Reviewed: Justice at O2 Brixton Academy
Having not been in attendance at Glastonbury this year, I was able to delve through all the footage from the festival finally landing on Justice’s set. Over the course of an hour I was transfixed by incredible lighting and the duo’s powerful mixes.
By the time Bestival rolled around I was itching with excitement to see Justice. I had even devoted 2 hours of my life sewing a red cross onto one of my old black t-shirts. You can imagine my mood -when news reached me that Justice would not be performing at Bestival 2017. I was livid. Although getting a chance to see Soulwax was pretty awesome, but still I was not satisfied. I wanted Justice.
Two sold out nights at Brixton Academy and we’re cramming through the front doors into the stalls, where Ed Banger boss Busy P is DJing for the masses. The lights drop and the bass starts to hum as two silhouettes appear on stage. The show begins with ‘Safe and Sound’, one of the biggest tracks off of Justice’s last album Woman. The stage set up is truly unique with huge banks of what appears to be Marshall speakers either side of the stage. Whilst in the middle there are three long rectangular tables with analogue and digital equipment on it, this is where Justice hunch over the controls pumping out their music. Behind them is a giant LED screen which flickers their famous cross symbol periodically. The speaker stacks are in fact lights as well as the tables underneath their equipment and more light stacks above the duo’s heads, combining all of this and more spotlights produced the best light show I have ever seen. I have been to a lot of shows in my time but far and away this was the best light show ever. Mesmerised I stood dumbfounded for large portions of the show trying to comprehend the brilliance of what I was seeing.
Having already watched Justice’s set at Glasto, I knew what was coming but actually being there and experiencing it first hand was unbelievable. As I tried to regain my focus the heart-warming piano chords of ‘D.A.N.C.E.’ float into my ear amid huge cheers from the capacity crowd. ‘Love S.O.S.’ followed shortly after, the entire venue bathed in the warm glow from dozens of bright lights shining out into the night. We were then catapulted back to ‘Genesis’, the first song from the duo’s first album – it’s thunderous bass swelling out into the room as the song takes hold. It sounds as fresh now as it did when it was first released in 2007, primordial noises locked in battle with French house as Justice forged their own sound.
We were also treated to ‘Phantom’, ‘DVNO’ and the cavernous ‘Stress’ early in the show from the Cross album. In the midst of the crowd at the sound desk is Busy P, Justice’s long-time friend and accomplice. ‘Love S.O.S.’ is reprised as the duo weave their way through their varying back catalogue. The music judders to a halt and then the recognisable refrain of ‘We Are Your Friends’ begins to grow, within seconds thousands are screaming “because we are, we are your friends” as am I with a grin the size of Big Ben plastered across my face. This was the moment the place truly erupted. Hands launched into the air are illuminated by intense spotlights that rotate at speed casting light in all directions. Wow.
An hour in and the music slowly fades as Justice disembark the stage. The lights stay down before a spotlight homes in on one of the boxes high above to the right of the stage. Here with a mirrored disco ball shooting lights into the audience Justice perform crowd pleaser ‘Stop’.
Xavier and Gaspard then reappear on the main stage to rapturous applause. They waste little time before playing ‘Randy’ which keeps the crowd grooving. Sensing that this Brixton crowd has a little left in the locker, we are treated to ‘D.A.N.C.E.’ for the second time this evening. Justice end as they began with the musical wonder of ‘Safe and Sound’ and with that, they are done. All previous conceptions of what was possible with a lighting rig has been blown from my mind and I leave the venue trying to vocalize how incredible that show was. I still am trying now.
Photo credit: Luke Dyson