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Justice live at Glastonbury: a career-defining spectacle

On the final night of Glastonbury, Justice dish up a show that gives their fans the chance for one last almighty party.

5.0 rating

By Paul Weedon

Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay of Justice perform at an earlier show (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images for Coachella)

It’s been seven long years since Justice last graced Worthy Farm with their brash, frenetic brand of French electro in support of 2016’s ‘Woman’. That album, its associated tour and subsequent live / remix album, 2017’s Woman Worldwide, felt like a definitive statement from a duo that had always made bigger and better their M.O.

For all intents and purposes, Justice had nothing to prove last night. In the wake of their genre forebears and personal friends Daft Punk stepping away from the limelight several years ago, Xavier de Rosnay and Gaspard Augé effectively wear the French electro crown by default. And yet, in their own inimitable way, the duo have crafted a show that not only continues to ramp up the ante time and time again, but also break new ground – redefining the very idea of what an electronic live show can and should be.

Opening with a stellar mix of tracks from their 2007 debut, including ‘Genesis’, ‘Phantom’ and Soulwax’s remix of ‘Phantom Pt. II’ the stage is immediately set for something that feels strangely familiar. Latest album, ‘Hyperdrama’, is an altogether different beast to its predecessors, boasting thumping instrumental arrangements with diversions into rave and techno. It is also perhaps the duo’s poppiest offering, boasting collaborations with the likes of Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker, Thundercat and RIMON. Vocal samples of all feature prominently throughout the set, with album opener ‘Neverender’ featuring prominently as it effortlessly mixes with setlist staples ‘Safe and Sound’ and ‘Canon’.

And yet, for all of Hyperdrama’s instrumental diversions and, often, strikingly contemplative moments, Justice’s live show in 2024 is arguably their most aggressive to date. 

Time and time again, de Rosnay and Augé have dug into their back catalogue, reconfiguring fan favourites into heavier, dancier iterations of themselves, but here things feel even brasher and punchy. ‘Hyperdrama’ standout ‘Mannequin Love’, which features the vocal stylings of UK upstarts The Flints, effortlessly takes its place alongside live classics, including the likes of ‘Alakazam!’, ‘We Are Your Friends’ and the long-dormant Uffie feature ‘TTHHEE PPAARRTTYY’, which makes a welcome return having been absent from setlists for over a decade.

‘Stress’, a staple since the early days, which marks its appearance with the stage warping into a literal siren, has always been a showstopper, but its configuration here feels more confrontational than ever, with a newly added pulsing synth line. It’s a stark reminder that Justice have a tried and tested formula: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, but equally, if you can make it sound even beefier, why not? As such, their re-work of the RIMON-featuring ‘Afterimage’, sees it reconstructed as a hardstyle, crowd-pleasing rave moment, which feels like the duo at their most playful.

The staging is deceptively simple too – in a manner of speaking – with light playing a huge role in bringing Justice’s thumping soundscape to life. Developed in collaboration with Lewis, the moniker of lighting designer Vincent Lerisson, the lighting rig effectively takes the form of a living organism as it descends, bends and weaves its way around the stage throughout the 75 minute set. 

With no traditional visuals to speak of, the show instead relies solely on light and colour to capture the mood, shifting from moody, ethereal glows to a chaotic display of swirling spotlights and LED screens awash with colour in a second’s notice. It’s an impressive feat in its own right – one made even more so by the fact that nothing is pre-programmed. From the music to the lighting, everything is performed and choreographed live, which makes the whole thing particularly stunning.

As the show builds towards its conclusion – a nod to the ‘Woman Worldwide’ showstopper which sees sophomore single ‘D.A.N.C.E.’ mashed up with ‘Safe and Sound’ – the mix is further augmented with ‘Neverender’, firmly establishing Hyperdrama’s opener as a new staple in Justice’s live sound palette. Having already blown the crowd away with a re-work of lead single ‘One Night/All Night’, it seems all but certain that Kevin Parker’s vocals will remain a live set mainstay for the foreseeable.

Four albums into a career that spans over two decades, you could be forgiven for thinking that constant reworks and live reimaginings were a party trick, but that simply isn’t so. Justice’s headline performance sees that duo at their creative peak, brimming with ideas and potential. The fact that they’re looking forward is exciting, yes, but the fact that they can still retool their back catalogue to such incredible effect is nothing short of spellbinding.

The whole thing is an effortless spectacle – epic in scope, maximalist in terms of presentation and ultimately surprisingly minimalist in terms of execution. If there’s one criticism to be made, it’s that it almost feels too big for West Holts, which does beg the question as to what Justice have to do to end up on the Pyramid stage where they rightly belong. 

The show is made even more impressive by the fact that the show has already evolved considerably from its debut iteration at Coachella in April. How it will develop remains to be seen, but if ‘Woman Worldwide’ was anything to go by, fans will have a pretty extraordinary live album to look forward to further down the line.