#Review: Django Django Delivers Electrifying Performance at “Off Planet” Album Launch in Liverpool, @ Phase One


Well, I knew seeing Django Django live was going to be good; but I didn’t think for a second it’d be THIS good. It’s quickly very clear that Vincent Neff (on guitar and vocals),  Dave Maclean (drums), Tommy Grace (synths) and Jimmy Dixon (bass) are not only at the top of their game, but that they also have tunes old and new to match their musical chops.

The psychedelic intro of opening track Spirals grabs the attention from the off, before giving way to a driving tune that (as unlikely as it seems) inhabits the sweet spot at the centre of a musical Venn diagram where ABBA and Devo might overlap.

Who knew that such an overlap was even possible?

It’s a bold move to start a gig with a track so energetic, but it’s move that works brilliantly, instantly energising the expectant capacity crowd.

Right the Wrongs has another interesting intro, this one suggesting it might be just as well played on a church organ, before the rising chords and urgent beat make it feel more at home on the dance floor.

Several of the more familiar tracks are transformed played live; or, if not transformed as such, given extra character and depth, like a fine wine allowed to breathe. Tic Tac Toe is a case in point, revealed here to be not just a brilliant up-tempo stomper, but a wonderfully-layered, theremin-infused slice of almost psychobilly surf-punk; whilst Waking Up is so atmospheric, it could easily be part of the Americana-inspired soundtrack to a cult classic desert road movie.

By the time the band introduce some of the tracks from the stunning sonic smorgasbord that is new mega-album Off Planet, they already have the crowd eating out of the palms of their hands; so much so that Come Down is treated like it’s an old favourite, despite its relative unfamiliarity, and regardless of the change in both tempo and mood.

Golden Cross in turn feels like an invitation to follow the band to destinations unknown – an invitation so irresistible, it would make the Pied Piper jealous.

And so the evening goes on, with the new music welcomed every bit as much as the old favourites.

Indeed, the band seem not to have asked themselves whether any given new track ‘sounds like’ Django Django, but to simply ask instead ‘Is it any good?’ The answer is an overwhelming and resounding ‘Yes’, which in turn means the clear enjoyment they get from sharing their music is a huge part of what makes this gig so special.

There’s a scene in the film Good Vibrations (itself well worth seeing) that catches the infectious energy live music can impart to a crowd perfectly. For a band to do this in real life is a rarity; to come back from technical issues not once, but twice, and still get the crowd back to bouncing after both hiatuses, must effectively be impossible.

Django Django shake the gremlins off and do it anyway.

It also takes some nerve for a non-local band to come to Liverpool and include a Beatles track in their set. It’s a risk that pays off in spades – though I’m not going to tell you what the track was, to avoid a potential spoiler. If I hadn’t witnessed it myself, I doubt I’d have given credence to the idea that they could segue into it so flawlessly, or that they could make it seem perfectly nestled amongst their own music.

Like the rest of the set, it goes down a storm.

I already fancied getting to the Blue Dot festival before I knew Django Django would be playing there; not having a ticket, I’m now thinking I’ll have to tunnel in. It’s a pleasure and a privilege to catch the band in such an intimate venue, and I’d bet my house they’ll be every bit as good in front of a massive crowd in a field somewhere.

And if that crowd as yet doesn’t know that they’re Django Django fans, they’ll be twice surprised: firstly by how many songs they know; and secondly, perhaps even more so by just how bloody good they are live.

No, they’re not just ‘bloody good’ live, they’re absolutely great.

Catch them live, as soon – and as often – as you can.

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