LIVE REVIEW: Grey Hairs, Savak, The Unit Ama @ The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle (17.05.18) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Grey Hairs

This was The Unit Ama’s first gig in a long time, and they were remarkable. Switching seamlessly from bursts of dismantled, improvised noise to gorgeous post-rock tinged songs, their music newly imbued with the folk music that singer/guitarist Steve Malley is so immersed in, balladry married to an almost psychedelic, Lucifer Sam pulse, a fluid, exploratory guitar band who owe as much to Shirley Collins as they do The Minutemen.  Charming, unassuming NYC four-piece Savak play indie rock, although at times it’s almost power pop in its catchy simplicity. But this is band with a fearsome past (Obits! Holy Fuck! The Make Up!) and they’re really not fucking about – they play fast and hard, without ever sacrificing the melodic strength of their songs. The tunes fly past in a blur and they’re clearly still in love with playing live.

Grey Hairs have taken a long time to make it up the A1 from Nottingham but our patience was repaid with a short, furious set of sweaty garage punk that transported me back to some Camden hellhole at the turn of the nineties. Grey Hairs are intentionally generic and not afraid of betraying their influences – The Wipers, Mudhoney, Speedo – but they bring a rarely seen level of skill and invention to this most sloppy of styles, all of them playing out of their skins while frontman James contorts and beseeches and lurches like a man still throroughly possessed by punk rock. The closing double-whammy of The Chin 1 and 2, with bassist Amy going full Kat Bjelland on vocals at the end, is a ferocious, filthy punch in the guts and a fine way to end a brilliant night.

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