Live Review: Gojira / Alien Weaponry / Employed To Serve – The National Stadium, Dublin 11.02.2023

Words: Letty Sharp // Photos: Ian Mc Donnell

On the 11th of February, the French death metal band Gojira brought their Fortitude tour to The National Stadium. This was the first night of their European tour and the venue was sold out. Gojira brought the British heavy metal band Employed To Serve and New Zealand’s Alien Weaponry along as openers. With a stacked bill for the night, everyone attending was ready to hear some heavy music as the gig had been pushed back due to COVID. 

Employed To Serve were up first at 7:30. From Woking in England, the band were here to rock the Irish crowd. Opening with ‘Universal Chokehold’ off their most recent album ‘Conquering’ Justine Jones started screaming into the mic with heavy riffs and powerful drumming supporting her. Co-vocalist and guitarist, Sammy Urwin did some guttural vocals of his own, showing off his impressive technical guitar work. The band powered through their set, getting the whole crowd synchronizing their headbanging and jumping. A wall of death ensued when Justine instructed the crowd to split down the middle for the breakdown of ‘Sun Up to Sun Down’ with them all crashing into each other when she said the word three. The band ended their set with the heavy ‘Mark of the Grave’ with more head-banging ensuing. The band left their mark on the Irish crowd for sure and they have gained another fan.

Employed To Serve Setlist: 
Universal Chokehold 
Owed Zero 
Force Fed 
Sun Up to Sun Down 
Dull Ache Behind My Eyes 
We Don’t Need You 
Mark of the Grave 

Alien Weaponry from Waipu, Auckland in New Zealand are a very interesting band. Featured in a Vice documentary in 2019, the band sing in the Māori language and embrace their heritage. Drummer Henry De Jong came out first and started performing The Haka. Bassist Tūranga Morgan-Edmonds came out halfway through and finally, vocalist and guitarist Lewis De Jong joined his bandmates. They opened with ‘Raupatu’ which translates to confiscated in English the crowd started jumping and pushing into each other as Lewis led them into battle. The band kept the high energy up with ‘Holding My Breath’ with a powerful riff going throughout the song with Lewis singing the chorus with all his might. Mosh pits formed and were going for most of the bands set with the participants getting a breather when Lewis expressed his love for coming back to Dublin. Another wall of death was formed for ‘Rū Ana Te Whenua’ which translates to ‘The Earth Trembles’ and the song is about Lewis and Henry’s ancestor who fought in a historic battle. The crowd split yet again for the band’s final song ‘Kai Tangata’ with the band giving the last of their energy. Another great set and with everyone riled up and ready, all Gojira had to do was take the stage. 

Raupatu (confiscated) 
Holding My Breath 
Ahi Ka 
Rū Ana Te Whenua (The Earth Trembles) 
Kai Tangata 

The stage was set for Gojira. They came on a little later than expected but it was worth the wait as the crowd saw movement. Drummer Mario Duplantier sat on his throne behind his massive kit, dry ice encased the other members out of sight. As the dry ice subsided, the band kicked into their song ‘Born for One Thing’ the first one off their new album ‘Fortitude’. 
The crowd sang along with vocalist and guitarist Joe Duplantier for the chorus. The band then broke into one of the heaviest songs ‘The Heaviest Matter of The Universe’ with the crowd getting another mosh pit going. Fan favourite and one of their most well-known songs ‘Flying Whales’ from their 3rd album ‘From Mars to Sirius’ was incredible to witness live with all of the band members giving it all they had. The final few minutes of the song is a breakdown in its purest form with bassists Jean- Michel Labadie notes rumbling through the PA, there was not a single still head in the audience. 
‘The Art of Dying’ off their 4th album ‘The Way of The Flesh’ was performed for the first time since 2016 with the tribal drums sounding for the intro with Mario joining in with his kick drum. Another pit opened up for the almost 10-minute-long epic. ‘Our Time is Now’ got its live debut and ‘Another World’ followed right after. A fan threw a bouquet of roses onto the stage as Joe addressed the crowd and tried to remember the last time they played in Ireland. Every fan sang along for the sing-along ‘The Chant’ which is also off ‘Fortitude’. 
The band had an encore with them also digging out ‘The Way of The Flesh’ which they had last performed in 2009. ‘New Found’ and ‘Amazonia’ closed out the show with both being off ‘Fortitude’. Everyone had given all they had. Gojira came and they conquered the Stadium. 
This touring line-up is not one to miss. All 3 bands brought their A-game and are ready for the rest of Europe. Pinch-harmonic-filled songs with blistering double bass and powerful vocals are what Gojira bring and if you’re on the fence about going to see them, take the plunge, only your neck will be regretting it in the morning. 

Born for One Thing 
The Heaviest Matter of the Universe 
Flying Whales 
The Cell 
The Art of Dying 
Our Time Is Now 
Another World 
L’enfant Sauvage 
The Chant 
The Way Of The Flesh 
New Found 

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