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SavagesGenuflex
Savages
Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, London
Thursday March 8 2012

 

Savages. The dark side of John and Jehn? That might be a bit sweeping, but the fact remains that Savages contain John and Jehn's singer - Jehn herself - and John and Jehn's guitarist - Gemma Thompson, who also has guitar duties for post-punk merchants-o-darkness Partly Faithful on her CV.

In a way, Savages station themselves somewhere beteween those two bands: they've got the shimmer-and-shudder guitar of the Partly Faithful coupled with the crystalline, but always assertive, vocals of John and Jehn.

Add to that a rhythm section that takes no prisoners, and Savages actually make a pretty decent fuzzy but forceful, shoegaze-with-guts kind of sound. Time will tell if the band can nail its own identity to the mast, though. At present they're a bit too obviously sum-of-their-parts to really have it down, although I suspect anyone who's unaware of the band members' previous might find them instantly impressive.

Genuflex. They appear, play a gig, vanish again.

I don't know if this elusiveness is intentional - part of some grand strategy to intrigue us - or if main man Finn Vine just doesn't fancy getting on the showbiz treadmill again after giving it the full rock 'n' roll go-around with his previous band, White Rose Movement.

But anyway, here we are at the dear old Hoxton Square Bar And Kitchen again (you decide if the 'dear old' is ironic or not) to catch Genuflex in one of their rare heads-above-the-parapet moments.

It's quickly apparent that Finn Vine has been using those mysterious gaps between Genuflex sightings to refine and develop the band. Because this Genuflexisn't the Genuflex I first saw, five months ago and a hundred yards away at the Underbelly. Then, Genuflex were all fuzzy at the edges, as if glimpsed through morning mist. Finn's vocals were a Roy Orbison croon, and the whole show had the air of a lament for a doomed romance.

Well, things have toughened up a bit since then. Tonight Genuflex hit harder, move faster. The music is loaded wih electronic pulses, thrumming and rattling, basslines rumbling in the undercarriage.

Finn himself, hunched over a spotlight, sends slices of reverbed guitar skidding into the rhythms, and lets loose a vocal that still retains his Roy Orbison-esque tinge of rock 'n' roll romance - but now the big O is in overdrive. It's a bigger, badder version of Genuflex that we're seeing tonight. Even the atmospheric interludes (and Genuflex do atmospheric interludes better than anyone) have a gimlet-eyed sense of purpose to them.

In a way, this incarnation of Genuflex reminds me of Simple Minds - no, don't scream in horror, Simple Minds were not always the staid stadium-AOR merchants we know and revile today. In their early days the band were a much more robust propopsition, marrying a certain swooning drama to purposeful post-punk. That's the area Genuflex seem to be intent on invading - and why not, Simple Minds vacated it years ago.

GenuflexFinn's vocal, haunted yet intent, plunges and ascends through the barrelling beat-and-hum of the music, seeming to urge everything forward. Yes, that's the reinvented Genuflex - speeding up, moving ahead.

 

 

Genuflex: Website | MySpace | Facebook

Savages: Website | Facebook

For more photos from this gig,
find the bands by name here.

 

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