Josh Savage is a 24-year-old Winchester local who, at just two months old, emigrated to Paris from his hometown. He returned to the UK aged 12 and, having completed a music degree at the University of York, went on to great success touring around the globe and attending festivals he had previously worked at as a teenager. Savage has previously appeared at events such as the Blissfields Festival and South by Southwest, as well as being tour support for artists ranging from Rizzle Kicks to Catfish and the Bottlemen. His recent efforts to promote Sofar Sounds (Songs from a Room) in the Hampshire area have led to him becoming a founder of living-room-gig organisation Sofar Sounds South.
Savage took a break from these exploits to return to Winchester for the launch of his latest French EP entitled Quatre Épines, inspired by his favourite book growing up in Paris, The Little Prince. The launch was held at the Winchester Guildhall, a venue known for its regular hosting of local music, art and theatre, providing the perfect backdrop for the soulful sounds of the supporting acts discovered by Savage through playing shows together or from his own experiences with Sofar Sounds: Richard Maule and Lilo’s Wall.
The venue was filled with tables and chairs complete with candles and fairy lights which created a truly stunning atmosphere, not to mention the impressive turnout of Winchester locals including the friends and family of the night’s performers. First to take to the stage was Putney born Richard Maule who has previously attended the University of Winchester studying Performing Arts. His intense bluesy vocals and hypnotic trance rhythms have been inspired by influences such as Damien Rice, Mumford & Sons and Hozier, and make for a performance like no other. In between tracks Maule elaborated on the ins-and-outs of his journey through Australia, from surfing with his brother to the troubles of long-distance relationships, making this intimate night of music one to remember.
Maule was then followed by acoustic duo Lilo’s Wall consisting of Helen Dixon and Christie Gardner, also from Winchester, who have been playing together since the age of 14. Granted, their stage presence took a little time to develop. However, once the audience had been exposed to their blissful harmonies and quirky aesthetic, in a similar vein to bands such as Haim, it was clear to see that after just one song they had captured the crowd’s heart. As well as their indie-meets-pop vibe, Lilo’s Wall are a band possessed with incredible vocal talent, an undeniably entertaining sense of humour and, of course, the potential to become Winchester’s next rising stars.
Finally, after two stellar support performances, Savage arrived. With a full stage of support, including his own sister Anya Savage on back up bass and vocals, he performed tracks from his newest French release as well as previous EP’s Bella and Spaces with an immeasurable amount of gratitude and a handful of anecdotes that couldn’t make him more likeable if he tried. His vocal prowess was undeniable and the passion he displayed for his music was exemplified by his heartfelt performance, making his set an absolute pleasure to watch.
All in all, the venue, the acts and the community feel were what made the Quatre Épines launch the start of something so special and the rise of fame for these acts inevitable. Speaking to Savage after the show he revealed, “I’m used to playing living rooms so it was quite surreal playing in a place that big and it being full! There’s no place like home!”