Justice and their grandiose live show are made for the mainstream, says Reef Younis.


Illustration by Gareth Arrowsmith


In 2007 Justice were one of the many electro duos that had plugged themselves in with the sole intent of dishing out fists of electro-based carnage. A gargantuan combination of Queen meets Daft Punk, their brand of rock-powered disco was an abrasive, obnoxious penetration of the ferocious kind. Four years, numerous awards and two proper albums later, 2011 was the year they officially plugged those giant amp stacks – and themselves – into the mainstream, with what was a definitely a disapointing second album in ‘Audio, Video, Disco’.

Mainstream. Already you’re squirming, ready to rail and wail that I’m calling them sell-outs. Well, I’m not, because even as early as 2008, the Justice personality was already formed with imposing Marshall stacks, a volume-up-to-11 dynamic and a matrix of LEDs. After all, Daft Punk did robot helmets, customised Adidas shoes, created pyramid stages made of light, and DJ Heroed themselves – to criticise Justice for grabbing the musical blueprint, squeezing it into tight leather and proceeding to kick the living shit out of it would be naive.

In 2008, I staggered out of a sweltering Benicassim tent, partially blinded, deafened and bewildered by Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay’s decimating live show. Last month, I watched them spearhead something similarly damaging in a show of equally superlative power that surpassed their new material and peeled the plaster off the Brixton Academy parapets.

Swarms flocked to the cross in frenzy, and in performances as grandiose and theatrical as theirs, the painstaking love, design and even choreography plays out perfectly in Justice’s electro-rock opera. As a live show, it’s got the same production value of anything over in the West End.

And how we scorned at the prospect of Simon Cowell offering to help those poor DJs missing that defining, ever-elusive factor between anonymity and HMV stardom, but here it is: the ‘X’ could easily be replaced by the ‘†’.

The Justice Cowell might see in his square-topped mind is not necessarily the wiry, sweaty Gaspard and Xavier but rather “Justice: The Event”, but, then, that’s always been where they are most fully realised.

‘Audio, Video, Disco’ may well remain a record too weak for your headphones or home stereo, but their live show, as always, serve as loud, bright proof that you can provide a backdrop to picnicking families and estate agents at V Festival and sustain the cultural kudos of the cool kids of Paris and London. Think twice about giving up on them.

By Reef Younis

Originally published in issue 36 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. March 2012

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