NOTE: An overly extended review, as any show so memorable warrants more of a diary entry on your own blog.
Tonight begins at 8PM, and is over by 9:30PM. Cue inevitable stabs about having to go to bed early. There is no support either, but then, who do you couple with teen metal (literally) anomalies Babymetal? A novelty comedy rock act, or a deadly serious death growl band? The mass giggle, as a roadie made shadow puppets on a projector screen says the first, and a stare around at the deep, dense and dark ocean of black, already sweat-soaked T-shirts, says the latter. What now?
Three Japanese girl idols against a background of four live metallers are here to give us a hint, posing behind a giant screen, waiting to drop to reveal them all, amidst a showerof CO2 cannons, confetti and red streamers. Opening with a ridiculous Star Wars-like crawl of text, a voice-over makes the bold statement that this would be the saviours of rock and the dawn of ‘kawaii (or cute) metal’, against the atmospheric droning choir of album opener ‘BABYMETAL DEATH’.
Amidst fears that their pop origins instantly confirm lip-syncing, the central Su-Metal (Suzuka Nakamoto) is undeniably singing, and incredibly well she was too – screaming her red-and-black-kawaii-lace-dress-clad heart out, during ‘Akatsuki’. And doing so while dancing at such a rapid rate alongside Moametal and Yuimetal (who themselves get a hilariously awesome reggae section during ‘4no Uta’, under Jamaican-themed red, green and yellow lights), is easier screamed than done.
And the crowd certainly does try to scream along. It is stunning to hear just how many fans are singing, though the number of people who are just mumbling along, knowing that this song has the word ‘morning’ in it, and in that song, they say ‘chocolate’, is open to debate. It is the sold-out 2300 strong crowd who are guilty of miming. It is a bizarrely unique thing to witness, as metalheads show that they are far more open to fun that onlookers might think, playing along with every deviation from the apparently dull old ‘true’ metal. Those stabs will inevitably fall on deaf ears, especially considering the sheer volume.
Tonight, London Forum witnesses every song from their debut album, feeling like a strangely complete experience, especially considering the intense segues from the zombie facepaint wearing, backing ’Kami Band’. The inclusion of insane instruments such as a six-string bass, show that they mean business.
Considering tonight’s spectacle, one more album and one foot taller and they might be an arena seller-outer waiting to happen. Japanese girls bouncing around, screeching while dancing intricate routines against typical metal rackets, really shouldn’t work. No one really wants to admit it, but it works. Everyone is aching all over by the time Babymetal leave the stage, possibly from the mosh pit, especially during closer ‘Ijime, Dame, Zettai’, opening with a narrator preaching for no more bullying, and successfully, of course a “wall of death”. And anybody who isn’t in the pit, will be just as achy tomorrow morning, after intense, non-stop grinning for the last 80 minutes.
Will the UK see Babymetal again? Once the novelty wears off, will the appeal still be there? The furiously jolly response says that maybe the novelty faded long ago, and these young ladies are the real deal, right now. It almost feels a crime to call them ‘kawaii’ anymore.
EDIT: Videos replaced after being taken down.