"Justice always have an aloof presence up there, but we just don't reckon their hearts are in it tonight."
Disturbingly, there are a few punters behind us as we enter Margaret Court Arena who are busily watching and discussing the venue's security guards. When they notice only every second person is scanned by hand-held metal detector, they shuffle their positions accordingly.
The bar queues are endless so we enter the venue directly, wandering down the arena stairs and through the black curtains that limit capacity. There's another ridiculously long bar queue, GA is rammed and there's only a few scattered bodies in the limited seated up either side.
Up on the stage we see those endless Marshall speaker stacks, that signature cross - it's time for Justice. The French gents - Gaspard Auge and Xavier de Rosnay - wander out and calmly take their positions behind the console. The pair often throw in momentary teasers of what's to follow within the preceding track, and a, "Do The Dance! Do the Dance!" sample gets us ready to DANCE. Scattered randoms up the sides either sit down to suspiciously fish through their pockets or have a party-pash. One reveller suddenly materialises next to us, announcing, "Let's go, ay?" before enthusiastically busting into what resembles The Sprinkler. After a couple of songs he leans in to announce, "I'm gonna go down closer to my mates!"
Safe And Sound is a welcome inclusion - all bubbly, effervescent and upbeat - but overall Justice definitely take their set to a place of doom and gloom this evening. They really bring the heckers energy! DVNO - with its insistent, "I just came here to bounce," lyric - is a highlight in their dance soundtrack. The church-like organ flourishes of Genesis please the worshipping mob.
Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter
The lighting design is a bit on the sparse side when compared to what we're usually accustomed to from Justice. The rostra beneath the duo glow in different colours and there's some moving white searchlights, but it's not exactly innovative or earth-shattering. Stress. The intro makes us as petrified as we were that time we were taken on a primary school excursion to see Walt Disney's Fantasia - the scene soundtracked by Night On Bald Mountain gave us nightmares for years!
As much as everyone obediently claps their hands overhead as instructed during Love SOS, the vibe's a bit flat in this venue. It's also the kind of crowd where you wanna keep an eye on your handbag and think twice before accepting a swig from someone's water bottle if it's offered.
Auge and de Rosnay freeze, in silence, attempting to rev up the crowd and we can imagine this moment would go off at a festival (although we personally prefer this gimmick when executed by Sweden's The Hives). The beat drops. "WE. ARE. YOUR FRIENDS/YOU'LL. NEVER BE ALONE AGAIN..." Cue mass pogoing, punters clambering up on mates' shoulders and helicoptering garments overhead. After this comes an urgent, anxiety-elevating intro with banging, arpeggiated accents then in comes Audio, Video, Disco, which conjures a mini-circle pit that’s somewhat uncharacteristic in response to this style of music.
It's always tricky trying to translate tunes that are best experienced at the witching hour on a Friday night at 9.15pm kick-off on a school night. Justice always have an aloof presence up there, but we just don't reckon their hearts are in it tonight.