It’s fair to say there is no other band around quite like Django Django. Their sound combines so many components that it makes them somewhat hard to pigeonhole into a particular genre – from the jangly guitar of lead singer Vincent Neff that characterises much of their material, to the electronic wizardry of Tommy Grace on keyboards, plus the pounding rhythm of drummer David Maclean, all consistently tied together with the unique harmonies of Neff and fellow vocalist and bassist Jimmy Dixon.
There’s a geekiness about the band that puts them in the same frame as the likes of Everything Everything and Dutch Uncles, but ultimately few comparisons entirely stack up. The picture gets even more complex when you consider the band’s live shows. Their brand of electronica-meets-art-rock makes for a superb atmosphere in the flesh.
Touring third album, Marble Skies, their March tour across Europe and the UK was partly disrupted by snow so this date in Bristol – originally due to be the finale – was to be followed by two rescheduled shows, but even after such a long run, there was no lack of energy in the performance – Grace in particular jumping on the spot throughout from his position behind the keyboard stack.
They kicked off their set with the latest album’s title track followed by Shake And Tremble – one of a few from their second album Born Under Saturn, including the superb First Light. There was lots from the new release though, one of the highlights being Surface To Air, a former Sync Track of the Week, for which they were joined by Self Esteem – aka Rebecca Taylor (who was also on the tour for this show as one of the supports).
There are also of course some of the old favourites, with Default, WOR and Life’s A Beach all given an airing alongside the newer tunes.
Their latest album – much like previous material from the Djangos – takes a couple of listens to warm to. It’s not always immediately accessible, but ultimately worth persevering with since it is lyrically and musically rich and rewarding. What the live performance adds however, is a whole new level of psychedelic feeling which comes across only partially on record. In places – particularly for mid-set Django classic Waveforms and final song Silver Rays – it creates something of a trace-like atmosphere that you’re unlikely to experience with many other guitar-based bands.
This is a group that has progressed massively as a live proposition, as new material has provided them with a more rounded sound and, of course, they’ve gained from the confidence that having three strong and critically-acclaimed albums behind them must bring.
The night before this Bristol show, the band were the first to play in the new live music space at London’s large, impressive and sold out Printworks venue, which no doubt must have felt like something of a career highlight. There is a sense though that there is still much more to come from a band that has achieved a lot so far. Energy and inventiveness is at the heart of Django Django’s offering, and it is because of this that even with their seemingly niche formula, they continue to win over mass appeal.
Review & Photos: Martin Allen