Live review: Anna Zurek (Journalist/Writer/Contributor) Myglobalmind Webzine
Photo Credit: Anna Honey Photography
After their short European tour in 2013 and the release of their new album “ARCHE” at the end of 2014, 2015 started promising with DIR EN GREY’s “The Unstoppable Life” tour and not just one, but two London dates.
On 23/05/2015, DIR EN GREY played their first show at the O2 Academy Islington with a line of fans queueing outside that was so long that you could still see fans outside of the N1 shopping centre. Wouldn’t be too surprising if it was closer to the actual start of the gig but that was already around four in the afternoon. And to top that off I found out that e.g. a group of German girls had come to London after already having seen their German gigs and a group of girls came down from the Netherlands only to see DIR EN GREY live.
When the support act, French metalcore band “Rise of the Northstar” came onto the stage at around 7pm, the venue was already packed. One thing that made the band stand out visually (except the big signs in Japanese next to the drum set) was that the singer had his eyes mostly covered with a bandana and one of the guitarists had a mask covering half of this face. Their music reminded a bit of Limp Bizkit mixed with even heavier guitar riffs, a faster drum beat and some growling. Aggressive, menacing, in your face and full of energy. “Saiyan Rage”, as they called their tour, indeed serves as a great description of their sound and had a few fans banging their heads along in no time.
After what seemed like quite a long stage setup, DIR EN GREY finally entered the stage and had their fans roaring and cheering which later on would mostly happen in between songs and also include shouting the band member’s names (Toshiya seemed to be the most popular that night). During DIR EN GREY’s set, their audience would listen and watch the band intently or jump around and headbang depending on the atmosphere of the music.
Most of their songs were rather captivating and inspired a feeling of being in trance.
Kyo’s dramatic performance in which he would move his arms slowly and gracefully or fast and abruptly with a face expression that matched their sound perfectly, only added to that atmosphere. His face expressions and movements showed a mix of pain, anger and sadness.
His impressive vocal range that would go from deep to high notes, growling to screaming effortlessly mixed with catchy guitar riffs, beautiful, melodic solos and a strong rhythm section and together with their stage setup created a rather artistic, theatrical approach to music while the screen in the back of the stage would show interesting and sometimes disturbing images. Compared to older shows from the early 00s that focused a lot more on visuals, their approach was a lot milder and less intentionally disturbing this time.
Although their songs are in Japanese, DIR EN GREY as always managed to bring their message across and touch their fans’ hearts which was obvious once you looked into the crowd.
That evening DIR EN GREY covered most of the songs on their newest release “ARCHE” (apart from “Midwife” and “Kaishun”). Their encore had three older songs: Uroboros’ “Red Soil”, one of their singles “Hageshisa To, Kono Mune No Naka De Karamitsuita Shakunetsu No Yami” (????, ??????????????? )” and ?-saku-, their oldest song out of the set, still from a time when they used to be a visual kei band.
All in all, DIR EN GREY offered an impressive show that night. If you didn’t get a chance to check them out, it’s now time to do so, as their shows are a must-see.
European Tour Dates
2015/5/26, TOUR15 THE UNSTOPPABLE LIFE, FRANCE PARIS, Le Bataclan
2015/5/27, TOUR15 THE UNSTOPPABLE LIFE, HOLLAND EINDHOVEN, Effenaar
2015/5/29, Rock im Revier, GERMANY, Gelsenkirchen Veltins Schalke Stadium
2015/5/31, ROCKAVARIA, GERMANY, Munich Olympiapark Munchen