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Savages live review

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Queues forming on Oxford Street at 8am tend to be reserved more for Playstation launches and maniac Black Friday pandemonium than for gigs – even less so gigs by frenetic, brooding, none-more-noir types like Savages. After all, convention dictates that their music is not for mornings: only a very specific kind of sociopath would set their daily alarm to be, say, Husbands. Accordingly, the prospect of a Savages gig at dawn on a Tuesday in a grimy basement has an air of intrigue, both to the huddled hordes waiting outside the 100 Club and to Soho’s usual morning population of delivery men and media types offering quizzical side-eyes.

But this morning’s performance, it turns out, is neither a time nor place for convention. Savages make no attempt to recreate the feel of an evening show, performing with the lights up and Jehnny Beth saluting the crowd with a mug of coffee and cheery “good morning!” when she arrives on stage. Indeed, the whole experience inverts virtually every gig-going trope: nobody is drinking, let alone drunk, everyone has arrived on time, and there are more phones sending “in by 10am – sorry!” texts to the boss than there are taking photos of the band. “We’ve all agreed that this is the best reason to be late for work,” adds Beth, a few songs in. “When your boss asks you where you were, tell them you were at a Savages gig. You will be the coolest person in the office!”

She makes a good point: for all that staying up late and sleeping in is routinely cooler than being up with the lark, Savages fill the 100 Club with an unshakeable straight-edge swagger that, so early, is initially bewildering and then rather magnificent: the set’s second half, in particular, is a devastating assault of grizzled bass, thundering drums, howling feedback and controlled screaming that would be impressive at any time of day and is weirdly life-affirming before breakfast. The band closes with the James-Bond-theme-in-waiting Adore, by which point the crowd is simply gawping in stunned silence, itself stunning: surely never has the 100 Club, normally host to distracted conversation and clinking bottles regardless of the performer, witnessed such utter hush. 

Beth tells us she adores life as the song squalls out and the band bow. Walking out into the bright wintry morning at 9:30am evokes the kind of poignant perplexity brought on by leaving a clubnight as the sun’s coming up – it’s a dizzying, energising start to a day.