Both Gojira and TesseracT have amassed massive amounts of good will for themselves over the last several years and are cherished by metal fans of all stripes. Conversely with their most recent albums – Magma and Polaris respectively—TesseracT and Gojira have both dug their heels into new styles that have not entirely paid off and thusly they each have something to prove to their audiences.
TesseracT begin promptly and are impeccably professional throughout the duration of their 40-minute set. They come across as grateful and frankly rather apologetic, with once and future vocalist Dan Tompkins saying “We know almost all of you are Gojira fans so thank you for giving us a chance” with an earnest humility as if they do not believe they were worthy to open for Gojira.
Dudes; you’re worthy.
TesseracT’s set is hypnotically groovy, sonically powerful, and rhythmically tight. They play a varied selection of songs from their 3 LPs One, Altered State and Polaris, and it all connects with the crowd, who are increasingly interested and drawn in by the performance.
The three tracks from Polaris pack a potency live that was simply not present on the album, and it was great to see Dan Tompkins back with the rest of the boys because clearly they belong together. Dan’s performance is generally excellent with great command of his material, even including perfect execution of aggressive sections from the band’s early days. He definitely struggles to reproduce the material that was written for Ashe O’Hara on Altered State, however, but nobody else seems to really notice or mind. By the end of the set it’s clear that TesseracT have made a lot of new fans and earned their spot on this tour.
The wait for Gojira is thankfully quite brief as the crowd – definitely there for Gojira – whip themselves into a frenzy, chanting their name for several minutes before the band take the stage. The lights come down and Mario Duplantier walks behind his massive drumkit, and the audience go bananas as he hammers the thunderous intro to “Only Pain” to herald the rest of Gojira.
While I was unconvinced by Magma and unenthusiastic that the bulk of said album would take up so much of their setlist, I have to say that hearing and feeling these songs in the live format has turned me around on them at least in this format.
The lighting and visuals that accompany the entirety of the nearly an hour and a half performance add substantially to Gojira’s aesthetic, with the kinds of imagery one would expect from them (nature, outer space, animals, psychedelia, monochromaticism). Gojira at this point are such experts in what they do that they know how to craft a setlist to allow for some breathing room and allow the energy to ebb and flow in a way that the audience will stay engaged with everything they’re doing. They played a good mix from nearly all of their albums with greater emphasis being placed on tracks from The Way of All Flesh, From Mars To Sirius, and nearly every song on Magma with only “Clone” from Terra Incognita and “Explosia” from L’Enfant Sauvage and literally nothing from The Link for whatever reason.
Gojira are every bit as great live as their reputation had lead me to believe. There are times where my jaw literally dropped due to how intricate and precise their playing is. The Frenchmen have clearly been in lockstep with one another for well over a decade and a half now, and each of them are essential ingredients in what makes Gojira such a special, seminal band.
One of the finest live performances I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing, they show expert command of the stage and crowd. The new material from Magma sits confidently alongside their most notable work, but capping the night off with modern classics “Oroborous” and my personal favorite “Vacuity” is unquestionably the best way to go.
If you have yet to catch either TesseracT or Gojira then it is well worth your time and money. There aren’t very many bands whose music translates so beautifully in the live setting and you’ll get a diverse set from one group who are on the way to being a top tier act and another who are legends in their prime. You will not regret making this show a priority.