Words by Alan Daly
© Olga Kuzmenko
Photos by Olga Kuzmenko
Unsurprisingly sold out well in advance of tonight’s return to the Academy, Gojira’s return to Dublin almost two years after their last visit was always sure to be welcomed warmly. Since their last visit, they released and extensively toured on the back of their critically acclaimed sixth studio album Magma, and it’s finally time for the patient Irish fans to experience the new music live.
As the bustling crowd grows increasingly denser, the crew make final preparations to a stage visually dominated by an imposing drum kit sat atop a high and wide riser. The lack of other props or backdrops is quickly explained when drummer (and founding member) Mario Duplantier takes his throne and kicks off the set with the drum solo intro to ‘Only Pain’. Frontman Joe Duplantier follows his brother onstage moments later, and an impressive light show and fog provide the atmosphere that both complement and emphasize their distinctive musical style. CO2 cannons blast from the front of the stage, dislodging colorful confetti from the ceiling; the misplaced evidence of the very different Circus nightclub the previous night.
The next track, ‘The Heaviest Matter of the Universe’, is the first of three taken from their 2005 fan-favourite concept album From Mars to Sirius, and it lives up to its name if the reaction of the head-banging audience is anything to go by. Another two tracks from the new album, ‘Silvera’ and ‘Stranded’ appear to equally satisfy the hungry horde.
Incredible energy bounces between the crowd and the stage channeled through the tireless Jean-Michel Labadie, who has to be one of the most animated and enthusiastic bass players imaginable with a contagious passion for the music. The overall performance is almost impossible to fault technically, with all four members seemingly at their physical peak, despite an exhausting 25-hour drive from the French chapter of the Download Festival two days earlier. Case in point, Mario delivers an impeccable drum solo mid-set that showcases the heart of Gojira’s pounding rhythm section.
Occasionally taking a few moments to speak, Joe makes one specific request early on, and that is for all phones to be put away and for people to “enjoy the here and now”. To be fair, most do oblige, and the floor space is all the better for it, with spirited mosh pits and crowd-surfing climaxing during the final tracks. The lion’s share of the setlist is unsurprisingly reserved for Magma, but we are also treated to three tracks each from The Way of All Flesh and From Mars to Sirius, and fan favourite ‘L’Enfant Sauvage’ is the only song performed from the album by the same name.
When the finale of ‘Oroborus’ and ‘Vacuity’ bring the night to an end, Joe thanks the audience and admits that “there are good shows and bad shows, but that tonight was definitely a good show”, before literally having to tell us to “go home and go to bed”. And despite the less-than-warm Irish Summer weather, the sweltering environment inside the Academy makes sure that everyone goes home tired and sweaty, but totally satisfied.