After nearly a two-year break from touring the UK, DMA’s made their much anticipated return this Autumn. It’s evident that not only fans have been pining to see the trio again, but also the band have been making it known how eager they have been to come back. Lucy Gray reviews their show at London's Alexandra Palace.
It’s far more poignant that this time round, the band made their debut at the iconic Alexandra Palace. Hosting music’s biggest names, this show was bound to be nothing short of special for the group, marking both their return to the country’s capital and a new height for the three. It seems an ambitious idea to some, given the tour was generally filled with smaller venues. Yet to have such a turn out for a gig like this only highlighted how much their music has resonated with their UK fanbase, as well as the desperation for their return. This time around also, DMA’s had a new album and EP to show off during their setlist and so saw another level of excitement from fans like myself.
Travelling to the venue, the air was electric with excitement; fans singing on the train and talking about what songs they might hear. This was my first time at Alexandra Palace and despite already being impressed that such a noteworthy venue was on the tour list, arriving there made it far more resonant how far the band had come. It made me think about how this created a new dynamic in the group’s musicianship. By this, I mean they are generally used to far smaller venues, creating usually a different vibe and experience of the music. Therefore, there was something more needed to pull this off and retain the same musical experience fans might have at their usual venues. Walking into the venue itself had me gobsmacked, an entirely different vibe to that which I’d usually experience the band through. Again, the air was buzzing with excitement and tremendous anticipation. To see your favourite band at one of their most iconic gig’s to date, one which will easily be notable later in their career, was really something else. Speaking to people around the bar and hearing how they hadn’t seen the band before contributed even more to the general excitement, gushing about how unreal they were live previously and thinking about how much their fanbase had grown over the past two years.
Moving towards the crowd and settling, finally the lights go down and darken the vast space around. Already the gig is different, to accommodate the venue’s character. Lights play around the space and gradate bigger and bigger, with an opening collation of varied riffs and synths playing, echoing the sounds found on their most recent album, The Glow. Visuals begin playing on the screens behind the band’s setup and build an atmosphere that leaves the crowd just about ready to burst. The identifiable hi-hats of Never Before crescendo as the band walk on to eventually begin the track. The music flows through the crowd and everyone, essentially, loses it. Calm as ever, the band maintain their general cool composure that has seen them through gigs thus far. The contrast between the band’s usual composure and the huge visuals going on worked in harmony to only accentuate the band’s musicianship. You’d think the paradox may be too much but, as mentioned, they accommodated both the venue and their sense of style perfectly. Despite the aforementioned ‘composure’, lead singer O’Dell had the crowd lively as ever, jumping and jogging around with the crowd and soaking up the feeling that had, presumably, been sorely missed. Although I am evidently biased, it really is clear just how much of a part the UK has played in the band’s success and touring. Every show I’ve seen of the three has been livelier than the last, which can be nothing short of spectacular for a band such as this. Let alone after an involuntary two-year hiatus.
''It was great to see their growth in musicianship play out whilst retaining their usual charm that makes for such a great gig''
The setlist is a new mix of songs, and is generally well-balanced, although of course some old favourites had inevitably been bumped off. Since The Glow had a different energy to their previous records, it provided a refreshment to their usual setlist, I have to say. Regardless of whether fan favourites had been missed, it was great to see their growth in musicianship play out whilst retaining their usual charm that makes for such a great gig. Life Is a Game of Changing was absolutely mega. Being one of their more synth-heavy tracks, it really stands out against their usual tracks. Coupled with the venue and additional light-show, it was euphoric. For me, this had to be one of the more memorable moments of the gig, as an existing fan. It was so obviously different against a gig they would have done a few years ago when For Now had just been released. Although changes like this can be polarising for fans, the moment this song played was so euphoric that it really solidified the growth they had experienced. Seeing them play their first-released synth-heavy tracks at one of their largest venues to date was truly poignant; a summative marker of their success.
''Getting to enjoy the rawer earlier music is always a pleasure and DMA’s do it oh so well''
It was great to see fan-favourite Tape Deck Sick had survived the setlist cut, having been only recently added to the setlist following fan demand. Although one of their more understated songs, it’s so notable that it never fails to keep the crowd’s attention and life. It was odd not to hear Step Up The Morphine I must say, a classic in the band’s discography and I’d be interested to see how much their setlists may fluctuate in the coming year after fan reception. Their gigs have seen additions from their most recent release, EP I Love You Unconditionally, Sure Am Going To Miss You, and ode to their earlier records like Hill’s End. We Are Midnight was a great addition and a song that fits a space like Alexandra Palace like a glove. Destined to be a newer fan favourite given its tribute to their early music, it’s likely this will be a song to stay for a while. It’s hard to say with Junk Truck Head Fuck. A great set-breaker, it showcases O’Dells vocals spectacularly, similar to fan favourite Delete, and the band’s acoustic guitar riffs which they have perfected. That being said, it’ll be interesting to see which songs are switched out as their notable ballads and gig-starters as time goes on.
Play It Out saw us into the encore immediately after Junk Truck Head Fuck; a great choice. Never failing to excite the crowd, with its notable opening riff, Alexandra Palace lit up with energy. Getting to enjoy the rawer earlier music is always a pleasure and DMA’s do it oh so well. With O’Dell hyping the crowd and flares going off, it’s arguably one of their best songs to enjoy live with these three. It’s tracks like this that makes me tell people to see the band live; the euphoria and energy that flows out tracks like Play It Out when performed live is unparalleled.
They begun their encore with Appointment, a song that burns slow and crescendos very very nicely. Also a very easy song to sing along to, it was a good choice to get the crowd going again and ease them into the final chapter of the gig. Following came Lay Down. Now, usually this closes the gig indefinitely and has done for a good while I’m sure. So, I found it interesting that Feels Like 37 closed the show entirely. Whilst the former is a killer song, it was interesting since it’s not been too stable on setlists like Lay Down. Amongst the general setlist-cutting, it seemed odd to finish with a track that itself had been cut every now and then. Despite this, Lay Down was as tremendous as always, and Feels Like 37 was a great accompaniment. Perhaps it was a poignant statement to finish with their first release and essentially brought the gig to a great close after starting with their newer stuff.
This trio didn’t just match their energy found in older, smaller gigs, but exceeded all expectations. Easily one of the best DMA’s gig I’ve personally been to, they fit that venue tremendously well and flooded it with the energy and vibrance that they do best. Comforted the three could fill a venue of this capacity with the same as those smaller, it left me excited about where they may next play and what we might see of them over the next few years.
Written by: Lucy Gray
Edited by: Amrit Virdi