Walking into the O2 Academy, it was hard to pinpoint an age demographic for the audience, but there was a uniting element. It has become a cliché to describe the DMAs as a brit pop band, but the crowd of bucket hats and slouched hoodies has made the hark back to the 90s almost unavoidable. This is not to take away from the sheer energy that this crowd brought. It is only to say that these Oasis comparisons, that have become so frequent, clearly have grounding in the fan-base.
During the opening act, Planets, the underlying energy of the audience was palpable. But it exploded as the lights went down, and the unassuming lead singer, Tommy O’Dell, entered to a wall of chanting ‘DMAs’. I had some reservations as the DMAs tour as six-piece instead of their usual trio. But as the opening strains of ‘Feels like 37’ began to shake the room any concerns I had about set musicians mediating the grit of the band were assuaged. As guitarist Johnny Took put it in a recent interview ‘We’ve not hired some sterile sounding session guy to try and come in a put a vibe down, these guys are our friends, they’re into the music and we have the best time touring together.’
There were immediately hands in the air and a communal dedication to the band. This could seem jarring compared to the chilled out performance style of the lead singer, but there was a quiet confidence to O’Dell that said he knew the control he had over the crowd. This set list was varied to say the least. I was head banging along to ‘Time Money’ and had to grapple with other enthusiastic dancers at various points.
Yet there were other points at which was I was genuinely moved. ‘Step up the Morphine’ was particularly touching as the stripped back instrumentation and raw vocals resonated ‘sometimes I wonder why we bother at all’ around a room of lifted hands and voices. Their newest album was only released on the 27th April. Yet I was struck by people singing along like the songs had been engrained onto their memories for years. It is this unique and engaging combination of beautiful lyricism, gritty guitar and also a dreamy pop element that is lost in one-to-one Gallagher comparisons. A band that were simply resuscitating a dead era of music would not move a live audience in this way.