Live Review: Gojira and Code Orange – O2 ABC, Glasgow – 17/03/2017

Arguably one of the most exciting heavy bills to come to these shores for some time, this marks Gojira’s first UK tour in nearly four years, and with Pittsburgh hardcore trailblazers Code Orange in tow, it’s safe to say that anticipation is high.

Following the release of their acclaimed third album ‘Forever’ earlier this year, Code Orange have now set themselves the task of winning the hearts and minds of those not previously within their reach, and this run of shows represents the beginning of this advance. With such a huge amount of hype behind them, it’s no surprise the now-five piece walk on stage to a pretty full room. However, while there are plenty of bodies, it’s clear that the curious uninitiated outnumber those who are completely in. Not for long…

Opening with ‘Forever’’s title track, this is an ugly, intense, but utterly compelling experience from the off. With so many on-a-dime turns throughout the album’s studio incarnations, it was a point of curiosity whether these complex compositions would translate correctly in a live setting. This is quickly remedied by ‘Kill The Creator’: just as disorientating live as it is on record, the additional synth work provided by Eric ‘Shade’ Balderose juxtaposed against the band’s dense guitar assault leaves the members of the audience, not spin-kicking as if their lives depended on it utterly transfixed.

However, the plot-twists don’t end here, as Code Orange slip the uber-catchy ‘Bleeding In The Blur’ between the boisterous ‘My World’ and ‘The New Reality’, further deceiving the audience and wiping the slate clean of any expectations. A perpetually intimidating presence, drummer/vocalist Jami Morgan leads the charge from the back with the help of berserker/bassist Joe Goldman through the sludgy ‘Spy’, before walking off as the pulsing electronics of ‘The Mud’ brings the band’s set to an abrupt close. Bullish, bizarre, and utterly thrilling, Code Orange decimate the ABC, and if it weren’t for the fact that the best band in modern metal weren’t about to follow them, the night would have undoubtedly been theirs. (5/5)

It’s rare that one gets to experience a defining moment in a band’s career – a tipping point at which the band in question look utterly in command, but simultaneously threaten to deliver so much more. With Gojira tonight, we get to experience exactly that.

When the band debuted material from ‘Magma’ on the Alter Bridge on their arena tour, it was clear that much like Code Orange on this tour, Gojira were reaching out to a whole new audience with a sound built for bigger thing. With a third of tonight’s set given to ‘Magma’, this 1300-capacity venue already feels too small, as big-hitters ‘Silvera’ and ‘Stranded’ are brought out early to a frenzied reception.

Gojira have been one of the strongest live bands in rock and metal for some years now (it’s hard not to be when you have you songs like ‘Flying Whales’ and ‘Backbone’) but it is the punctuation brought by the material from ‘Magma’ that makes this set feel so definitive. This isn’t a band sheepishly bringing out their heavy oldies to appease long-term fans; by pushing the boundaries while maintaining their distinct identity over a series of stellar records, the connection between band and fan is incredibly consistent through the entire evening as a result.

Visually, the band also exceed expectations. While the production available to a venue of this size is often limited, Gojira utilise it to great effect, with some mesmerising animated sequences, slides of environmental damage, and, of course, whales. These visuals reach an epic conclusion during set closer ‘Pray’, as the Duplantier brothers lead a show-stealing extended jam during its climax. Backed by images of our sun and the cosmos, this is completely draining in the best possible way. (5/5)

Despite commercial bleakness, it’s hard not to feel that heavy music still has a creatively bright future on the strength of this show. We don’t need bands to be the next *insert heritage act here*, we need bands like Gojira and Code Orange to carve their own path, and tonight feels like a massive step in the right direction. If you were there, you know. If you weren’t, suffice it to say you’ve missed what will quite possibly be remembered as the lineup of the decade. Unlucky.

5/5

Word by Josh Graham (@jollyboyjosh_)

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