Savages clearly have faith in their live ability. The majority of the material they have released so far has been through their live I Am Here EP. It’s a bold move to first release these songs as unpolished live versions, it goes against ‘the system’. It allowed them to put out an EP without the hassle of the recording studio, and without missing any stage time. They never allowed their stage chops to dull, because Rust Never Sleeps.

Their quickly gathered hype is indicated by the numerous photographers weaving in and out of the first few rows during the opening song. It gets distracting fast and vocalist Jehnny Beth sternly asks them not to take photos with flash. Adding: “We are here to have fun, we are not here to report on fun”. It’s a statement that may be an insight to their aversion to the bullshit nature of the hype that surrounds them, and it’s a statement that would have stopped me writing this review had the rest of their set not have been too excellent to ignore. It’s a declaration that says that they just want to be a band, and to be judged solely on their performance rather than by what any writer can say for them. It’s why their first EP consisted entirely of live material, it’s what they do best and they know it.

The intensity never leaves Beth’s eyes even when she is thanking the audience for their applause. They don’t even wait for the venues music to be faded out as they start their set, immediately creating a barraging cacophony over it. Starting their set the same way most would finish it. Ayse Hassan’s anchoring bass grooves allow Gemma Thompson’s mangled guitar work to rip through the songs. Thompson’s guides her ragged post punk guitar dangerously close to the line of chaos, from the agonised cries of her slide guitar to the quick scraping slashes of “I Am Here”.

Beth sings and moves with a feral energy, locked in place behind the microphone stand but jerking and moving in time with the band’s unyielding force. Her eerie shrieks during “Hit Me” are as affective and piercing as Thompson’s unearthly guitar tones. The propelling force of Fay Milton’s drums push the band into the ending freakout of debut single b-side “Husbands”. Beth’s desperate yelping repetition of the title phrase and the shrill crash cymbal abruptly give way to a consuming silence, leaving The Rainbow audience the task of matching Savages’ volume as they voice their admiration.

They put as much effort into their live performance as most bands would an album, Thompson binds the songs with distortion as the bleed into one another. It makes for a dark and fierce set that a studio may struggle to capture. But they make it clear that you shouldn’t take mine or anyone other person’s word for it, you should just go and see them. It’s their natural environment, where all the hyperbole and hype dissipates and they are left to just play. If you don’t see them, you’ll have to hope they do something as pedestrian as record a studio album.

5/5

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