Arriving at three o’clock in the afternoon on Monday 9th June, I was surprised to find a distinct lack of queue outside the o2 Academy in Islington. For a while, just a few VIPs and some other eager fans waited outside as the members of Girugamesh were tuning up inside, but throughout the afternoon there was a sudden onslaught of heavy makeup, carefully styled hair and excitedly chattering mouths. By seven everyone was more than ready to go in and seek that all-important place at the front, and at the opening of the doors the crowd poured into the venue.
Once inside, it was an agonising wait in front of the stage, until at last the lights went down to the pounding intro of MONSTER. The ground beat with the force of the drums as ShuU (bass), Nii (guitar), Ryo (drums), and Satoshi (vocals) appeared on the stage. The room went dark. And Girugamesh’s ‘MONSTER’ London live began…
Opening with the explosive favorite ‘Breakdown’, the crowd immediately rushed forwards into a frenzied mass of pumping fists and swishing hair. Having been at the last concert and waited with trepidation to hear one of my all-time favorites (and my original introduction to the band), it was great to hear the full force of this track at the very beginning of the setlist. Girugamesh divided the night mostly between the rejuvenated hits from the LIVE BEST album and their latest tracks from MONSTER. ‘Drain’ showed off the band’s recent experimentation with dubstep influences, while ‘VOLTAGE’ took the fans’ excitement to electrifying levels, pun intended, ahead of the other high-energy tracks to follow. Satoshi took a moment near the beginning to introduce the band, and ask how their fans were- and clearly judged them to be more than happy by the deafening roar in response. As such, the band was tireless throughout the show, seemingly never losing energy in spite of the heat and dazzling lights. Following their powerful opening, ‘INCOMPLETE’ had everyone jumping and dancing, while ‘antlion pit’ and ‘CRAZY-FLAG’ provided the first opportunity for absolute mayhem, as headbanging soon gave way to a bit of friendly pushing and shoving- the moshpit would come later…
The band continued to weave upbeat, bouncy tracks like ‘MISSION CODE’, ‘Suiren’ and ‘Resolution’ in with older and much heavier tracks like ‘Volcano’, which proved to be a real hit with the audience. However, things really took off when the band lined up an amazing second half to the main show. Starting with ‘DIRTY STORY’, another LIVE BEST hit, the aggressive songs came in quick succession (although I would add that this was due to a somewhat disappointing lack of MCs after Satoshi’s introduction), including ‘bit crash’, ‘Live is Life’, ‘Neverending Story’ and ‘evolution’- and it was here that Satoshi seemed keen to encourage a bit more movement from the crowd. A hurricane of arms and legs formed in the middle of the room, while those less inclined to go home with bruises got as far out of the way as was possible in the sardine tin that the o2 Academy had become by this point!
Girugamesh took a cheery approach to their penultimate tracks, ‘Zecchou Bang!!’ and ‘Another Way’, both of which had the audience singing louder than any others- with plenty of accompanying dance moves for the former!
However, I would be lying if I didn’t say that the band saved their best performance for last. It only took a few recognizable beats of the drums to realize that the final track of the night was to be the stunning, overwhelmingly powerful ‘Kowareteiku Sekai’. Satoshi’s voice hardly faltered under the strain of a challenging, emotional vocal, and the instrumentals held strong as the concert came to an end on a high. Satoshi, Nii, ShuU and Ryo waved and called ‘bye bye!’ to the crowd while and instrumental version of ‘Alone’ played in the background, and gradually left the stage.
There was a good range of merchandise on sale, and the whole night was a great experience. Girugamesh has truly come back to form with the MONSTER album, and with a new mini-album just around the corner, and promise of another European tour in the near future, Girugamesh looks set to keep all guns blazing for a while to come yet!
Words by Lauren du Plessis