There are two Djan­go Djan­gos. There’s what you hear on their albums, a fat slam of addic­tive, uptem­po, feel-good melody, laced with dis­tinc­tive har­monies with a sweet-sour bal­ance. Then there’s live Djan­go, which is an alto­geth­er more dance-dri­ven, stripped, souped up ver­sion of the above, with a rock­et up its arse.

Art house rock­ers Djan­go Djan­go are one of the bands I lis­ten to when I’m feel­ing a bit down, they’re a form of ther­a­py. If you can’t resolve your black mood, you can at least squeeze your­self in between the lay­ers of Djan­go’s sum­mery waves and float away, or just for­get your trou­bles and dance round the kitchen. Then again, I’ll lis­ten to them when I’m feel­ing in a great mood as they reflect that good vibe back at me, nice­ly ramped up a few notch­es. Djan­go are about con­jur­ing images through a sum­mer fil­ter. Warm­ing rays of hope glimpsed through a blind; a beach just around the cor­ner. But it’s all about the nar­ra­tive going on in your own head, rather than their sto­ry. They just sup­ply the backdrop.

So to Djan­go Djan­go at the Round­house: to the por­ten­tous and spacey Intro­duc­tion, out comes Vin­cent Neff and crew who bounce around the stage, whip­ping up the stand­ing crowd down­stairs into arm-wav­ing dance mode; upstairs we’re jig­ging about a bit in our seats. Those lus­cious Beach Boys har­monies are unmis­tak­able, but there’s no sit­ting back and pon­tif­i­cat­ing on the tex­tur­al lay­ers here, the sub­tle­ty of their record­ed work takes sec­ond place to this megablast of sound. This is Djan­go par­ty time and they’re a pow­er­ful and ener­gy-filled pres­ence, David Maclean’s dri­ving and insis­tent drums and Tom­my Grace’s atmos­pher­ic synths beck­on­ing you out of your seat and out onto the dance floor. I man­aged to catch the band in 2012 at Field Day, and good as they were then, in a tent packed to claus­tro­pho­bic pro­por­tions, this is proof they have made huge strides.

It’s a well round­ed set with picks from lat­est album Born Under Sat­urn pep­pered among old­er num­bers such as Life’s A Beach and Storm. Of the new mate­r­i­al Pause Repeat sounds par­tic­u­lar­ly pow­er­ful and new sin­gle, the 60s-influ­enced Shake and Trem­ble gets a big applause from the crowd. They play Reflec­tions with its moody sax­o­phone bridge. And here comes First Light with its soar­ing burst of a cho­rus “First Light, the fields are ablaze, cut through the maze… get in the pic­ture”, which sends me into a teary rapture.

The set ends with a loos­er-sound­ing encore, and to be fair, they’ve cov­ered a good sweep of their mate­r­i­al. So we head out into the Cam­den night, mind and body buzzing, and I remind myself to keep a check for the the next Djan­go Djan­go tour.

** A very short sup­port set from Steal­ing Sheep, with their new mate­r­i­al includ­ing lat­est sin­gle Appari­tion from new album Not Real. A very dif­fer­ent sound­ing band from the one I saw at Shep­herd’s Bush a cou­ple of years ago. Less folky, much more synth-dri­ven, but still with a mys­te­ri­ous edge **

Did you go? Love to know what you thought…

WHO: Djan­go Djan­go, Steal­ing Sheep, Bar­ney Artist
WHEN: Decem­ber 9, 2015
WHERE: The Roundhouse


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