Savages are so far ahead of their peers it’s almost laughable. Tonight at Camden’s Roundhouse their show appears so effortless it’s easy to forget quite what a spectacle is unfolding before your eyes.
There was a feeling when Savages first emerged that they were too arty to be fun. They were trying too hard; insisting upon themselves. But this year’s second album, Adore Life, despite losing none of the artschool chic, dispelled such doubts with a dismissive flick of the wrist.
So when they appear on stage tonight they’re greeted by nothing short of euphoria, a sea of black ebbing and flowing joyously in front of them as they proceed to live up to every expectation heaped upon them.
‘Shut Up’ is shorn of the spoken word intro and sounds all the better for it. ‘Husbands’ is, as ever, full of menace and desire. And it’s a desire that flows both ways. Savages exude sex in everything they do, with Jehnny Beth at the heart of it. This is not an attempt to detract from their musicianship, it’s not separate from it but interwoven into every part.
And with Savages, the use of sex seems less a choice and more an inevitability. When everything you do is this seductive it’s impossible to unpick it from your art. When Jehnny Beth takes a crowd walk and repeats the refrain, “Will you catch me if I fall?” people of both sexes strain so hard to raise their arms to her that you fear some shoulders will leave their sockets.
Nothing about this use of sex is cynical. But to be honest, every female band has the odds so heavily stacked against them in the music industry, I’m not sure you could judge them if it were a deliberate ploy.
Back in the musical world, the band’s set suffers no dips, no let-up of energy or quality and nothing to suggest the night might be slowing down. ‘Adore’ somehow sounds even better than on record, the charming nod to the Mamas & the Papas always coming out of nowhere and then disappearing just as quickly, making you wonder whether it was ever really there.
By the end, everyone is on stage for ‘Fuckers’, more a celebration of a job well done than a set closer. Savages have plenty to celebrate, and you can bet they’ll sound damn good doing it.