The French foursome were dealt a cruel hand when it came to touring plans, with their European/UK run with Deftones getting the kibosh, then multiple date changes for their solo headline jaunt in support of their rather excellent ‘Fortitude‘ opus, in a state of uncertainty, (thanks to restricted lockdowns, and escalating touring costs).
So, with the date finally upon us, it was time to rejoice, and truly marinate in the powerful glow that Gojira emanate, when witnessed live.
So, to the venue. The National Stadium has never been an easy venue to attend for such events. The “one way” system they have in place was incredibly frustrating, as well as being separated from the rest of my group do to certain tickets/wristbands that allowed access to different parts of the venue, again very frustrating, but it must be said, not the fault of the promoters, who did their upmost to make this gig happen.
Upon arrival, UK five-piece Employed to Serve were dishing out a ferocious setlist, that featured ‘Universal Chokehold‘, ‘Force Fed, ‘Dull Ache‘, and ‘Mark of the Grave‘. The Woking five-piece delivered a set that was enough to generate some good friends, pit action, all the while, flexing their grip on a new territory and a room full of potential new fans.
Vocalist, Justine Jones worked the Dublin crowd with ease and they responded with enthusiasm, and respect. Let’s hope they return later this year for a run of club dates, so we can see the true power of their arsenal.
Next up, New Zealand trio, Alien Weaponry bring thunderous riffs, loaded with their trademark Maori cultural blueprint. Bare-chested frontman, Lewis Raharuhi de Jong, looks like he’s been doing this for a living his whole life, as he takes command of the National Stadium, and proceeds to pummel the now rammed venue into dust as best he could.
A step up since the last time they graced the Irish capital, Alien Weaponry are indeed a tight, focused machine here tonight, as they rip out opener, ‘Raupatu‘, followed by ‘Holding My Breath‘, ‘Tangaora‘, and ‘Hatupatu‘, which go down a storm with tonights audience.
Having seen them a few years back, it’s obvious that they have been perfecting their craft, learning the ropes and how to hold the attention of bigger rooms and it shows. Finishing off with ‘Rū ana te whenua‘ and ‘Kai Tangata‘, AW leave on a high, and are, to be honest, a perfect appetiser for tonights main course.
It’s been three years on the making, and when the Duplantier brothers emerge through a haze of dry ice and Picasso blue illumination, the deafening, welcoming roars drown out the opening moments of ‘Born For One Thing‘, those long last three years were forgotten in an instant.
Considering the venue, Gojira sound immense. Their perfect low end translated throughout the show, with crystal clear mid-range and balance. Very much “in the zone” Joe, Mario, Jean-Michel, and Christian proceeded to unleash absolute bangers such as ‘Heaviest Matter…’, ‘Backbone, ‘Stranded‘ and personal favourite, ‘Flying Whales‘, and we’re not even half way through!
Considering the lack of production that, no doubt, other venues will be able to facilitate, Gojira pull one of the most intense, and joyfully punishing set lists out of the bag, as they cherry pick from their rich discography. A surprising rendition of ‘The Art of Dying‘ made an appearance, much to the delight of the sold out capacity, and if that wasn’t enough the band made the live debut of ‘Our Time is Now‘, before a barrage of sonic ecstasy came in the form of, ‘Another World‘, ‘L’enfant Sauvage‘, and ‘The Chant‘, which I’m sure could be heard all the way down the South Circular Road.
The final encore of the night saw another surprise with ‘The Way of All Flesh‘, which by all accounts, was the first live performance since 2009, followed by ‘New Found‘, and closing anthem, ‘Amazonia‘.
Bidding their farewell’s, and disappearing into the backstage confines, there was no question that Gojira conquered this difficult venue with ease. Having seen them open for Trivium in 2007, the tiny confines of Whelan’s  to the Academy, and now The National Stadium [not to mention headlining slots at Bloodstock, Sonisphere and Download over the years], the rise of their popularity is very much as a result of their dedication and hard work.
As well as being exceptionally nice people, Gojira deserve it all. I would go as far to say that Gojira will be headlining arena’s in the coming years, and I couldn’t be more happy for them. And that’s just for starters.
Watch this space.
Dublin National Stadium 11.02.23
Words – Oran O’Beirne
Photos – Down The Barrel Photography
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