LP: Adore Life by Savages
2016 Matador Records OLE-1076-1
Favorite Track: Sad Person (but The Answer live)
Here I am again reviewing the Savages. I wish I could do this every night. I am in awe about this band. You must go see them live. They reach deep inside you, pluck the most vital organs and nerves, and spread a feeling of being welcome throughout your soul. Let them in.
I arrived at the show late, in my work clothes and dress shoes, and a bit winded running four city blocks. Yes, I ran to the show. Also, I have never been to the Taft Ballroom before so when I heard the grinding opening notes of City’s Full start while the attendees scanned my ticket, I considered just running straight past them. They were older and I doubt (but maybe be surprised?) that they could catch me. Down the stairs I went and bam! there stood the Savages on a raised stage surrounded by people reaching for them. Ayse was just smiling and playing her bass with measured control, fingers sliding up and down the neck like forked lightning. I pushed through the crowd till I found my friends right at the front, Jehnny Beth right in front of me looking down with those intense face of hers. (I love it when she sings No Face. Her face is wields a lot of power, almost as if she was an actress, and is easily a face that stands out from the crowd.)
Speaking of Jehnny Beth, I heard many people talking after the show about how she changed their lives. One friend claimed she fell in love when Jehnny looked right at her and sang When in Love. It’s true. Jehnny’s stage performance (or maybe it is just who she is and it shines out twofold while she is on stage) makes everyone feel welcome and included: she shakes people’s hands, she stares with those beautiful and haunted eyes directly at you, she keeps her face still and calm but will break down and laugh every now and then, and she embodies the noise and music her bandmates create around her. It is impossible not to feel elevated heights of emotions. Even listening to their records is like a needle scratching dust away from the groove. The acute introspection leads to a clearer glass reflection.
She also does all this in some high heels. I went dancing in high heels once in college. My feet were bleeding. I could still dance like the maniac I am but there was definitely a challenge to it and perhaps a fear of turning my ankle.
The set list was different in order from the show I saw in Cleveland. They did not play Evil or I am Here, but played Shut Up. No criticism here because I looked up their ridiculously long tour schedule for this year, but they were a smidgen less energetic than in Cleveland. Plus the Grog Shop’s low ceiling lead to more of Jehnny’s stage-diving antics whereas the Taft Ballroom’s high-ceiling gave the venue a sense of openness like a stadium show. Jehnny still dove into the crowd: first being carried out on her knees while she sang pointing at people, then she fell back and drifted back to the stage. So, yes, they were still ferocious in Cincy.
Once again, The Answer is just so incredibly powerful. Gemma Thompson’s guitar work rips the airs apart, each note a savage tearing of sonic structures. Fay Milton smiled a couple of times as I jumped up thrusting my fist into the ear. T.I.W.Y.G. sounded better in Cincy then Cleveland: they have harvested its raw power into a fantastic finisher with crazy lights casting you in dark shadows, then blinding you to a greater light as if you were under attack by bombardment. They dedicated a song to Alan Vega, who recently passed and traveled to another planet according to Jehnny, but I am surprised they didn’t play their cover of Dream Baby Dream.
Adore was breathtaking. “Maybe I will die maybe tomorrow so I need to say / I adore life.”