The art rockers play their finest gig yet at new 3,000 cap venue in London's docklands area
Cai Trefor
13:20 26th March 2018

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Formerly the printing press for Evening Standard, 2016 saw the opening of this former industrial space as a 5,000 cap venue for predominantly electronic music. Named Printworks, it’s gathered a reputation as of the capital’s most desirable destinations for clubbers very quickly. Gorillaz’ album launch gig there last year was one of few live gigs.

Now, the creative masterminds behind this colossal venue (in this 16-acre space you could easily have 11 more 2-3 K cap venues) have scrubbed up one of its main halls for a venue with a bigger focus on live music. Just a few weeks ago, photos of the exact space used tonight by Django Django, see it looking somewhat like a low-maintained US prison thanks to high metallic balconies looking over a central hall. Tonight, though, it looks like a space for the best band’s in the world; one that will rival the lure of the 02 Academies.

The lack of natural light and industrial estate location of Printworks gives it the air of Razzmatazz, Barcelona; a venue that's also situated far from the pretty historic streets, and somewhere insulated from residential complaints. Printworks is not yet used to the full capacity that said Catalan club is, but give it a few years and it’ll be teeming with life in so many more of the dormant, dark corners.

Where the lights are beaming tonight, however, Django Django are lashing back at us with a phenomenal, colourful psychedelic sound. The art rockers have been handed the honour of being the first to play on the new stage with 3,000 fans at their feet. The fans are dancing with all the might of a group of people who like to spend half their time at the West Holts stage at Glastonbury, and the other at the Glade stage off their nut. They’re a fun bunch, and truly a galvanising source of energy for this thick Irish accented band - who are all dressed in white jeans - to play off.

The show couldn’t come at a better time for the once Mercury-nominated group. To have this gig coincide with the January release of their critically acclaimed third album has helped, to the band’s joy, see it sell out. It's also their biggest UK gig to date.

As a backdrop, a humungous sheet for their psychedelic projections sees them eschew the option of letting printing press background be the focus, which is a decision that works well for them. The psychedelic moving image that, at times, looks like a Dali-esque kaleidoscope compliments the divserse musical output.

Sonically, the well-drilled set is an amalgamation of influences from across the world; multiple musical disciplines are drawn on and reinterrpeted through their own astute aesthetic that's equally appealing to ravers as indie guitar lovers. We hear tight locking vocal harmonies that resemble the psych folk leanings of Grumbling Fur, Latino pop, OMD synths, rootsy 50s guitar hooks. There’s fun to be had watching the band scurry around the stage like they’re in Arcade Fire, occasionally swapping instruments or leaving the guitar to hit on the ride cymbal.

Confident, tight, ready to prove it to themselves as much they are their fans, it may be their first headline gig in the UK this size, but there’s a nagging feeling it won’t be their last. They’ve the quality to become a massive destination band as opposed to a band you might see at a festival.

As they leave and the singer says confidently: “This has been fucking amazing". He follows this by a certain: “This has been the best gig we’ve ever played.” Such bravado is justified on tonight's performance. It also reflects how much of a buzz the new Printworks space is to play, and how rewarding it is pushing themsevles to the outer limits of their ability. Django Django surpassed all expectations.

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Photo: Giles Smith