Everything people love about J-Pop, but make it metal
Sarah Shodipe
13:20 3rd July 2019

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Seven years ago, if you’d pitched to your mates going to see a J-Pop Metal fusion act fronted by three “tweenage” Japanese girls, no doubt you’d be met with a look of confusion mixed with a little fear. But it’s not seven years ago, it’s 2019, and fresh from their festival performance at Glastonbury, the line for Babymetal’s one-off Brixton headliner wraps round the building, and then some. 

If you’ve never been to a Babymetal gig, it’s hard to know what kind of crowd to expect. But walking past the parade of Killswitch Engage and Behemoth T-shirts tell you it’s indeed a metal crowd. However, this is a metal crowd of all different shapes and sizes, one that’s open to something new and different. Take a picture while it lasts.

Once inside, that same crowd stand to attention as Sleep Token take the stage. The band’s brand of ‘arena-emo’ is eerily fitting for a Babymetal support. Their Cultish demeanour and anthemic love songs fills their 30 minute slot perfectly with what can only be described as an ambient, atmospheric performance alongside surprising beautiful and powerful vocals. Their stage presence and mammoth sound has something of early Twenty One Pilots to it. Never breaking character even to introduce themselves, they leave the crowd quietly impressed, but impressed nonetheless. 

As Amaranthe take to the stage however, their slightly cringey opening voiceover exhibit what to expect from the Swedish band. It’s hard to pin down why, but the performance reads more like a cheesy Britain’s Got Talent magic act. Maybe it's not one or two, but three vocalists - even though they inexplicably disappear and return to stage throughout the set. Maybe it’s that their discography sounds like a mid-2000’s Mortal Kombat game filled with electro hair metal; emphasis on ‘hair’, as a major part of the act is swinging their comically long locks in the most clichéd fashion. There were a few gems in the set, but they were undercut by the overzealous Eurovision style power metal.

Nevertheless, from the moment the lights go dark and Babymetal’s logo is projected, the stage truly belongs to them. The first thing to notice as the band open with ‘Megitsune’, as basically what makes the show so fun, is the impossibly sharp choreography. Fast, clean, intricate, energetic, fun and all the other adjectives you would associate, the girls, including a rumoured third member who showed up at Glasto execute their hour long set perfectly. Highlights including Sui-Metal’s impressively powerful vocals at the centre of it all, as the piano version of ‘The One’ half way through the set really give her a moment to shine. Though the venue is cosier than other rooms they’ve played in London, the production of their light show is still appropriately epic enough to match the energy of the show. New songs like ‘Elevator Girl’ and ‘PA YA YA’ go down a storm while the girls take it all in their stride. Though the majority of the songs lyrics are in Japanese, universal favourites like ‘Gimme Chocolate’ and ‘Karate’ have the crowd singing along like it’s their native tongue. Let’s be real, where else will you see grown men going crazy for a song entirely in Japanese about chocolate? As they end their set adorned with branded Babymetal flags, the confidence in their career at such at age is nothing short of astounding. No longer stars in the making, but indeed fully formed.

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Photo: Jon Mo