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25 Apr, Thursday
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Review: The Wood Burning Savages – Island Arts Centre, Lisburn

The lights dim and a famous Spiro Agnew speech is projected from the speakers. The room is silent as we hear, “The lessons of the past are ignored and obliterated in a contemporary antagonism known as the generation gap.” We’re in the Island Arts Centre in Lisburn and The Wood Burning Savages are about to make an entrance.

The Derry based four piece take to the stage to loud cheers, opening their set with ‘Stability’, a heavy bass line, thumping percussion and frontman Paul Connolly’s singing lyrics ‘Security’ and ‘Stability’. It’s the perfect opening track and it sums up what this band are about.

We Love You’ and ‘Rat Race’ follow and it’s easy to see why the band have been highly praised for their live shows, winning the NI Music Prize for ‘Best Live Act’ back in April. They have the stage presence of a band who have been around a hell of a lot longer they have and that amount of raw energy on stage is difficult to come by.

After a bit of banter with the crowd, the band play their biggest hit ‘I Don’t Know Why I Do It To Myself’, a fan favourite that has everyone singing along.

The audience isn’t as big as I thought it would be and that’s a shame, The Wood Burning Savages have a plethora of talents and it’s a real pity to see that they’re playing to what seems like half capacity but we’ll blame storm Erik for that one. Saying that, the weather didn’t dampen the spirit of those who have showed up (I do love a pun!) with the crowd, front row in particular giving their all.

It’s an impressive setlist as they continue with, ‘Sisters Of Mercy’ a song Paul Connolly tells us is about sexual repression in Ireland. A huge part of the appeal with Wood Burning Savages is their rebellious spirit. They’re not afraid to speak their mind. “Our politicians are obsessed with who normal people get into bed with… Our politicians have got into bed with the Tories, that’s a bed nobody’s changed the sheets of in a while..” says Paul Connolly.

They slow it down with ‘Lusitania’ a song dedicated to “anyone who is here by themselves. Or anyone here who feels like they are by themselves.” The band are big advocates of mental health and chat to the crowd for a moment, urging us to all “look after each other” and it all feels a little bit emotional. The band have touched the hearts and minds of an audience who are hanging on to every word.

Turning it back up a notch, Connolly  shows off his vocal talent on ‘Freedom of Movement’ before an electrifying rendition of ‘Living Hell’ and finishing up with ‘Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

It’s been a great night and I feel lucky to have seen them in such an intimate venue. I have no doubt they’ll be selling out arenas soon. The Wood Burning Savages are an incredible band with an incredible message who put on an incredible show.

To put it simply, they’re punk as f*ck.

Writer for Gigging NI.