Babymetal exploded on to the metal scene with their combination of Idol music and heavy metal, beautifully demonstrated with the internet sensation 'Gimmie Chocolate'. Their first album was huge and they quickly became a household name. This was always going to be a tough act to follow but Metal Resistance, their second album, was a solid effort. In more recent years the band, which was originally fronted by the young girls, Su-Metal, Moa-Metal and Yui-Metal, suffered the loss of Yui-Metal. This decision didn't come lightly, but was reportedly due to her health issues. This brought the band's future in question, as they had a big reputation to live up to. Furthermore, they had to replenish or reinvent their line up. In recent tours they have gone to four, three or just down to two singers/dancers fronting the band. Officially, it is Su-Metal and Moa-Metal with Koba-Metal backstage producing the music and the Kami band still fronting their music live. In this time, new material is surfacing and their new album is upcoming this year: 11th October 2019.
At the 02 Academy Brixton, London, a large venue but by no means as large as Babymetal have become, there was an electric sense of anticipation and nerves. The thoughts of how they could continue and live up to their standard still a question hanging in the air. In previous shows Babymetal have told parts of a story with every tour. This time they just take to the stage rather surprisingly. Thundering out powerful music and taking positions on stage with a familiar stride. Everyone stops and looks around, similarly surprised. It would seem that they will just get to it. Theatrics, multimedia and dances aside? A quality that had become a calling card for their performances.
Well the three singers/dancers make a natural fit. They seamlessly melded into each other as if they had been together all along. They perhaps missed an excitement that had been built between familiar friends – but this could have been the rather quick beginning. The introduction was just music and dancing, but 'Megitsune' is a familiar classic from their explosive debut album – furthermore its a personal track as it pushes their 'Fox God' mascot. Immediately there is a sense of the grandiose... restrained: the over-powerful and the under-teched. For a band known for their extravagance and amazing displays, dancing, video or otherwise, they felt too held back by the comparatively smaller stage than usual. Despite this, their voices seemed to go beyond what was capable of the microphones.
They powered through into unfamiliar territory, pushing new songs like 'Elevator Girl' and 'Pa Pa Ya!!'. But the unfamiliarity of these songs seemed to struggle with audiences, as if pushing a person out of bed in the morning. It hit but it took effort. By the time that 'Gimmie Chocolate' or powerhouses from Metal Resistance, 'Karate Girl' or 'The One', came on, audiences were both energised and feeling too late to be revitalised. But, consistently going from these huge songs to one another, meant that their emotionally raw strength, as well as their personal connections to the audience won through. It just all seemed to come a bit late after waiting through all the new material.
So just as it was getting powerful it came to a close. A video teased the new release of Metal Galaxy, their new album, in October. Was this it? Is this a preview show for their new album rather than their actual album tour? It all went so quickly. They entertained and drew out the excitement in the audience, but they were slow to do so before a quick last hit. Babymetal seem to still have a lot of the power that they used to, the power that made them such a big band in the first place. Their star-like ability leaves them imprisoned to smaller stages, shattering the room with their impressive music. The new material has a lot to live up to and perhaps needs time to be absorbed. It is a difficult time for them, and this was, perhaps, never meant to be an actual tour but a preview. Look to Metal Galaxy, October 11th, 2019.
Thanks also goes to the support acts to make this show more powerful; all bands, organisers and labels that made it all possible. Photo credits: Tina Korhonen
Official Site: Babymetal.com