SEAN NICHOLAS SAVAGE
The Roadhouse, Manchester | May 17th
Crack was expecting a sensuous, endearing, romantic performance when we set off to see our man from Montreal tonight, but the extent to which we’ve now fallen in love with Sean Nicholas Savage is ludicrous. We feel like we’ve been Rickrolled.
Savage’s camp retro-pop crooning is truly delightful on record – sedated bass grooves underpin tracks built from shimmering effects, twinkling piano chords, and the heavenly fruits of Savage’s outstanding voice. Onstage he is joined by a solitary counterpart; a boyish keyboard player at the edge of sight, setting off the cheap, vintage Casio drum-tracks as he tinkles along on the keys. It’s a completely minimal set-up that leaves the whole live space open for Savage to take as his own, and the way he embraces it is wonderful. Delivering deep quivering emotion and a young Michael Jackson falsetto, his voice is sublime; the suavely dressed crooner belts out his impassioned lyrics like he’s begging on your doorstep, gesturing towards you in an act of deepest heartbreak, and it is stunning. But it isn’t long at all until you realise that this performance isn’t quite as melodramatic as it seems – it’s all a big joke, and it’s really, really funny.
In the midst of Savage’s saddest sung words he’s prone to spontaneously screaming, directing his piercing, deranged bug-eyed stare right into your soul. He suddenly throws himself around onstage, swinging his arms (and lassoing the microphone) despite the music demanding no such energy from the frontman, and eventually decides to come and rest at the front of the stage where he receives a small massage from our childlike hands. The farce only continues when the songs are over; after leaving the stage he is later seen kicking a girl out of a wheelchair, and then destroying the wheelchair, whilst sensible Simon on the keyboards abruptly rips off his shirt and floors the front three rows of the audience. None of it makes any sense. Luckily everyone’s in on the joke (even wheelchair girl – it turns out her legs worked fine), and ultimately Savage disappears on a cloud of victory. There’s something funny about these Canadians, but they sure do know how to put on a show.
– – – – – – – – –
Words: James Balmont