Babymetal, July 7th 2014 @ The Forum, London U.K.
on July 12, 2014 8:03 PM in
My 1st night in London I spent drowning myself in various liquors and becoming acquainted with the locals at The Crobar Rock n Roll Bar on Manette St. in Soho, west London. If you’re ever in London and are a fan of rock, metal, and/or alcohol I definitely recommend this joint! Very cool place with great staff.
At some point over the course of the night the subject of me going to Sonisphere on the weekend came up. One of the people I had befriended immediately said to me “Be sure you don’t miss Babymetal! They play the main stage on Saturday.”
I had never heard of such an act before but was definitely curious upon hearing their name.
He proceeded to explain to me the concept of the band and how, although admittedly a very strange idea overall, their stage show is really quite something to behold.
I always enjoy being turned onto new, sometimes esoteric musical acts so naturally I was now a little more excited for Saturday than I had been.
I really should have paid closer attention to set times however. By the time I arrived to Knebworth Park on Saturday, Babymetal had long since left the stage.
Not overly impressed with myself at this point.
Then my friend Kai, who was there in time and got to see their set, told me that they would be playing their 1st headlining gig in the UK the following Monday in London at The Forum. He said their set was really quite incredible and offered to source us out a couple tickets to the long sold out event.
Alright then. Game on.
The concept behind Babymetal is a fusion of heavy/melodic/death metal with “idol”. According to Wikipedia; “In Japanese pop culture, an idol is a manufactured young star/starlet who is promoted as being particularly attractive or cute. Idols are intended to be role models everyone adores.” Idol is also known as J-pop.
Think bubblegum pop if that helps. It is a very interesting combination of genres to say the least.
That brings us to Babymetal. Their entrance to the stage is concealed by a large white back-lit curtain allowing the sold out house to watch the silhouettes of the band members get into position and ready themselves to rock the place. As the band starts out with the 1st few notes the excitement in the place can be felt in the air. When they explode into some heavy metal riffage the curtain drops and the show kicks into high gear. The crowd loses their minds.
Led by 16 year-old Suzuka Nakamoto (Su-metal), and 15 year-olds Moa Kikuchi (Moametal) and Yui Mizuno (Yuimetal), the trio occupy the front of the stage clad in matching black tops and red tutus while their band hangs out immediately behind them clad in white gowns and face paint ripping away at their tools of the trade.
These girls are no slouches and have clearly put a lot of time into rehearsing as the choreography throughout the set was bang on. None of the 3 ever seemed to miss a mark with everything working in near perfect synchronicity, as they have a number of dance routines they run through during songs.
Su-metal looks after the lead vocals and I must say has quite impressive vocal chops. This girl can really sing! For the most part she tends to stand in the center with Moametal & Yuimetal flanking here on either side.
Moametal & Yuimetal frequently sing in unison though they do alternate depending on the song. Their style goes from either the poppy little girl voices you would probably expect from a J-pop/bubblegum pop outfit, or else some pretty hardcore screams more common to the metal scene depending on the song.
It can be really quite an odd juxtaposition at times.
I really can’t say enough good things about the musicians backing up these girls. To say that they were competent would be a gross understatement. 1 drummer, 1 bassist, and 2 guitarists all constantly ripping through metal riffs that, had the 3 girls not been on stage, would make you think you were at a show more akin to something along the lines of In Flames. At one point or another during the show each would take their turn at a solo to show off what they are indeed capable of. There was a point in the latter half of the show when both guitarists took sole occupancy of the front of the stage and traded very impressive solos with one another. Definitely a highlight.
It is clear that this young act already carries with it a VERY dedicated fanbase as there was nary a time when the vast majority of those in attendance didn’t have their arms in the air or weren’t singing along, a fact made even more impressive as most of the lyrics are Japanese.
It can be said that the act is a gimmick and who knows, maybe that was the whole idea starting out. What remains to be seen though is where it goes from here because gimmick or not, there IS talent there. Their debut album was released in February and was not only well received critically but also left its mark on a number of charts around the world including cracking the US Billboard 200, a feat rarely accomplished by Japanese acts.
If these girls stick together and continue to produce quality records past the 1 they have already released the potential for staying power is certainly there, as their live act is damn good! I am very happy I was made aware of this group, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
Moving forward though, if the plan is to stick around, I would keep a tight hold on the gentlemen backing them up on stage. Not only are they incredibly solid musicians, but rotating lineups are rarely ever conducive to longevity.