Review and photos – Savages at the Biltmore Cabaret, Vancouver, Sept 24 2013
– review by Shawn Conner/photos by Kirk Chantraine
Riding in on a wave of hype, Savages played the Biltmore Cabaret Tuesday night.
The show, sold-out weeks in advance, was shoulder-to-shoulder as the UK post-punk act made its first Vancouver appearance. The group is on tour for its acclaimed debut, Silence Yourself.
Borrowing liberally from ’80s postpunk greats like Gang of Four, Au Pairs and Joy Division, the band struck a furious note thanks to snarling, shorn lead singer Jehnny Beth. With propulsive bass from Ayse Hassan and effects-laden guitar (via a trove of pedals) from Gemma Thompson, songs like “Husbands” and “Flying to Berlin” achieved dynamics barely hinted at on record.
But the band’s real weapon is drummer Fay Milton, who beat furiously at her kit and who, through her energy, raised the show to its most memorable heights.
Stage banter was at a minimum as the black-clad Savages went about its business for over an hour. There was one notable remark from Beth, however. Introducing a song called “Fuckers”, she dedicated it to Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Just the night before, the Montreal band had won the Polaris Prize (Canada’s equivalent of the UK’s Mercury Prize – which Savages is up for, btw) for its fourth album, Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
It was unclear whether Beth was dedicating it to the group for winning the prize, for ignoring the gala and presentation or for its controversial statement earlier in the day saying it rejected the whole premise of the awards show and was donating its money to buying instruments for music programs in Quebec prisons.
If the latter, it seems kind of odd to dedicate a song about not letting “the fuckers grind you down” to the band. In other words, don’t let the fuckers grind you down by giving you $30,000 for making an album critics decided was the best of the year?
With “fuckers” like that, who needs friends?
More Savages Vancouver photos: