Loud and clear: Gojira live at Black Box, Helsinki

Author John Wins - 21.7.2022

The summer night of July 19 was quite special in Helsinki. The mighty Gojira came to the capital with their concert promoting their latest album “Fortitude” released last year.

The Black Box venue already had a few hundred people waiting outside before the doors opened, which shows the enthusiasm the French band has gained in recent years around the world.

This current tour has two opening acts. The first was a British band called Employed to Serve, playing a good dose of metalcore with some hardcore riffs. The stage was already down for the other acts of the night, but singer Justine Jones had some good time.

Coming from New Zealand, the trio Alien Weaponry already had some fans in the audience. Playing a refreshing mix of groove metal with some songs written in Maori, the band put on a beautiful performance and caused the first big mosh-pit/wall of death of the night. “Kai Tangata” ended their set with more fans than they started the show.

If you know Gojira, one thing you can’t deny, the band has an incredibly artistic visual side. The huge curtain covering the entire stage as things got ready behind it, was a great sign of the visual eye they have. Showing many familiar symbols from the band’s discography, it was the first look at how immersive things would become until the very last song.

A few minutes after 9pm the veil fell and we heard the first riffs of “Born for One Thing” bring a huge sound wave into the ice hall. The quartet starts the show in top form and the lights are unbelievable.

The second song “Backbone” shows why Mario Duplantier has already his spot in the hall of great metal drummers. Intense and groovy. The entire band covered by red light.

When the third hit of the night came with Magma’s masterpiece “Stranded”, the mesmerizing riff was illustrated by countless pixels on the big screen behind the group. In fact, “Stranded” was a nice heavy warm-up for “Flying Whales”, splitting the crowd into two pieces again, being a good exercise for the headbangers to enjoy the mosh-pit with a great live soundtrack.

Photo by Errick Easterday

At this point in the show thunder and lightning were shown on screen and with his unique voice, vocalist Joe Duplantier performed “The Cell”. At this point in the show, bassist Jean-Michel Labadie’s energy and charisma is impressive. Jumping and maintaining a good rhythm with Mario’s drums.

“Love/Remembrance” was a good thermometer to see how fans were enjoying the show so far and indeed they were. We could see just a few smartphones on the horizon, just proving the connection between band and audience.

Evil Mario had a quick appearance when the drummer showed a funny sign written in Finnish, making it a good way to interact with the Finns, which was an introduction to Joe and Christian Andreu’s guitars have a moment in the spotlight with “Hold On”. Some tapping to deliver a powerful message of how strong we need to be to survive in this ocean of life.

Photo by Errick Easterday

Followed by another song from Fortitude, Grind had a beautiful screensaver to illustrate the waving of hands and jumping in the front rows of the hall. Laser sound effects are already a familiar sound of Gojira guitars.

It was ‘time to open your eyes to this genocide‘ with the catchy riff from “Silvera” where the Duplantier bros are taking control of the situation, especially with the sequel “Another World” and the classic “L’Enfant Sauvage“.

Toxic Garbage Island” from “The Way of All Flesh”, released in 2008, is a song without many words, but enough to let the flow consume the whole place in a pleasant way. Another interesting moment was when Joe organized a choir with thousand voices to play “The Chant“, ending it with a rain of paper inside the Black Box. Very different experience from the psychedelic vibe of “The Gift of Guilt“.

The encore began after a few minutes with another sequence taken from Fortitude. “New Found” and the visual flames of “Amazonia” ended the incredible night with the band saying goodbye a few seconds after the last chord. If the 16 songs in the setlist weren’t enough, at least we’re sure they’ll be back in the future, bringing a new show to make us feel immersed in this unique experience that only Gojira can do in a heavy, powerful and groovy way.

Smiles were visible in every corner of the venue. One more night to make this summer a fresh start in our lives. Long live Gojira!

Photo by Errick Easterday