LIVE REVIEW: Gojira, Alien Weaponry, Employed To Serve, Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham, 21/02/2023
Photo Credit: Abbi Draper-Scott
Gojira are one of the defining metal bands of the 21st century. Their message of protecting the planet is as relevant as ever.
Their alternative take on modern metal has seen their fan base rise monumentally in the past few years, with their 2016 LP Magma seeing them receive three Grammy nominations, and 2021’s Fortitude being one of the most critically acclaimed albums of the year. Of course, this tour was one of the many tours that has been rescheduled due to various issues, but this tour was the first time the French metal bands had taken on arenas in the UK, which is naturally a huge risk for a band, as who wants to play to an empty arena?
Need not worry, as Nottingham Arena was far from empty. Woking metalcore band Employed To Serve kicked off the night to an arena that was filling up nicely. Lead singer Justine Jones’ vocals were vastly impressive and although the sound production perhaps could have done with tweaking, the group did a sound job of warming up the arena. 7.5/10
Perhaps one of the most interesting bands in the metal scene, Alien Weaponry took to the stage. The three piece ‘Te Reo’ band, who sing in New Zealand’s native language “Te Reo Maori” were sensational. Rarely, will you see a band on the opposite side of the world singing in their native language to such a huge crowd that were lapping up every word despite not having a single clue about what on earth they were roaring about.
The riffs were sensational, and despite there only being three of them, they made a hell of a lot of noise. Clearly a lot of people had come for Alien Weaponry as the arena was rammed for their set. As they closed their set with Ru Ana Te Whenua and Kai Tangata, with the latter forming a huge split down the crowd, the seemingly three quiet young guys left the stage to a crowd that had definitely turned a lot of punters into fans. Gen Z has basically just discovered their own Sepultura, and they liked what they heard, and they were fantastic live. 9.5/10
Onto the main event, as a huge countdown from 180 seconds began on the screen, the anticipation in the air was immeasurable. As the signature Mario Duplantier drumming began marking opener Born For One Thing’s beginning, the crowd did not need a lot of prompting to move.
The setlist, spanning hits from 2006 classic record From Mars to Sirius such as raucous headbangers The Heaviest Matter of the Universe and Backbone at the beginning of the set to the legendary Flying Whales, which saw various inflatable whales bouncing through the sky as well as some in the pit.
Visually, the band had evidently put a lot of time into their lighting and live production. Whether it be the awesome animated Another World music video or the lightning bolts throughout The Cell, it was a captivating watch. From a sound production perspective, it was even more impressive. Gojira are famous for their unorthodox rhythms and weird tunings, which you would expect to not be pulled off well live, but they sound near the exact same on record as they do live. A track like Another World has all sorts of weird technical inputs that seemingly will be very tough to pull off live, but how the band manage to pull it off so impressively is mesmerising.
Mario Duplantier is perhaps the one of the only drummers in the genre who can perform a drum solo and get away with it. Especially with crowd interaction in the form of light-hearted hand written signs to get the crowd to cheer, displaying the lighter side of what was a pretty heavy night.
Towards the back end of the set, the band played their latest track Our Time Is Now, a song about acting now on the world’s current environmental crisis which was received very well. The band also added Toxic Garbage Island to the Nottingham setlist, a track that shows just how great a kick drum is, and certainly packs a kick live.
As the encore began with the headbanging Silvera transitioning into the gentler New Found and The Gift of Guilt, with the latter displaying the unreal talent of guitarists Joe Duplantier and Christian Andreu, it had been a brilliant showcase of some of the best of metal music around. This night was the night Gojira strongly staked their claim as potential future Download Festival headliners. 9.5/10
Written by: Joe Loughran
Photo Credit: Abbi Draper-Scott