Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Django Django at Heaven - 12 November 2012

Django Django

I’m rather unexpectedly out on a Monday night. It’s a slight shock to the system. The ticket touts outside also seem confused – they are trying to buy spares for someone called ’Dingle Dangle.’

I’m here at Heaven because this gig was postponed a few weeks ago to allow the headliners to make what turned out to be a futile tilt at the Mercury Music Prize.

First up are Gulp. There are three of them onstage, but so much of their sound is pre-programmed that they effectively have a fourth member in the guise of a computer chip.

Singer Lindsey Leven is dressed in a long black robe that makes her look like some benign abbess presiding over the stage. On either side of her a guitarist and bassist step lively. The bassist is Guto Pryce, erstwhile Super Furry Animal.

The Gulp set is a bit in and out. They are at their best when Leven sings songs with actual words. There is a particularly fine track which is promised as a forthcoming single. However, the default setting for the group seems to be to create a wash of sound with the singer wailing wordlessly over it. It’s not unpleasant, but if they are competing with great non-verbal singers such as Elizabeth Fraser or possibly Bjork, the comparison is not going to be flattering.

Quite early in their show, Django Django pause and give praise to their set designer. He’s certainly done a good job.

The band is attired in black uniforms with luminous markings. The set behind them is a mass of neon tubing and venetian blinds. It looks very effective yet also somehow reassuringly simple.

Django Django have come a long way in a comparatively short period of time and the growing pains are rather evident this evening.

Their musical approach is what I could glibly describe as ‘folk-tronic’. Vocals are often sung in harmony, accompanied by stabs of acoustic or electric guitar. Half the stage is filled by piles of electronic equipment, which one member of the band busies himself with.  For all their futuristic appearance and gear, the band do not really have a dance sensibility – their digital side seems rather undercooked.

The songs are all jolly raggle taggle affairs and the crowd is happy. However, there is a sense that everyone is waiting for the Big Hit.

When it arrives, ‘Default’ is then rather thrown away as the group decide to use it as the backdrop for a ‘meet the band’ segment.

Very tellingly, Django Django acknowledge that they don’t currently have much material. I suspect that quite a lot of what we hear tonight will not survive the arrival of a second album.

Django Django are never less than enjoyable, and have at least one killer song. But you do get the impression that fortune has catapulted them into the big time somewhat precipitously and that they have been promoted beyond their current capabilities.

Not bad, but not great. At one point the band yell “It feels like a Friday!”

It bloody doesn’t.

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