Gojira // Live @ The National // 11.1.21 CONCERT REVIEWS FEATURED MUSIC by Wendy Podmenik Woodell - November 10, 2021November 10, 2021 Article and photos by: Wendy Podmenik Woodell RICHMOND, VA- Nestled in downtown Richmond Virginia’s “Theatre Row”, The National is a popular music venue with historic roots within the city. Built in 1923, it is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and features intricate scrolling architectural elements and multiple balconies. But this night was dedicated to metal music: three different types. Opening band Alien Weaponry– three young men from New Zealand who incorporated traditional Maori language and chants into thrash metal. Next up, Knocked Loose – a metalcore band from Kentucky, who recently released a short film in support of EP, “A Tear in the Fabric of Life”. Highly anticipated headliner French prog metal Gojira took to the stage with a exciting build-up to start of set- a full white curtain across the stage, with tribal symbols repeatedly projected on the front- earth, water, fire, in recognizance of their recent environmental activism project, protection of the indigenous people of Brazil. Shifting into a countdown of seconds, the first song “Born for One Thing” started, the numbers on the curtain flipped into flickering shadows of Mario Duplantier pounding the drums.and then the curtain dropped to roaring of the crowd. The track was plucked off of 2021’s album Fortitude, a project that had been delayed multiple times by the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. In keeping with Gojira’s mission to use their talent to promote awareness of social issues, Fortitude‘s main theme is to be inspirational in this time of political and social uncertainty. An expertly crafted light show mingled tightly with the set, as the band wound through selections from several previous albums. Favorites included “Stranded”, “Flying Whales”, “The Cell”. Introducing “Another World”, Joe Duplantier explained that the song was about leaving this world and finding a new world, that every day is our own “new world” with new decisions. The big surprise of the night was an appearance by Richmond native Randall Blythe of Lamb of God fame. Blythe had collaborated with Gojira on the track “Adoration for None” on 2008 album The Way of All Flesh. The song had never been performed live. Randall: “Thirteen years ago these guys flew me to France to record a song together, which has never been played live before- for the first time ever, we are bringing it home here”. The night ended with an audience sing-along to “The Chant” and “Vacuity”. The audience’s enthusiasm was so overwhelming that vocalist Duplantier remarked for a venue at capacity of two thousand, the energy of the room gave the appearance of a crowd numbered a thousand more. On a personal note, this was my most anticipated show of 2021, I was beyond excited to finally see Gojira in a headlining capacity and playing a full set, in what will probably be considered an intimate level show for a band that is moving metal music into a fresh, groundbreaking direction.