28.1.2020 Dir En Grey @ The Circus, Helsinki

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Last year, DIR EN GREY released a new song called “The World of Mercy,” while also marking the 20th anniversary of their debut album “Gauze“. The band is kicking off 2020 with dates in Europe and Asia and stopped at The Circus in Helsinki on 28 January 2020. Check out our photo gallery.

It was no surprise to me that the Japanese extreme metal band could fill up an entire venue without any issue at the beginning of a workweek. The previous show I had attended was in support of their latest studio effort “The Insulated World” released in 2018, and it left a wonderful impression in my mind. Fans filled up the venue as soon as the doors were announced open, even though there would be no support act warming up the audience. It seemed, however, the audience was already quite energetic.

The band came on stage one by one on the opening song “Zetsuentai.” From the start, a lot of people in the audience were singing and screaming along, headbanging and pumping their fists into the air energetically. When you compare a band like DIR EN GREY to any other metal band, they’re more of ominous presences on stage, that are somewhat intriguing to watch. Frontman Kyo especially, as he moves around the stage with strange, maniac-like motions, while the others are mostly in the background focused on their respective instruments. The band doesn’t spend much time talking to the audience in between songs, and more than anything it feels like they are there specifically to play as many songs as possible.

Even though the show was in that sense perhaps quite minimal, the band creates an otherworldly atmosphere with their sound, the lighting show and projections behind the band. Any fan would be immersed in a beautifully produced extravaganza of experimental Japanese metal. As if that’s not enough, by maintaining this momentum, the band was able to play quite many songs (most of them from “The Insulated World”) including a couple of fan favorites and kept everyone engaged until the bitter end, when they played the last song of the evening “The World Of Mercy.”

Once DIR EN GREY had left the stage, the audience wasted no time demanding an encore, luckily they were quite convincing as the band came back for three more songs: “HYDRA -666-,” “Followers,” and last but not least the energetic “Utafumi.” There’s no denying that even 20 years after their critically acclaimed debut “Gauze,” the Japanese metal band knows how to entertain a crowd. Even though I personally would have liked to see even more old material in their show, I have to admit it’s always engaging to see DIR EN GREY play.

Article and photos by Laureline Tilkin

Setlist

  1. Zetsuentai
  2. Ningen o Kaburu
  3. Rubbish Heap
  4. Devote My Life
  5. Keibetsu to Hajimari
  6. Celebrate Empty Howls
  7. Aka
  8. Merciless Cult
  9. Downfall
  10. Values of Madness
  11. Keigaku no Yoku
  12. Ranunculus
  13. The World of Mercy
  14. HYDRA -666- (Encore)
  15. Followers (Encore)
  16. Utafumi (Encore)

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