Japanese metal band Dir en grey’s recent All Visible Things tour featured 11 shows in eight North American cities, all in small intimate venues. Despite the crowd appearing to fill roughly half of Englewood’s Gothic Theatre, the mood was excited as fans eagerly awaited the start of the band’s Nov. 18, 2009, show.

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After a brief performance by Denver band Solar Bear, the crowd grew more animated waiting for the main attraction. It was the third time in as many years that Dir en grey performed at the Gothic, and they seemed very much at home as they entered the stage at a little past 9 p.m. to the strains of the intro piece "Sa Bir."

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Once everyone took position, they launched into a revamped version of {modal url=images/stories/photographs/dir_en_grey/Denver2.jpg|type=fancybox|overlay=0 }dir en grey{/modal}their 2003 song "Shokubeni," featured as a B-side on the band’s Dec. 2, 2009, single release, Hageshisa to, Kono Mune no Naka de Karamitsuita Shakunetsu no Yami. Vocalist Kyo handled the a capella section in the middle of the piece beautifully, his voice true, not wavering in pitch at all.

The band was not flanked by screens showing images from their numerous videos as they have been in the past, but didn’t need them to hold the crowd’s attention. They delivered a {modal url=images/stories/photographs/dir_en_grey/Denver4.jpg|type=fancybox|overlay=0 }dir en grey{/modal}mostly flawless, if slightly understated, performance. After "Shokubeni," they moved into "Red Soil" without pause. Lead guitarist Kaoru, rhythm guitarist Die, bassist Toshiya and drummer Shinya supported Kyo as he displayed his diverse vocal stylings, ranging from a pure, sweet tenor, to 1970’s-type metal screams, to his as-of-late much-favored deep, guttural, death-metal sound. He even worked an almost opera-like falsetto into {modal url=images/stories/photographs/dir_en_grey/Denver3.jpg|type=fancybox|overlay=0 }dir en grey{/modal}"Gaika, Chinmoku ga Nemuru koro," switching between vocal techniques without hesitation. He seemed to stay in better tune than he has in the past, perhaps due to the noticeable earpiece he wore.

Kyo danced and strutted through each piece, moving hypnotically and capturing {modal url=images/stories/photographs/dir_en_grey/Denver6.jpg|type=fancybox|overlay=0 }dir en grey{/modal}the most attention. Toshiya, likewise, was very animated, skipping around the stage and moving seamlessly between plucking the strings with his fingers or a pick as each song required. He held the instrument in his typical, slightly unusual, vertical stance, moving to the more common horizontal position on only a few occasions. He was obviously having fun, taking advantage of breaks in the bass line to encourage the audience to make noise.

Kaoru and Die, in contrast, didn’t move from their positions very much, staying stage right {modal url=images/stories/photographs/dir_en_grey/Denver9.jpg|type=fancybox|overlay=0 }dir en grey{/modal}and stage left, respectively, for most of the show. They played their parts well, but their performances were a bit laid-back. They did periodically head bang and encourage the crowd to cheer, but they were overshadowed by Kyo and Toshiya. Shinya sat behind the drum set, setting him apart from the audience, but for those who looked, he lived up to his hard-working reputation, keeping each song’s tempo and never falling behind.
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The band is not currently promoting a new album, and had been asking fans via their Facebook page what older songs they would like hear played on the All Visible Things tour. Despite this, "Shokubeni" and "Kigan" were the only older songs played that are not regularly included on the band’s set lists. The rest of the show was very Uroboros-heavy, as they played 11 of 13 songs off it, their most recent album. They played a shortened version of "Vinushka," cutting the lengthy nine-and-a-half minute song into an {modal url=images/stories/photographs/dir_en_grey/Denver5.jpg|type=fancybox|overlay=0 }dir en grey{/modal}enjoyable four-minute version. The piano introduction to "Glass Skin" was sequenced, as usual, but so was Die’s steel guitar on "Dozing Green," highlighting the fact that this was a small tour with less equipment than usual. The music did not suffer for it, though, with the band sounding much as they do on the studio tracks.

Other than the Uroboros songs, the 18-song setlist included "Merciless Cult," "Hydra -666-," "Agitated Screams of Maggots," "The Final," and a very heavy-sounding version of "Obscure" that seemed to electrify the audience {modal url=images/stories/photographs/dir_en_grey/Denver7.jpg|type=fancybox|overlay=0 }dir en grey{/modal}and led to some mosh-pit action. After the final song of the encore, the energetic and unusually vocalized "Gaika," the band did their usual fan-service, throwing picks and drumsticks into the audience and spitting water on them. It was the perfect ending to a tight musical performance, and showed that after more than a decade, Dir en grey can still deliver an excellent show.

Live Report: Megan E.
Edited by: Kelly T.
Photography by: Hans W.

Dallas Gallery:
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Photos appear courtesy of The End Records and Dir en grey

Photos are from the Dallas and Denver shows

Dir en grey OHP
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