If you told me a year ago that three Japanese teenagers (youngest two being 15) would sell out a 2000 plus capacity venue in the centre of London, I would say you’re full of it. But yet, here I am, watching a jammed crowd going nuts to a group who found their footing as part of a school girl idol group, and made famous as the fastest growing heavy metal unit to come out of Japan in years.
A mixture of band tees, beards, and pastel dresses filled the venue floor, with pre-emptive roars, moshing and crowd surfing to the fluffer tracks as the premise of waiting a further hour for the curtains to draw started to set in. Meanwhile, Tokyo fans waited just as eagerly as Zepp Tokyo opened their doors for a live viewing of the show on the big screen, with lines starting hours before the event and merch selling out within the first hour! Finally, the Star Wars-esque opening cinematic spilled onto the white screen, introducing the metal resistance themselves, BABYMETAL.
What followed was a set list of solos and breakdowns, dance tunes and outright headbangers, combined with well choreographed dance moves pulled off seemingly without a single hitch, or if there was, it’s not like anyone had time to notice with people pushing, shoving and jumping to get a good view of the action as far back as the merch stand. Equipped with just the one album (a chart topper at that) they didn’t have much choice but to play it in it’s entirety, making for a zero percent chance of the typical “I’m disappointed they didn’t play [insert song name]” after show conversation. Crowd favourites like ‘Uki Uki ★ Midnight’, ‘Megitsune’ and final song ‘Give Me Choco!!’ kicked up the most dust, sending shockwaves of movement throughout the venue. Tokyo viewers also partook in the opportunity for a good pit as the sun broke the horizon at 5am. Throughout the show the mist of sweat grew ever thicker, but there was still more to give. The girls came back to the stage for an encore, starting off with ‘Headbanger!!’, and then wrapping up the night with a motivational peace video, which was instantly made redundant by the order to “show true courage” and kick off a wall of death to the final song of the night, ‘Ijime,Dame,Zettai’. Why? Because Kirk Lee Hammett said so (not in person I might add)!
Now let’s give credit where credit is due, as it’s not just a three girl operation. The metal sisters Su, Yui and Moa are also backed by what they call the “gods of metal”, and though that may seem like an overstatement, these guys sure know their ways around their instruments, and are certainly the main suppliers of metal here. Luckily they were given their time to bathe in the lime light, with a whole slice (be it a thin one) of the set-list dedicated to killer solos from every member.
What started out as a cute idea merging a producer’s two favourite genres, has now turned into a worldwide phenomenon, and tonight proved that. This was the craziest heavy metal show I’ve seen in a long time, and easily one the best. It’s not something you see everyday, and to be honest I don’t think we’ll see anything quite like it again. Though they’ve broken the mould, they are still essentially an idol group, and with the genre’s ever changing landscape, it’s hard to tell what the future holds for the faithful three. Will BABYMETAL still be as prevalent in three or four years time? Maybe not. Do I hope they are? Hell yeah!
Words by Charles Shepherd