Barrence Whitfield And The Savages – Bedford, Esquires – 4 June 2017 Print E-mail
Written by Martin Haslam   
Wednesday, 14 June 2017 04:30

It's often said that you’ll struggle to get people out on a Sunday evening. For me, it's even less likely that I’ll be tempted out by an artist who's appeared on ‘Later…’. Snob? Yes! I watch it on fast forward, hoping to see something great. The exception here is the truly wonderful Barrence Whitfield and his mighty Savages.


Barrence Whitfield tour header


Unaffected by trends or time, they stick to what they love; hard-edged blues with its roots in garage rock. Informed by the likes of The Sonics and MC5, but with the soulful power of Barrence’s exceptional voice, they have honed their sound to near perfection.


Support tonight comes from the newly formed Disorderville. While they are all seasoned musicians locally, this is their live debut, and they admit to still be finding their feet with their sound. Moments are shambolic, but there are enough tunes and charm to win over the audience. One strength is having three singers to choose from, but the style is hard to pin down; sometimes agit-folk, sometimes Pogues-like, but entertaining and worthy of a second look. An intriguing start.


The Savages take to the stage and start playing ‘Wolf Pack’, before Barrence joins them, a fluffy, toy snake around his shoulders. The music is taken seriously, but there's no ego nonsense here. Which only makes him more adorable. After ‘Bip, Bop, Bip’, Barrence asks us to name the snake; Archibald is born. It's that kind of night. The final gig of the tour, he thanks us for “coming out on a Sunday”. There can't be more than sixty people here, it deserves to be sold out, as did The BellRays’ gig last year. But, we faithful few are delighted to witness the live power of Barrence and the Savages.


The band are tight and Barrence’s voice has to be heard to be believed. He holds nothing back; one moment crooning, then screaming, an octave higher. With no new album to promote, “we’re gonna start recording in a few weeks”, they play what they please. ‘Willie Mehan’ and ‘You Told A Lie’ from ‘Savage Kings’, and from ‘Dig Thy Savage Soul’ we got ‘Corner Man’, ‘I’m Sad About It’, ‘Hangman’s Token’ and ‘Turn Your Damper Down’.


As well as ‘Full Grown Man’, we get an encore including a stonking take on ‘Ramblin’ Rose’, then they sign off with ‘Dig Yourself’. Barrence and the band are happy to hang around and talk to everyone. They seem to genuinely love playing, no matter what the size of the crowd. “As long as the audience dig it and have a good time, we have a good time,” said Barrence. Class. If they come to your town, don't miss out. You dig?


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