Gojira in Tel-Aviv: Live Review

By on 27 August 2013
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Photo: Avihai Levy

Gojira at Tel-Aviv, Reading 3

“Somebody must have thought this is a reggae concert!” announces Gojira’s frontman, Joe Duplantier, while panicking security personnel scurry down the front of the stage, “the barriers just exploded during the first song! Please take a step back, someone almost got crushed here!”

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Photo: Avihai Levy

That, in a nutshell, can account for Gojira’s debut Israeli gig. This has been the busiest week in decades for the local metal-deprived punter, as two days earlier saw Anthrax reduce the Barby, a venue on the opposite side of town, to ashes, and a few days later saw brand new local sludge doomsters Guiltville commit similar merciless acts within more intimate confines, during what was only their second show. If the promoters feared that Gojira can’t fill the medium-sized Reading 3 merely two days after the titans’ visit, they really shouldn’t have. While scene veterans were visibly present in both events, it is quite clear that Gojira dwell in a more contemporary zone as kids who look no older than 12 are spotted making their first acts of headbanging.

As mentioned, the packed venue erupts the moment the first disjointed riffs of ‘Explosia’, aptly titled for the occasion, reverberate from the stage in crushing precision creep-crawling. Brothers-in-arms to Meshuggah, on stage Gojira seem closer to Dillinger Escape Plan energy and performance-wise. Duplantier might look like a postman offstage, yet his persona transforms as he commands the mass of flailing limbs below him, constantly raising his guitar skywards as if about to knight all present, while bassplayer Jean-Michel Labadie feeds off the rabid reception, thrown into fits of whirlwind frenzy. It’s satisfying to witness Gojira deliver their technical assault note-by-note without being technocrats; no fretboard-gazing or guitars held chest-high here. This is a full-on, virile assault that at times reaches absolute meltdown, as evident during the blastbeat part on ‘Backbone’ where, instead of lashing into one another down the pit, everybody seems momentarily frozen, seemingly drowning, yielding to the maelstrom. A beautiful moment, as malevolent, machine-like speed turns into hypnotic standstill.

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Photo: Avihai Levy

While there’s a mild emphasis setlist-wise on songs off ‘L’enfant Sauvage’, with the title track dedicated in genuine gratefulness to the frothing-in-the-mouth kids, all albums are represented including the eerie, tribal ‘Connected’ that segues into ‘Remembrance’, later followed by ‘Wisdom Comes’ all off ‘The Link’. However, the undisputed highlight arrive towards the end of the set with “The Heaviest Matter in the Universe’ which perfects everything that makes Gojira such titans; a riff to gnash one’s teeth to, to disappear into, and the alchemical melding of devastating aggression to dangerously-close-to-the-sun, soaring Icarus-like melodies. All material settings become transparent. All present board a flying whale and attain etheric capacities – while simultaneously headbanging our necks off!

Not much more than an hour flies by and the storm passes as abruptly as it appeared, leaving in its wake a sweat-lodge filled with wide eyes and red faces, and a solemn promise to return soon.

WORDS: Avi Pitchon

You can find Gojira on Facebook.

About Kez Whelan

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