It’s now been over 10 years since Justice was providing the soundtrack to many an after-hours party with their remix of Simian’s Never Be Alone, released in 2006 under the title We Are Your Friends. Since, the French electronic duo Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay have been widely championed for their prolific remix work with everyone from obscure French bands to high-profile acts N*E*R*D, Fatboy Slim, Daft Punk plus Franz Ferdinand, Mystery Jets and Soulwax; their edgy videos have bagged awards and nominations galore; and their unique sound was killing the festival circuit. But despite success, their albums have been few and far between; 2007’s † saw their meteoric rise, but it was then only in 2011 they came back with Audio, Video, Disco, and most recent release Woman was a full five years in the making.
I last saw the electro-genius pair in 2008 at Sziget in Hungary’s Budapest, a week-long summer fest where one could stumble off a main stage performance of Radiohead into an open-air dance tent to rave the summer night away: We Are Your Friends couldn’t have sounded better. And here we were nine years later at the O2 Brixton Academy – decidedly less summery, the crowd less youthful, but the same electric energy remained.
Their first gig in London since 2012, it was a real fan-love affair, with the duo’s followers of the last decade having a moment to return to their heydey for a night. Justice’s skill for subtle builds, massive hooks and a gritty electro bite combined with bopping 70s rock and disco vibes was on full display. There was a smattering of Woman’s tracks in funky Safe and Sound and Love S.O.S plus Audio, Video, Disco’s Canon. Clear favourites, though, were the addictive falsetto vocals and move-your-feet rhythm of D.A.N.C.E and the boldly ambitious Genesis. The blistering dirty beat of Waters of Nazareth intertwined with We Are Your Friends sent the crowd into a frenzy.
The slightly sparse track base was more than made up for in spectacular lighting design: light screens that manoeuvred and recreated the stage space for each track, stunning visuals dancing across them, at moments replicating a mesmerising starry-night sky, and exact-timed beams shooting out into the audience. And the borderline comic appearance of the pair reflected their demeanour, which is in sharp contrast to the shy techno types stages usually see hiding behind their decks. Striking quite the silhouette were de Rosnay’s skinny-jeaned legs below a blue satin bomber bending to the music, backed up with handle-bar-moustached Augé whose own black and white jacket had “Justice” emblazoned across the back. Both were egging on the fans to give it some, even hitting the pause button for what felt like an eternity as they stood motionless before kicking back into gear, disappearing to reappear playing from the balcony, and in a final moment of showmanship de Rosnay simply launched himself into the crowd. Churning up a sweaty mess on a post-summer’s Thursday eve in London, Justice may have had Brixton Academy lingering in the past, but this bunch of latter millennials didn’t mind the escapism one bit.
By Sarah Bradbury. First published on The Upcoming on 29th September 2017.
Photo: Guifre de Peray
For further information and future events visit the Justice website here.
Watch the video for D.A.N.C.E here: