In Flames

support Gojira + Sonic Syndicate
author AP date 01/10/08 venue Astoria, London, UK

Let me vent some anger before letting you experience in words In Flames' headlining gig at the Astoria in London; because where's the sense in opening the venue's doors fifteen minutes prior to the start of the first band's set, when the queue stretches around two blocks? Having arrived by train from Basingstoke, I find myself at the back of this queue while the evening's first act, Sonic Syndicate, play the entirety of their set to what I imagine to be no more than a few hundred people. Whether it impresses anyone, I don't know, because by the time I step into Astoria, Gojira are about to begin. And just in case you're wondering about the poor image quality: I'd packed all the necessary camera equipment except the camera itself, so you'll have to bear with what my cellphone can accomplish.

Gojira

Gojira is, as Anders Fridén later points out, pretty much as heavy as it gets. And if you don't buy their newest album, "The Way of All Flesh", he'll personally kick your door in and punch you in the face. So we are told, at least, later on. In a live setting, Gojira's music is in just the right wavelengths to prepare us for an evening of heavy fucking metal. Its progressive nature, however, has many a fan simply standing around, confused as to how they should react to the sudden shifts in tempo. But then, playing unreleased songs rarely warrants another kind of reaction. I, for one, am content in merely taking in these new tracks, which seem to out-brutal even the heavier songs of "From Mars to Sirius". The band treats us to a fair share of older material, too, and it's during these songs that a moshpit emerges. "Backbone" is particularly well received. There's nothing mind-blowing about the stage show, but let's face it, not every band needs to pull a Dillinger out of the hat to do well live. Jean Michel jests about with his four-string with a wide grin planted on his face, while the rest of the band are more subtle in expressing their joy at playing this gig tonight; and a good, solid gig it is.

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In Flames

I've seen In Flames live enough times now to know exactly what to expect from them: "Cloud Connected" kicks off the set, "My Sweet Shadow" concludes it, and "Only For The Weak" has the crowd jumping in unison. Now there's a white shroud in front of the stage, and I expect it's there to hide some impressive setup. I joke around about the band either hating, or being huge fans of Sigur Rós, remembering that band's gimmicks at Roskilde Festival a few years back. Hell, it's even Sigur Rós playing from the speakers while the stage technicians work their magic. But as the lights dim, and the first notes of "The Chosen Pessimist" engulf the room, the shroud still in place, I realize something different is planned for tonight. In Flames appear one by one as silhouttes, they're pulling a Sigur Rós. A lone spotlight reveals a non-silhoutte Daniel at his drum kit, while dancing stage lights magnify and shrink Anders Fridén's silhoutte in what might just be the coolest intro to a metal concert I've seen.

As the song builds into its powerful crescendo, the shroud is dropped to a myriad of cheers and screams. "Thank you for making us feel like at home!", shouts Mr. Fridén. We've got a lot of songs ahead of us, he says, some we've never heard live before. At this point I'm convinced that I'm in for another kind of In Flames show. For almost two hours, the band invites us on a journey through its history, playing not often heard tracks like "Vanishing Light" and a "Jester Race" medley, consisting of "Dead God in Me" and "The Jester Race", with bits of both "Wayfaerer" and "Behind Space" worked in between. The latter, in particular, hits the soft spot for fans of the old In Flames. What's even more interesting is that while the band has picked a few songs from just about every album in their catalog, they're not your usual In Flames live songs. From Clayman it isn't "Only For The Weak", but "Satellites And Astronauts". From "Colony" it isn't "Ordinary Story", but "Insipid 2000". Party starters "Trigger" and "Pinball Map" are present as usual, but tonight's setlist is a refreshing and welcome change to the pattern.

And as much as the crowd seems to be enjoying it, with at times three moshpits operating simultaneously, the band seems to be enjoying it even more. Jesper and Björn run about with their guitars, smiling and laughing, high-fiving crowd surfers that end up at the front, and Anders gives that trademark rasta-headbanging his all. Crowd response is massive, particularly so in the poppier sing-along songs like "Delight and Angers" and "Alias". It's also during the former that a massive digital screen at the back comes to life, spewing out a damn good alternative, or supplement, rather, for the classic stage lights, as well as selected lyrics that come to aid during newer songs. Two hours pass too quickly, with "Trigger" and "Take This Life" bringing the concert to a grandiose finale that, together with a refurbished setlist, imprints it into each and every crowd member's memory for good.

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Setlist:

01. The Chosen Pessimist

02. I'm the Highway

03. Vanishing Light

04. The Mirror's Truth

05. Insipid 2000

06. Satellites and Astronauts

07. System

08. Pinball Map

09. Delight and Angers

10. Disconnected

11. Colony

12. Cloud Connected

13. Dead God in Me

14. The Jester Race

15. My Sweet Shadow

16. Come Clarity

17. The Quiet Place

18. Move Through Me

19. Alias

20. Trigger

21. Take This Life

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