Chains and charisma: portraits of SAVAGES and Jehnny Beth

Frontpersons of the world: grab your mic stands, your piss-poor banter and inability to look the front row in the eye. Go home. It’s done. Decided. Wrapped up. You will never be as great as Jehnny Beth.

On a planet overrun with beige singers and corduroy bands, Savages are onyx and leather. They’re an amazing feat of style, precision and engineering and a bridge between French drama and British rock n’ roll. They’re necessary.

And in as much as Jehnny Beth – the live persona of French singer Camille Berthomier – is incontrovertibly the red-lipped centre point, Savages must be seen as a package deal. Listen to them on album, and their electricity may be a watt or 10 dimmer, but live? Immense. Square-jawed shredder Gemma Thompson, bass backbone Ayşe Hassan and drumforce Fay Milton are propulsive.

But Beth? She’s something special, alright. Channeling 1978 Siouxsie with a touch more acting class, she’s spit and sweat, black jeans and knuckle-dusting silver rings, chains and charisma, screams and stage-diving. JB is definitely her persona – but she manages to avoid tipping over into contrived shtick. She is not afraid to stare anyone in the face or – after wiggling her fingers in the air to signal that she’s gonna jump – dive on top of it. She’ll wade into the crowd or have it raise her up so she can she missive  from the mount in the middle of the room.

Jehnny Beth will talk about how fucking boring the world would be without music, and she’s right, of course.  Jehnny Beth and Savages are more compelling than the last 20 bands you’ve seen live. It’s done. Decided. Wrapped up. Everyone else is going to have to work very hard to be half as great. \m/

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