. I have to admit, I did't know what she was singing about, but I got the impression that she meant every word of it. The two stand-out songs from tonight's set Husbands and Flying to Berlin show off the dynamic between Beth and guitarist Gemma Thomson who cranks up the intensity on stage with a wave of white noise. The rhythm section, however, is what takes the band to another level. Bassist Ayse Hassan's trembling bass-lines and Fay Milton's infectious post-punk drumming provide the band's power and what makes it very difficult for anyone in attendance tonight not to nod their head or shake their hips along to the pulsating sound of the best new band in the UK.

Set list

Savages set list

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