Words and Photography: Sacha Renaud
On their long-waited London stop during a European tour, our favorite French Basque death metalheads, Gojira, set fire to Alexandra Palace, literally. LDN contributor Sacha Renaud heads out to the historical venue for a closer inspection, hoping to make it out alive.
After two remarkable opening acts – the great British quartet Employed to Serve and New Zealand thrash metal band Alien Weaponry – a white, thick smoke slithers on stage and under the huge black curtain branded with the band’s name, which leaves the crowd with escalating and tangible excitement.
And then comes, still in a dark smoky room, the scratchy intro of ‘Born For One Thing’ with its rumbling drums. After a few bars of what seems like an endless build-up, in a blink of an eye, curtains drop, pyros fire, and Gojira finally takes over the stage for the next two hours. Their entry is so explosive that the photography area remained inaccessible for the opening song, because of all the pyros and FX used that could result in a photographer barbecue party (yes, we take risks at LDN).
But here we are now, in the photo pit at the mercy of Joe Duplantier (vocals/guitar), his brother Mario (drums), Christian Andreu (guitar) and Jean-Michel Labadie (bass), not missing a single note despite the technicality of their music. Their sound was surprisingly good up front as well as at the back of the crowd considering the sonic density of their numbers.
With a total of 18 songs in the set, Gojira show real musicianship on stage in their forever seriousness, only briefly altered during Mario’s drum solo in the middle of the concert where he communicated with the crowd using giant signs.
But this did not make us forget about Gojira’s music and what it is really about, the countless songs discussing the state of the environment and society really strike harder resonating out loud in the great Alexandra Palace. Many times, we felt chills of hope during songs such as ‘Amazonia’ or ‘Another World’ supported by beautiful, animated visuals.
All this humanity came to a sense during ‘The Chant’ when Joe invited the audience to turn into a choir and join the band during the chorus. The show suddenly took a quite spiritual, almost religious dimension. It almost brought us tears to see all those leathered-up metalheads singing their hearts out in unison.
Their latest album ‘Fortitude’ might be almost two years old but still sounds refreshing and Gojira defended it remarkably, as well as the older numbers. They definitely are on LDN’s ‘Must see again’ list and we can only recommend our readers to catch Gojira as soon as they can.