Gojira @ O2 Academy, Birmingham – 11 March 2017

Spring, having sprung in its customary wet and miserable fashion does bring some definite joys. The pre-summer festival touring season for instance and the fact that Gallic eco-metallers Gojira have made the short hop over La Manche to make their mark on this year’s spring touring collection.

For Gojira, who continue to be a rising force across the globe, it should be an easy task to capitalise on the groundwork put down by Code Orange, and there’s a pulsating air of anticipation as Mario Duplantier drums his band mates onto the stage. The lights are low and there’s a sharp intake of breath as ‘Only Pain’ tears into us like a famished shark. There’s little time to recover one’s senses that it never gets close to happening before ‘The Heaviest Matter in the Universe’ (quite literally) sends us reeling again.

As we are to find out, a large slice of tonight’s set is to be culled from Gojira’s Grammy nominated opus ‘Magma’, and why not? Gojira are one of the most volcanic acts on the planet.  It’s a cause very worthy of celebrating and fittingly Gojira’s other Grammy contender ‘Silvera’ is nothing short of triumphant here.

Front man Joe Duplantier is a man of few words to be fair but he strides around his work space, half stooped, leering and grinning at the absorbed watchers, only stopping to sidle up to his microphone in order to deliver the latest heart wrenching guttural vocal broadside.  It’s control of Gojira’s masses with the minimum of effort. Easy when you know how.

Gojira work in close partnership with their light show and video backdrop, it’s a symbiotic show that truly hits home, creating a sensory tsunami that concusses through us over and over.  It is completely and stunningly effective. Guitarist Christian Andreu, almost horizontally laid back, shares not only his effortlessly and model playing style with us, he also shares his beers with the thirsty pit dogs. Top fella that Christian.

In contrast bassist Jean-Michel Labadie seems to have discovered the secret of perpetual motion as he never lets up in his bounding display. His energy is pretty infectious as ‘Terra Inc.’ and ‘L’Enfant Sauvage’ sends l’enfants fous down the front a little bit nuttier, no mean achievement in itself.

A drum solo full of typically French flourish from Duplantier Jnr. gives us all a quick breather before ‘Toxic Garbage Island’ and ‘Pray’ sweep us all away once more. It really is all we can do to keep our feet.

‘Oroborus’ and ‘Vacuity’ bring an uber-climatic end to a thrilling Gojira show. Joe informs us that the only reality is “right here, right now”. Well, here’s the news, the reality right here and now is that Gojira live are an unstoppable and almighty force of nature. It was a pleasure for all of us that were caught in its fury. Vive le rock, ALLEZ GOJIRA!

Review: Noel Fischer
Photography: Steve Johnston