It’s the hottest day of the year. Stepping outside feels like walking into a furnace, and the pollen count is so high that even the bees are saying “yeah, that’s enough, thanks”. All because apparently, the sun has arbitrarily decided that in the space of twelve hours, everyone in the UK has to die by melting.
Still, even if you don’t like the heat, at least it makes a change from drowning or freezing on the way to a show. Too hot, too cold, too wet. Fuck it, we’re English and it’s our duty to complain about the weather. It’s what we do.
The first noticeable thing on entering the venue – apart from how completely rammed it is – is the smell. Not the pungent mixture of body odour, warm beer, stale cigarettes and feet like the good old days, but of huge amounts of deodorant and body spray. The ozone layer has taken a particularly savage beating in Birmingham tonight. Quite ironic, considering the band everyone has come to worship are such keen environmentalists.
I have to admit that support act Rolo Tomassi are one of those bands who have just sort of passed me by. I’ve been aware of their presence, but for some reason, I just never really paid them any attention. Well, I may have only been able to catch the last three songs, but they certainly made an impression. Vocalist Eva Spence runs the show, crooning, shrieking and roaring over the top of some sort of post-Hardcore mathcore with occasional hints of post-Black Metal melancholia. Of the songs which I did manage to catch, ‘Alma Mater’ is particularly vicious, ‘Contretemps’ could be from the soundtrack to Twin Peaks, and closer ‘A Flood of Light’ has been played frequently since Saturday night.
Fresh from their appearance on the Scum Stage at Glastonbury Festival the day before, French Tech/Prog Death Metal legends Gojira are in a buoyant mood. The heat, already at an uncomfortable level inside the venue, is just about to get a lot worse. Opening with ‘Ouroboros’, the band continue working the audience into delirium with ‘Backbone’ and a magnificent ‘Stranded’, but it’s with ‘Flying Whales’ that things seriously kick off. Whether it’s the heat playing a part, but there are barely any crowd surfers for the first three songs, but all of a sudden, people seem to forget their lethargy and the pit erupts into a seething mass of limbs, flailing hair and airborne sweat. The security staff at the front now having to do something other than supply cups of water to those dehydrating on the barrier.
‘Love’, ‘The Cell’, ‘Terra Inc.’, and an epic ‘Silvera’ follow, with frontman Joe Duplantier apologising to the Brummie faithful for his below-par vocal performance. Apparently, while playing Glastonbury, the audience had kicked up huge plumes of dirt, much of which had ended up in his throat. Well, either nobody noticed or nobody cared, because the main response seemed to be a unanimous “really?”
Closing out the main set with ‘L’Enfant Sauvage’, ‘The Shooting Star’, and a version of ‘Blow Me Away You (Niverse)’ which doesn’t ever seem to want to end, drummer Mario Duplantier returns to the stage for that rarest of things. A five minute drum solo which is actually enjoyable. The rest of the band re-enter the fray for a massive encore of ‘Clone’, ‘Vacuity’, and ‘The Gift of Guilt’ and everyone goes home wanting two things. More Gojira, and plenty of fluids.