Sound: Dir en Grey played one night in London on August 3rd, 2010 after an appearance at the Knebworth Sonisphere. It's been about three years since they were last here headlining a "tour" (I use the word lightly) and apart from a couple of festival appearances, Dir en Grey have done very little in England.
Overall the sound of this gig was very good, both guitars were unique and clear, the bass was as heavy as it could be and the drumming was excellent. Kyo's vocals were strong to start with but seemed to get lost in the mix later in the night. Whether this was because my hearing was slowly dying (more than likely) or because of a lack of effort on the singers part isn't clear.
Still, he came through on the soaring, singalong parts of songs and despite playing to a mostly English-speaking crowd there was lots of singing, chanting and shouting.
Overall, they were much better than when I last saw them three years ago. The sound has been tightened up and perfected, very little got lost in the mix. The vocals could've been louder, this is my only real complaint. // 9
Perfomance: Dir en Grey got an awesome reception for a band that comes to England very rarely. When they took to the stage (quite promptly, thankfully) the place went wild. Everyone immediately surged forward, shoving, elbowing and jostling. There was shouting, jumping, horns in the air and general chaos all around.
Despite the pervading sense of aggression (which Dir en Grey cultivate well) there was also respect. Several times people fell down and they were back up immediately, which is good to see. The sense of community was welcome and I got the impression everyone was there to enjoy themselves.
Dir en Grey have played to a lot of English speaking audiences since the last time I saw them and I think this was reflected in their performance. They seemed far more confident and comfortable both with themselves and the crowd. During crowd favourite "Obscure" both guitarists, the bassist and the singer were up front, posing and getting the crowd worked up. They were both professional and entertaining.
One thing I particularly like is that singer Kyo seems to know very little English except for "jump" and "last song". This means there was no "you're the greatest fans ever" nonsense, no time wasting, just music, music and more music.
The setlist consisted of:
01. Sa Bir
02. Red Soil
03. Agitated Screams of Maggots
04. The Fatal Believer
05. Hageshisa to, Kono Mune no Naka de Karamitsuita Shakunetsu no Yami
06. Stuck Man
07. Gaika, Chinmoku ga Nemuru Koro
08. Inconvenient Ideal
09. INWARD SCREAM
10. Dozing Green
11. Rotting Root
14. INWARD SCREAM
16. Reiketsu Nariseba
18. The Final
19. Zan (Re-recorded version from the Hageshisa single)
After the first 5 songs I was already almost burnt out. Luckily, the dark, funky Stuck Man, and slower paced Gaika, Chinmoku ga Nemuru Koro and Inconvenient Ideal gave me time to recover. Dozing Green and Obscure were massive crowd pleasers and I was ecstatic to hear Vinushka as a closer. This song is nearly 10 minutes long and after hearing that they don't bring all of their gear overseas I didn't think I'd be hearing it, but it was an excellent performance.
The Encore brought us another favourite, The Final, a re-worked version of Zan from their first album Gauze and Rasetsukoku from their second album Macabre.
The Inward Scream sections were Kyo's vocal solos while the band changed equipment. They consist of him using delay and reverb to pull some odd vocal tricks and really show off his ability to make bizarre noises. At one point he hit a note so low I was certain it would cause some structural damage.
Overall, the setlist was excellent, mostly made of newer songs but with some old fan favourites thrown in for good measure. I couldn't have asked for more. // 10
Overall Impression: As stated above this gig took place in the Koko in Camden, London on August 3rd 2010.
Dir en Grey had no support, it was just them. The venue was rather oddly laid out, but the standing space was large enough for a good-sized crowd and allowed good visibility of the band. One thing I was particularly impressed with was the barstaff's ability to give out enough tap water to satiate the several hundred dehydrated fans after the show.
Tickets were a reasonable 20 for a standing ticket, the entire evening probably cost me less than 30 which was more than worth it for what I got.
One thing that I'll never forget is the way the band seemed to warm to the crowd. I've watched Dir en Grey performing in their native Japan and although the crowd is angry and energetic, they all fistpump, headband and singalong in perfect unison. I like to think that the barely organised chaos of Western crowds is something the band enjoy. It didn't take long before Toshiya (bassist) was up front, showing off and posing. This was followed by Die and Kaoru (guitarists) getting up front, working the crowd, getting people cheering and shouting. This was the same band who three years ago hadn't done much at all. This time they seemed to really enjoy themselves. Even the usually shy and reserved Shinya (drummer) came up to the front of the stage after the gig and tossed out some drumsticks.
If Dir en Grey ever come back to this country I will ABSOLUTELY catch them again and anyone who tries to stop me will suffer horribly. They're rarer than Christmas and ten times as fun. // 10