Komedia, Brighton, Monday 15 November 2010
There aren’t really many words that can do adequate justice to a Les Savy Fav gig; singer Tim Harrington remarked on the jubilant Komedia crowd reeking of “stinky, feculent life”, and by god it was good to be alive. Support act Sky Larkin got the crowd warmed up with a solid set; despite some kit problems for the otherwise impressive drummer Nestor Matthews, Katie Harkin’s soaring vocals and ballsy guitar work (matched by Douglas Adams’ intense basslines) found an appreciative audience.
When LSF hit the stage, nobody knows what to expect, and tonight was no different; Harrington (with wig and shades in tow) delivered an ironic opening speech on self-help, geeing up the eager fans. While the New York rockers have an impressive back-catalogue spanning two decades, seasoned fans have said that the only real way to experience the band is live – and when Harrington leaps in to the crowd in opening track ‘The Equestrian’ and grabs you in a sweaty embrace, it’s hard to disagree.
In any other band, Seth Jabour’s dynamic guitar playing would surely steal the crowds’ hearts, but Harrington is LSF’s ace in the hole. Harrington is a law unto himself; the bearded wonder is a screaming, serenading, tour de force of pure energy that provides a counterpoint to the band’s intense, professional performance. At one point the singer demanded that the crowd issue the “vegan socialist” barman with £1 coins to aid his financial plight, and engaged in a hilariously unsuccessful plea to a burly on-stage bouncer to smile for him to delighted chants of “Smile!” from an eager crowd; this was the work of a man who was simply born to perform, and despite some technical hiccups with his mic, he didn’t disappoint.
It seemed to come as no surprise to the rest of LSF when Harrington launched himself into the crowd and spent several songs there. While Harrington stripped and fought his way through delighted and bemused onlookers, the band simply got on with what they do best – tearing the paint off the walls with one of the best rhythm sections around, and guitarists who intuitively complement each other.
LSF raced through tracks from throughout their career including the likes of ‘Patty Lee’, ‘High and Unhinged’, and even breaking out ‘Who Rocks the Party’ in the encore. While there was an emphasis on material from new album Root for Ruin, there was enough for fans young and old to sink their teeth into. The highlight of the night was undoubtedly ‘The Sweat Descends’, with a performance of the fan-favourite which utterly encapsulated the band; the song was halted midway through the first verse by a stage invasion of joyous dancers that almost destroyed the drum kit, although Harrington kept things going with a plea to join him in singing a cappella.
Just when all looked lost, the kit was fixed and the band stormed through the song with an intensity that belied their years, confirming that there are few, if indeed any, bands that can currently match LSF’s ferocious energy and talent. Harrington was, inevitably, the last man left standing onstage. He thanked the fans, exclaiming: “I could just stand here all day”, before hurling the microphone down and exiting to a chorus of cheers. He could have stayed there all night and no-one in attendance would have had a problem with it – apart from perhaps a sour-faced bouncer, that is.