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Tuesday, 21 March 2017

A View From The Back Of The Room: Gojira (Live Review By Paul & Nick)

Gojira - O2 Academy Bristol

A sold out crowd in boisterous mood meant that this was an evening of high intensity for start to finish. Securing a place on the balcony early doors gave a great view and a much more bearable temperature for the evenings fun and games.

New Yorkers Car Bomb (5) kicked off the evening with the audience still filling the venue but already a high percentage had decided it was worth getting in early. Car Bomb are an acquired taste, their discordant polyrhythmic mathcore at times a disjointed cacophony. The band are high on intensity and aggression, which is conveyed in their sound. The buzzing crowd responded positively, although they made no impression on me. The band have toured with Gojira a number of times so it's likely that Car Bomb will be back.

Confidence is not something that Code Orange (6) lack. Hitting the stage with a swaggering arrogance that only American bands display, the Pittsburgh based outfit blasted the Academy with their blistering uncompromising hardcore approach. Drummer Jami Morgan is bizarrely the focal point, his screaming vocals and constant coercion to the enthusiastic pit strangely endearing. Amidst all the chaos of a set that was disjointed and chaotic, which I guess is part of the approach, Reba Meyers took lead for the one clean vocal track, but chaos soon returned with tracks like Forever from the album of the same name turning all those on the floor into a gibbering mess. "This is the new shit" screamed Morgan towards the end of the set. Hmmm. If that's the case I may stick with the old. But then I am old!

2016 was the year Gojira (9) really moved into the premier league. On the back of their brilliant release Magma, the band has developed into a slick headline band who have sold out virtually every show on their tour including Brixton Academy. No mean feat. Recent visits to these shore saw a blistering special guest slot at BOA and a show stealing support to Alter Bridge during the autumn whereby all accounts they blew both the headliners and main support Volbeat to shit. Judged by tonight's showing it's no surprise. The Frenchmen were imperious, laying waste to the venue with a set as intense as I've ever seen. The wall of sound these four men lay down almost defies description. Heavier than anything that had gone before, their sound envelopes you and sucks you in. Industrial, brutal and totally absorbing.

Gojira now have a set list to rival any of their peers. Six tracks from the monumental Magma were greeted like old favourites, whilst the veteran tunes from Ocean Planet and From Mars To Sirius elicited the mightiest roars. Opening with Only Pain and segueing right into The Heaviest Matter In The Universe the band didn't drop the pace for one minute. With Mario Duplantier destroying his drum pedals, the only cessation in the assault was due to technical support. The rest of the set list almost wrote itself, with the mighty Flying Whales, complete with beautiful footage of a humpback on the screen behind was just mesmerising. The new tracks sit comfortably in the set, with set closer Pray rivalling a pulverising Backbone for song of the evening.

My only complaint as is my usual beef was the inclusion of a drum solo. If ever there was a band that didn't need to showcase the drumming it is Gojira. However, there are always reasons and as solos go it was decent. Joe Duplantier, who has emerged as a Goliath frontman noodled a little at the start of the encores before Oroborus and Vacuity closed a phenomenal set. Bassist Jean Michel Labadie finally came to a stop as the show ended, having put in another energetic show whilst Christian Andrew never stopped smiling. As the sweat dripped off the walls of the venue, the band vowed to return soon. they proclaimed Bristol the best crowd of the tour and whilst bands often say that this time there was real truth. The crowd were as intense as the band, feeding off the energy of each other. A fine evening from one of metal's most exciting bands.

The Hewitt Perspective:

Gojira have been a favourite of mine since seeing them in the Cardiff union a few years ago, and no matter how much I prepare myself for their gigs I am always taken back by the sheer power and heaviness that they offer up, which, more impressively is never diminished by the astonishing volume they present it with. These guys are the epitome of a perfectly well oiled machine that clearly love what they do, pouring their heart and soul into every album and live performance. Throughout the hour and forty five minutes Gojira dipped into their entire back catalogue providing us with a plethora of songs including The Heaviest Matter Of the Universe, L'Enfant Sauvage, Toxic Garbage Island and the ever phenomenal Flying Whales which satisfied all fans old and new. From the Duplantier brothers Joe and Mario to Christain and Jean-Michel each member of the band showed their skills and tightness across the entirety of the set. Testament to this was the synchronicity in which the crowd banged there heads to the heavy bass laden riffs and breakdowns that Gojira constantly threw our way all night. 

Circle pits and walls were breaking out left right and centre with little encouragement from the band. Halfway through Mario lost suffered a heavy loss of a bass pedal (unsurprisingly) which thankfully was quickly replaced as that pedal is the centre of what the band do. Seamlessly working their way through the eighteen song set there was little time for chit chat, however Joe did seem a little taken aback at to the crowds reaction at one point, leading him to highlight the fact that last time Gojira were in town they had to cancel as they only sold four tickets! Sounds crazy I know, but this just shows the work this band have had to put in to earn their greatness and support... damn don't they deserve it??! 

Sadly the evening had to come to an end but it was done in style with a three track encore consisting of a guitar solo followed by a beefy breakdown and then bone crunching but brief songs; Oroborus and Vacuity. I left the venue like most people present; with a slightly broken body, buzzing ears but with a massive smile on my face which still remains as I write this. Gojira somehow manage to build upon perfection every time I see them, I cant wait for their next visit... next time hopefully in Cardiff.

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