Live Review: Babymetal w/ Creeper | Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith London | 23/02/2020

Babymetal are a story of quick sensations, sensations that usually happen in a rise and fall. It’s a story told many times, Babymetal are a combination of Japanese Idol Music paired with Metal, and the powerful internet fame of their song ‘Gimmie Chocolate’. The three incredibly young singer/dancers made a quick name for themselves, found a great backing band and toured the world meeting Metal Icons and wrote the story of a new kind of Metal: Kawaii Metal, and the vision of Babymetal by the Fox God. After their second album Metal Resistance they suddenly saw quick change, as one of their original three left due to health reasons, enigmatically kept secret. Whether they could live up to the name that they had written for themselves with their debut album, was already a question. This felt like a tragedy. A new future had to be built. Metal Galaxy is their third album and see’s the band incorporate more world music in to their image. It's a statement that they will go on with the third member revolving, as the core SuiMetal and MoaMetal and the rest of the band continue. It is a pivotal time.

The London Eventim Apollo is a sizeable venue for grand events but is perhaps not the same as Babymetal’s Wembley Arena show a few years prior. Supporting act Creeper are a different kind of band, part of the Indie or Pop Rock sensations that seem to get wide audiences but are a bit of a far cry from Metal or Kawaii Metal. This is unsurprising for Babymetal’s uniqueness and eagerness to play with everyone. Creeper’s performance on stage quickly dwarves the venue. Their music might be at odd’s with Babymetal’s Metal strength, but their presence more than makes up for it. They are performers, professionally strung out for the big leagues and they’re quick to make that presence known. Their life on stage is almost picture perfect, the precision with their instruments a large part of the appeal and almost too large for a supporting act – but well deserved to be pushing the presence of Babymetal later on in the night. [8]

Babymetal’s popularity seems to have some level of controversy, for some they are a gimmick. Others fall for their potential as a truly unique band. Lovingly blending Metal with Idol music and seeing the connection with Metalheads and Anime culture, but realised in a new form of music never been done. Babymetal fans can feel the love and passion for them so strongly and Babymetal know how to use this. “See you!”, “We are happy to be in London again!”, narratives of Metal; showing appreciation to their fanbase and the special place that Metal has in the hearts of Metalheads. But, on February 23rd 2020, an animation projects itself on to the screen and presents ‘Future Metal’ as a rather small but beautiful looking introduction. It feels completely in tune with Metal Galaxy but isn’t quite the narrative openers of years past. In fact, songs from that album are quick to take the stage. They power through ‘Da Da Dance’, ‘Shanti Shanti Shanti’, ‘Pa Pa Ya!!’ and ‘Kagerou’ with wonderful background music videos projected. In between songs, these projections seemed to become 3dimensional; combining with smoke for an epic visual experience. This was a particular opener for ‘Megitsune’, a classic from their first album. It held a massively effective visual experience.

This shouldn’t overshadow their powerful presence dancing on stage. The choreographed dance troupe makes for an impressive and interesting visual experience, however, this time they felt almost contained by it. In previous years they’d utilise the stage and energetically throw themselves into every move and interaction. As previously mentioned, “We are happy to be in London again!”, but this felt missing. Sticking within a little circle as if hitting marked points and nervous to step out. For a band this huge and 8 years strong, this seems odd and not like them. Furthermore, the precision and professional playing, felt grandiose and powerful but exactly as put: ‘professional’. It feels that this is starting to unravel the problem.

We still had classics ‘Gimmie Chocolate’, ‘Megitsune’, ‘Headbangerrrr!!’ and ‘Road of Resistance’ with ‘Karate’, which is where they started to shine a little brighter, but their new material focused on multi-media experiences and contained dances with a little less energy than in previous years. Little narratives and little interaction and even more surprisingly, no encore (lest you count leaving to get Flags for ‘Road of Resistance’). It was this moment that left a bitter taste: what happened? What was wrong? Why was it that a band that so enthusiastically and so amazingly knew the energy and importance of their music, had felt a bit stale? Well, upon reflection, despite wonderful music, beautifully played and given some good visuals, they had remained cut off. Something is missing, somewhat lifeless, they hadn’t given much of a narrative, little interaction, energy, or encore. Babymetal have gone from passion to profession. A band once loved have, at best, begun their downfall. This is my loveletter to a dying band. I hope to see Babymetal find their passion again. [5]

London Eventim Apollo


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