Live Review + Photo Gallery: Savages deliver post-punk fury to the Paradise Rock Club
“Adore” is probably the best song Savages have yet to record in their young collective career; the standout track off their otherwise boffo second record Adore Life, and could be the greatest song released thus far of 2016. Oddly, it doesn’t really sound like a Savages song, or at least lacks the implicit command to smash things and fuck typical of the assailing post-punk upon which the London quartet have forged their distinction.
Simmering, down-tempo, and beguiling with the seeming leisure it takes on its way to an apex of utmost gravitas, “Adore” is Savages’ answer to Big Lips McGoo and the Gang’s “Dream On,” a comparable departure for the Boston hinder rockers during their raunched up 1970s, and an undisputed creative highpoint. However, “Adore” is much better than “Dream On,” because “Adore” hasn’t been ruined by 158 years of overexposure on classic rock radio, nor has “Adore” been ruined by any association with Aerosmith.
Also, Steven Tyler can’t belt out “Dream On,” nor the dangerously rambunctious “Hit Me” off Savages’ 2013 product Silence Yourself, while walking on an audience, a feat Jehnny Beth performed with apparent ease amid an inexplicably-not-at-capacity show Friday evening at the Paradise Rock Club. Beth resides in an underpopulated sphere of singers in heavy bands who aren’t weighed down with guitars, and thus, masterfully throttles her freedom with the abrupt mannerisms of an unjustly disbarred philosophy professor conducting a rapid-fire graduate survey on post-human sexual politics.
From a strictly visual/theatrical standpoint, a Savages show is very much the Jehnny Beth Show Starring Jehnny Beth, with a special guest cameo by Jehnny Beth. But that isn’t to say nothing transcendent happened with Ayse Hassan and Fay Milton’s juggernaut rhythm section, likewise for guitarist Gemma Thompson’s moody atmospherics. As “Mechanics” — part one of the set-closing triad rounded out by “Adore” and Savages’ secret theme song, “Fuckers” — emanated from the stage, the cinematic, introspective aura weirdly reminded me of The Wall’s pivotal segments. Savages don’t have time to waste on proggy meanderings and indulgences, so that Roger Waters comparison felt a little left-fieldy, but then again, Pink Floyd was once an obscure U.K. art-rock band, too.
Opener Angus Tarnawsky offered laidback electronica with a smidgen of live percussion tossed in to keep himself unusual. An ideal opening act, Tarnawsky’s wares lingered just above the threshold of white noise without interfering with anyone’s inclination to chat amongst themselves or mindlessly tap away at freemium cellphone games.