Savages have a mission statement, published in capitals on their Facebook page. Simply put, they want music to make us feel again. Be affected rather than effected. Bitten by sound. Tonight’s Words to the Blind collaboration with Japanese rock rioters Bo Ningen pushes this concept to its limits.
Part art installation, part live act, the show is based on Dadaism, an artistic school of thought borne in 1916 to reject war in favour of translingual unity. Using music to find one voice.
The project follows an eye opening meeting between the two bands. Savages frontwoman Jehnny Beth claims she “found something she had been looking for” when she witnessed Bo Ningen’s fiery show on a bitterly cold Yorkshire night last year. Since then, she’s featured on their single ‘Nichijyou’ and helped the Savages scale critical heights with their post punk reviving Silence Yourself LP.
On stage, the bands stand opposite each other, encircling the crowd and painting a visual feast. Strikingly long hair and beards mix with Savages all female line-up, quite easily the love children of Ian Curtis and Souxsie. As the bands do battle, blood curdling screams dominate amongst thunderous drums, particularly from Bo Ningen’s Monchan Monna.
Eventually the soundscape dies down, and spoken poetry can faintly be heard, unifying the brooding bass and reverb. For those inside the circular stage, it’s a sight to behold. Outside, sunglass wearing, red-stripe drinking heads nod along. Instagram shots get taken. But soon it’s full on noise once again. Jarring, hellish and disorientating, apparently to signal harmony falling apart and world peace disintegrating. Both bands go full pelt, Jehnny Beth swaying dramatically.
All involved have been keen to emphasise that this is not a commercial project, but in truth the night sold intrigue to the sold out crowd. How much it can be enjoyed depends on whether indeed you feel meaning in the music. Otherwise it’s obtuse for the sake of it. And that’s more commercial than anything on record.