June 4th 1976, The Sex Pistols took to the stage at Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall to a small amount of people. In 24 Hour Party People, the gig is depicted with more and more people jumping around the room as the raucous music howled around the venue. July 3rd 2016, DMA’s take to the stage at Bedford Esquires. Exactly the same scene unfolds. It creates a feeling of intensity between the crowd that stands shoulder to shoulder in front of a, what used to be, timid band.
Fresh from the thickening mud at Glastonbury, the Australian trio aren’t strangers when it comes to performing in the UK. What has always been noted is Tommy O’Dell’s static performance that illustrates a shy and anxious character who fronts the band, but his behaviour at this gig unveils an assertive persona who keeps the crowd in his palm as he raises his hands to plead with the Sunday-night audience to give him, and the band, more. A male-dominated room give him exactly what he asks for as arms swing in to the air as if we’re about to embrace the second coming, even if that’s something The Stone Roses can claim.
Their comparisons to Oasis and other britpop bands drift off in to a pool of reviews that write them off as copy cats. Tonight’s performance feels like a turning point in the band’s career, they’re finally their own person and they are steadily pushing their own sound forward. The echoing acoustic chords float to the forefront, allowing Johnny Koot’s standalone moments to feel like a time of warm, assuaging embraces. Despite the curse of the “Sunday night crowd”, it’s hit singles like ‘Too Soon’ that keep at least 100 people reacting as if the music being played is pristine and unmarked, like it’s brand new. Hands fly in the air, arms sway side to side and voices bellow out in the surrounding areas. To many, DMA’s are a brand new band. Right now, they’re a trio who have just performed the show of their lives.
Complete with ‘Lay Down’ and ‘Delete’, they compiled a set of old favourites and album fillers that can captivate and reach out to people who may not know the lyrics. It was a night of celebration, though nobody knew what we was really celebrating. As time ticked on, crowd members would begin to appear on shoulders, pint glasses would start to hurtle across the room and allow those at the back to participate as much as those at the front.
Whether it’s the simplistic chord structure that allows for a good old British sing-a-long, or O’Dell’s newly transformed stage presence, DMA’s at Bedford Esquires has just become a gig where people can say “I was there”. A phrase many want to be able to say, but it’s an intimate gig like this where a band are truly put in the limelight to prove themselves. That, they did. If this night was ever about going for a piss up, it quickly became a night about the boys in the band.