Chuck Schuldiner Project

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Dir en Grey w/Dagoba in Paris (@Le Bataclan, 26/05/2015)

As some of you might remember reading in my review for the bands' latest record, Dir en Grey is a band that holds a very special place in my heart, considering that they were the very first band I had seen live back in 2007. Nevertheless, far from ever reaching any level of exacerbated fanboyism, I have always kept a critical eye on the Dir en Grey studio and live efforts.  With that being said, last weeks' show at Le Bataclan was one I had been very excited and curious to see. It had been nearly 8 years since my very first live show with Dir en Grey, 8 eventful years during which the band have taken yet another unexpected turn towards a more ambitious, richer sound. As I showed up nearly 2 hours prior to the scheduled opening of the doors, I found myself absolutely floored as I approached the venue to find hordes of fans, forming what seem be a 200 meter long waiting line.

Scheduled exclusively and especially for this Parisian date, Dir en Grey had the luxury of being able to invite none other than one of France's biggest metal acts' to open up the show: Dagoba. Decorating the stage were banners and flags displaying the art for the bands' latest album to date, titled "Post Mortem Nihil Est". As with any show opening up with a leading act from the French metal scene, tonight’s' festivities could not have started off any less enthusiastically. With a packed venue waiting for them as they took to the stage, the band was greeted by a roaring audience cheering as loud as one would for a headlining act. Now I'm going to give it to you guys straight: I've never been a fan of Dagoba. I've tried, but they're just not my thing. When I heard that Dagoba were going to be opening for the show, I frankly could not have cared any less. With that being said, the band absolutely killed it tonight. With a tremendous amount of energetic stage presence and a tight, well locked-in performance supported by a freaking massive sound, the band put up an outstanding opening show, setting the crowd ablaze from the very start of the show. The groove metal act even managed to open up an impressive moshpit as well as two walls of  death during the course of their set. Vocalist and bodybuilding enthusiast Shawter got the blood pumping in the crowd with his impressive screamed vocals and his occasional post-grunge inspired vocals which I've never been a fan of (though his delivery was top notch). The guitars did lack a quite a bit of detail, with the middle and high end of the guitar being barely audible, though thankfully this didn't come in the way of the bands' trademark headbang-enforcing grooves. While I may not be a big fan of their music, this was a class-A performance worthy of the bands' reputation. Well played, guys.

Left with a heavy opening set to keep up with, I will admit that I had my doubts as to how well Dir en Grey was going to measure up to Dagoba's. Fortunately, Dagoba's set wasn't the only pleasant surprise waiting for me that night. The band stepped to the stage, dressed all in black, to the deafening cheers of an ecstatic audience. Vocalist Kyo's makeup had visibly made its comeback, albeit in a less extravagant fashion. Sporting a blonde pompadour haircut and a face blackened by eyeshadow, Kyo came off as a character from a Shinya Tsukamoto movie, which can only pass off as a good thing by my book, despite my reserves regarding some of the bands' more "image-conscious" phases. Interestingly enough, the setlist for this tour was entirely dedicated to the bands' latest album with the exception of the 3 encores, with 14 of the albums 16 tracks being played. Whereas one may regret not hearing some of the bands' previous material, seeing the album being played practically in its entirety allowed fans to further appreciate the bands' most recent material in a more wholesome, immersive context. The band kicked things off with "Soshaku", the 2nd track off of their latest album, an interesting yet smart choice for an opener. The instrumental buildup of the song got the crowd growing wild with impatience.
It was as soon as Kyo nailed that first high note leading to the explosive chorus that all of my doubts regarding his vocal performance vanished into oblivion. An unexptected cold shiver ran through my entire body, from my head down my spine and gave me instant goosebumps, as though I had been struck by lightning. Vocalist and lyricist Kyo was absolutely mesmerizing from start to finish, from his stage act to his incredible vocal performance. Whereas I've always steered clear of the  fanboy/girl obsession surrounding the vocaist you can't help but be blown away by the sheer amount of charisma displayed by the frontman, from his hypnotic dance moves and gestures to his violent headbanging. As to the vocalists' reputable vocal skills, I was very, very impressed to see how much Kyo's vocal performance had progressed. His vocal performance seems considerably more focused and controlled. While not always pitch-perfect, Kyo's vocals never fail to capture our utmost attention and shake us to our core as he sheds out every bit of energy and emotion into his performance. Furthermore, I was absolutely floored to hear how fast he manages to switch between so many vocal styles and technique, particularly on "Uroko", one of the most impressive songs of the evening performance-wise. Steering away from mere showmanship, one can only admire the bands' focus on building an atmosphere and conveying an emotionally powerful set. Overall, this was a performance one can only expect from such a band with such a consistent lineup.
I had made my way to the Bataclan on that sunny afternoon expecting a mere nostalgic trip down memory lane, but what I ended up getting exceeded far beyond my expectations. After a soon-to-be 2 decade long history, Dir en Grey shows an impressive tendency to breathe new life into their career and have truly lived up to their tour name by proving themselves as an unstoppable force in the metal and rock scene.


Thank you to Peter and Pirate Smiel GbR everyone who made both this amazing show and this live report possible!

Dagoba Setlist
Setlist (Official, from Light Engineer)
1. Soshaku 咀嚼
2. Chain Repulsion
3. Sustain the Untruth
4. Un Deux
5. Uroko

6. Tōsei
7. Rinkaku
8. Kūkoku no Kyōon
9. Magayasō
10. Phenomenon
11. Behind a Vacant Image
12. Cause of Fickleness
13. The Inferno
14. Revelation of Mankind
15. The Final
16. Saku

17. Hageshisa to, Kono Mune no Naka de Karamitsuita Shakunetsu no Yami

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