The Swedish metal titans Meshuggah toured their latest album Immutable to Nottingham on May 26th, stopping off at Rock City. Jake Longhurst reviews.
I was getting myself ready for one of the heaviest gigs I would have ever gone to, when I heard some of the worst news you can hear before a concert. The support band, Zeal & Ardor, had caught Covid and had to drop out of the show that night. I was devastated, I love Zeal & Ardor, and know them probably better than I know Meshuggah, so as I walked out of the door and it started raining I took it as a sign that it wasn’t going to be great.
How very wrong I was. The moment I arrived and saw hordes upon hordes of people in black T-shirts, chains, boots, and plenty of over the top band names sprawled across jackets, shirts, patches, hats and more, I revised my initial hesitation and started getting excited. The band had an excellent crowd warm up with the DJ playing some 8-bit covers of metal's biggest hits before the show, and Walk by Pantera was a particularly big hit, with the crowd bursting into life for a huge singalong of the chorus. I grabbed a drink and stood by, awaiting the arrival of the seminal Meshuggah.
As the last 8-bit notes rang out, the instantly recognisable Careless Whisper came on in full, and as the track finished Meshuggah had every light in the room turned out. The tension rose palpably, everyone aching to be the first to notice the Swedes. As the band walked out and took their positions the cheers filled every inch of the room, but were cut short by the opening tones of Broken Cog, which was to be the only semi-relaxed moment of the whole set.
''I nearly shed a tear of ecstasy at how both brutal yet delicate the band were''
Once they had finished this excellent introduction, the band promptly decimated the entire room and caused me to enter the pit with the crushing Light The Shortening Fuse. From this moment on, the band were nothing if not mind-blowing. I nearly shed a tear of ecstasy at how both brutal yet delicate the band were, with the true mastery of their respective instruments being demonstrated in full, most notably to me from the drummer Tomas Häake. He is revered, and rightly so, as one of the greatest drummers there is, so seeing and hearing him live was a truly humbling experience.
The band continued to play a pulverising set of songs, with the next particular highlight for me being the obscenely good Born In Dissonance, that ultimately caused many a bruise, and possibly some furthering of tinnitus, which was utterly worth it. As I’m sat on the train to Warrington the next morning, to go and see My Chemical Romance, I can only imagine the difference. Whilst they will be true showmen, I can’t imagine them bringing the same crushing atmosphere in any capacity.
The penultimate song of the main set was the lead single off the new album, The Abysmal Eye. This caused an eruption from the crowd, with the pit opening to its widest thus far in the night. Finishing the main set with the excellent Straws Pulled At Random, Meshuggah left the stage briefly to compose themselves.
Most bands would usually play their biggest song every time they tour. Meshuggah are not most bands. The only notable omission from their setlist was indeed the indomitable Bleed, their signature track, which I am gutted to have missed. However, their encore still contained two of the bands greatest tracks, Demiurge and Future Breed Machine in order of appearance. Demiurge was unfathomable, I barely knew what I was hearing, all I knew was that I loved it. But once the instantly recognisable bree-bree-bree pierced the air to signal the start of Future Breed Machine I flung myself headfirst into the pit to finish off what had already been a truly magnificent display of live heaviness.
The band showed themselves off in admirable fashion, needing no gimmicks or fancy live theatrics to still put on one of the best shows I’ve ever been to, and I must commend them on a truly breathtaking evening. Meshuggah have shown once again that they are utterly immutable.
Edited by: Amrit Virdi