Live Review: Django Django – O2 Ritz – 21/03/18

words by Callum Sheppard

…or, alternatively titled, ‘Gigs 101: How To Put On A Fucking Great Show’ by Django Django, Self Esteem and Man of Moon.

Seeing any band for the first time, having listened to them for years previous, can always manage to be a daunting prospect. Anyone will tell you that. You need to consider how they transform themselves on stage from the studio sounds they put out to the world. A transformation of any manner is something wondrous, especially when it reconfigures your perceived ideas about a group. The strangely spacious O2 Ritz can often feel like a venue that has to win you over gradually, yet when the story on stage is of such a high standard, you forget your surroundings. Django Django might not have started off silently a few years back, with a debut album that seemed to be everywhere (and rightfully so), yet in early 2018 they have every reason to be quietly confident in a synth-infused future with themselves right at the top.

Even with the two supports differing in certain aspects from the headline group, it was one of the more complete shows I’ve ever been to. Man of Moon, a Scottish two-piece barely older than myself were the first victorious warriors of the night, playing a hectic and grubby style of rock to a sadly lacking crowd. However, it would be the mesmerising voice of Self Esteem that would be the first truly epic moment in a series of brilliant ones to help the evening through to its conclusion. I wonder sometimes why I write about music and it’s an unbelievably refreshing feeling seeing a group of people really take full control of a crowd for the brief time they’re on. A concoction of effortless drumming and harmonious vocals in an anything but timid fashion – all detailing just why Rebecca Taylor of Slow Club fame was an honestly perfect support for the Djangos’ party to come.

When I say party, I mean a full-on fiesta. You couldn’t fault what they’d come to Manchester to do. It was something that everyone was involved in, from the moment they brought Taylor back out to perform their collab ‘Surface to Air’ from latest album Marble Skies to the point where the intro of ‘WOR’ kicked off a pre-encore frenzy of moving bodies, clapping hands and an unrelenting group of musicians hellbent on causing beautiful, beautiful chaos. From an artistic viewpoint, the whole show could be a Turner Prize winner. If you couldn’t tell from their album covers, they love the abstract and it transforms the backdrop (depending on which song they’re playing) into a luscious, unworldly cavern.

You could understand if the band didn’t want to fall back on past successes in playing some of their older and perhaps more-known tracks early on. They slowly take gentle dips into their back catalogue, reaching far into their 2012 debut for ‘Waveforms’. The night takes an extra step up though when the double helping of highlight ‘Skies Over Cairo’ and eventually ‘Default’ send those already grooving into light pandemonium. It’s always wonderful that the former, especially live in a greater capacity, still sounds like the soundtrack to a level of Crash Bandicoot.

Maintaining this inherent ability to bring the music you’ve created to life to over a thousand people is no small feat. I’ve been to gigs before that only really hit the best heights once the main act is near to finishing, yet this was a night when everyone created a fusion of energy – enough to brighten the minds of anyone that came into contact.