The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


LIVE REPORT: Babymetal
Josh Saco , July 9th, 2014 13:04

"Shredding and demonic": Josh Saco reports from Babymetal's show at The Forum in London. Photo by MortAuPat on Flickr.

Add your comment »

I love the wrong. I love the challenged. I live in hope for more fun than is ever likely to be encountered. I bought tickets to a bunch of Japanese Idol girls posing as a metal band at the Electric Ballroom. That's how I roll. 

I like metal. I'm a punk. Sometimes these paths cross. Never liked Maiden. Those paths never crossed. but faster, louder, has always ruled. As tickets flew, those Electric Ballroom tickets were upgraded to the Forum within a few days. My friends mocked me. Laughed at my thirty pound investment. 

I stood proud. Fuck your purist metal, I'm here to have a good time.

After all, unless I'm mistaken, that's what metal is about - driving around in a Camaro, hitting the 7-11, getting stoned, drinking brews, throwing the horns. Playin' it loud. 

There's no support tonight, and on the screen before us scroll, Star Wars-style, the story of the Metal Resistance. We are informed that all metal roads lead to Europe as red lights come up, casting ethereal images upon the screen as a thunder roars. 

A Screen drops. 

Three Japanese girls proceed to educate the Land Of The Saxon.  Over the course of the next 80 minutes, these Idols play a crowd of fans and mockers like Satan on his fiddle - Foxes thrown high, calls are answered and demons raised. 

Babymetal devastate London and any fool who just here for a laugh is swiftly converted to the Resistance as three teenage girls reduce the masses to a sweating fury. 

The mixing of tightly choreographed dance routines with blazing "we know what the fuck we are doing, so don't doubt us" solos from the anonymous backing band Kami, rumored to contain members of ex-Megadeth's Marty Freidman's solo act and likely to have been mined from the depths of the Japanese Metal Scene, deliver blistering double bass drums, duel action guitar shredding and demonic growling six string bass mastery. It leaves no one in the 2100 capacity venue with any doubt that these are masters of their domain. 

This is more than mere exploitation of another "sacred" music genre, this is no Avril Lavigne, with behind-the-curtain masters, mocking the skater bois. Whoever is behind Babymetal knows their genre - from devastating drums, to screeching guitars - and there's an authenticity to the act, one that makes the most hardened Burzum fan second guess their allegiance as they scream rough approximations of Japanese choruses to a trio of girls a third their age. Manipulative and cynical, but there's something bubbling under that pristine surface. 

Say what you will about the exploitative nature of the Japanese Idol scene, the candy pop elements of Gimme Chocolate and the inherent viral insanity of Japan's play it for the Western audience's expectations of "that wacky over the top Land Of The Rising Sun", Babymetal deliver one of the most memorable gigs I've ever seen, and I was at GG Allin's final gig at the Gas Station. I've signed up for the Metal Resistance, and if you were lucky enough to be at the Forum, you have too. 

If you love our features, news and reviews, please support what we do with a one-off or regular donation. Year-on-year, our corporate advertising is down by around 90% - a figure that threatens to sink The Quietus. Hit this link to find out more and keep on Black Sky Thinking.

Jul 9, 2014 6:16pm

Saw these guys at Sonisphere - started off with everyone looking somewhat confused but by the end of it they had filled the main arena. The musicians in the band are outstanding - and the screaming schoolgirls made a pleasant change to bearded sweaty men growling. Sonisphere was their first gig outside of Japan - got a feeling these girls are going to be massive. Would much rather my kids grew up listening to a band like this than some shitty boyband.

Reply to this Admin

Jul 9, 2014 7:49pm

The tone of the article suggests that the audience wasn't into it and got converted, which is far from the truth... everyone was giving it all from the minute we entered The Forum space. And in spite of this we were all wowed because they were THAT good!

Reply to this Admin

Jul 9, 2014 11:30pm

I LOVE this band. The album's genuinely amazing, far beyond any novelty value. Dying to see them live.

Reply to this Admin

Jul 10, 2014 12:31pm

I concur they were fab at Sonisphere, loved how they played on the audience's expectations by not bringing on the girls til the second song. Even with a brutal hangover and horrendous sunburn I was smiling like a goon and bobbing my head. The main one - the cheeky looking one - is my fave!

Reply to this Admin

Jul 10, 2014 5:59pm

I have been observing UK media buzz surrounding Babymetal for a bit with curiosity. Because I am Japanese and I love music and am interested in it. From that perspective of mine, I say these:

1.I enjoy and laugh at the tone of YouTube footages pasted in this article, as they are genuine news footages (sort of ITV morning news) and newsreaders all gasp and "whoa, Babymetal are proper popular in EU/ UK!! They made it overseas!"--which is,to me, a distorted reality&hype.

2.I just wonder, if this is known to UK fans or not? :Babymetal, in Japanese phonetic interpretaion, pronounced something like "Bebbie-Metaru". And we say "Heavy Metal", in Japan, "Hebbie-Metru" .So when i came across the name Babymetal, I thought it is just a play on word/humorous pun about heavy metal music, which is sometimes humorously called "Hebi-Meta" in Japan.

I think the guys playing behind three girls are really into metal and play very well etc, but it looks like to me bit too calculated--am I the only one to detect "let's put together a bunch of OK looking/pretty school age girls to perform our music in order to make it outrageous, because frankly, older guys playing this sort of music doesn't make much hype nowadays" here?
I also get that some fans ride along with this "kooky/unrealistic union of adolescent girls and heavy music" fantasy and irony of it, but I personally don't believe any of the girls in the group are into loud music--and feel bit sad for them, to perform a mouthpiece and to be a facilitator of others' ideas.

Reply to this Admin

Jul 10, 2014 10:07pm

In reply to :

The girls have all admitted they didn't know metal before the band - one even said they were 'scared of it' - but they're still young enough and their culture is different enough that it's a little unfair to say they shouldn't be allowed to front a metal band. Most metallers are putting it on to an extent, the aggro, the look, the voice, it's all calculated and manufactured, this is just very up-front about it. I just think it's fun and the tunes are catchy!

Reply to this Admin

Dec 25, 2014 11:48pm

Of course its all calculated, but what a wonderful calculation it is. all metal is calculated to impress and/or shock anyways. Their show is just too good not to like , unless you have walls up. if you do , I feel sorry you cannot experience the absolute joy this band bring. I look fwd to their doco of Londongig on 29th DEc 14 , I think.....and their next album too.have no feam , their Kami band is at this moment putting stuff together right now. The Babymetal tank is rolling and will conquer all... in their own Kawaii metal way.

Reply to this Admin