24 Feb 2016

Savages : Live at Cambridge Junction

Is there any band today better suited to their name than Anglo/French fem-rockers Savages? We think not. Just weeks after the release of their second LP Adore Life, tonight their UK tour brings them to Cambridge Junction where they tear through an unforgettable set of face-melting songs and formidable stage antics. We were there to explore the vicious world of these rock legends in the making. 

To open the show, Savages have brought along their collaborators/fellow noise-rock overlords Bo Ningen. Hailing from London but with origins in Japan, they’re a hell of a sight to behold, all robes and androgyny underneath their instruments. What did they play? We have no idea – no one seems to understand a word frontman Taigen Kawabe says. But they’re ferocious, vigorous, and they give Cambridge a good seeing to with a hefty dose of psychedelic wizardry. 

Entering to an almost empty stage, save for their instruments and a set of blinding floor-lights, the pack mentality of Savages is clear to see. Noire clothing and solemn expressions are their uniform. Introductions are ignored and Sad Person is unleashed, followed by City’s Full and “a slow but sexy one”, Slowing Down the World. Jehnny Beth’s French purr is intoxicating, but her aggressive stage persona is quite the opposite. She creeps around stage like an animal, to the amusement of her bandmates, as cuts from Adore Life and 2013 debut Silence Yourself are fired out one by one.

A peak is reached during the frantic Husbands which is maintained through Evil, When In Love and The Answer, the latter catching Cambridge off-guard with its sudden reprise at the end. The audience lap up the sassiness from the band who in turn feed off the energy in the room. Hit Me steps things up to a whole new level: Beth explores the front of her audience before stepping from the barrier onto the palms of her baying admirers. She walks over the crowd, the whole time roaring her unforgiving lyrics, before toppling down and rolling back on stage. The whole thing feels as spiritual as it looks, Beth taking the roll of religious deity as the people lunge forwards to just be touched by her.

TIWYG closes the main set on a bang before Beth and drummer Fay Milton depart, leaving guitarist Gemma Thompson and bassist Ayse Hassan to build up a ferocious introduction to the moody Mechanics. Finally, the crowd are given what they came for: Adore, Savages’ crowning jewel, rolls out like a thunderstorm, its rumbling bassline powering through every essence of the Junction as its almighty crescendo erupts in a flourish of power and emotion. Beth and co. thank Cambridge for their hospitality, before ending with Fuckers, an empowering and energetic conclusion to an unforgettably savage show. 

Words & Photos: Alex Cabré