LIVE REVIEW: Babymetal @ O2 Brixton Academy, London (02/07/2019)

Credit: Tina Korhonen

Date: July 2nd, 2019
Venue: O2 Brixton Academy, London
Support: Amaranthe / Sleep Token
Website: www.babymetal.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/babymetal.jp
Twitter: www.twitter.com/babymetal_japan

Rating:

If there’s one thing to be said about polarising Japanese metal troupe Babymetal, it’s that their fanbase is as diverse as they come. From teenage girls cosplaying as their heroes to aging rockers donning Dream Theater shirts, their appeal seems to stretch far and wide.

Indeed, they’ve drawn crowds of thousands at the likes of Download Festival and even their own headline show at Wembley Arena. Comparatively, Brixton Academy is a humbler venue, which makes you wonder if perhaps their time is running out – though, if the queue that’s stretched the entire length of the building is anything to go by, it would suggest not.

Who are Sleep Token [6]? Well, no one’s quite sure. The mysterious metal collective remain as anonymous as ever, keeping their identities under wraps quite literally in masks and black robes. It’s all very interesting, and the music itself is dazzling, like doomy, down-tuned worship songs, but tonight, it doesn’t quite land.

The vocals of the frontman known only as Vessel are nothing short of stunning on the gut wrenching ‘Blood Sport’ as well as rousing new single, ‘The Night Does Not Belong To God’, but the Babymetal audience don’t seem to get it, and the band themselves do little to engage them. Perhaps that’s all part of the intrigue, but regardless, it results in a largely disinterested crowd.

Amaranthe [7], in contrast, are lapped up quicker than ice-cream on a hot day. The Swedes’ brand of cheesy power metal wouldn’t be out of place at the Eurovision song contest, and in any other situation, might be a tad cringy – but they do an excellent job at charming the crowd, who warm to them instantly, which is more than can be said for the opening act.

Unusually, the band have three vocalists, though it’s Elyze Ryd leading the pack, her impressive pipes shining on catchy banger ‘Digital World’ and schmaltzy ballad ‘Amaranthine’. Sure, it’s cheesy, but it’s all performed to perfection and manages to be a bit of fun in the process.

For anyone unfamiliar with Babymetal [8], they’re a heavy metal band meets J-Pop group. A gimmick? Sure, but a good one. Opening with the mighty ‘Megitsune’, an empowering anthem if ever there was one (even if it is about female foxes), Su-Metal, Moametal, and newcomer Riho Sayashi emerge triumphantly clutching fox masks.


Credit: Tina Korhonen

The crowd of adoring fans hold the fox symbol salute high (are you seeing a motif here?) as the trio burst into an energetic and perfectly synchronised dance routine. Up next is slightly poppier new track, ‘Elevator Girl’, with an equally vibrant and lively sequence, once again executed without a hitch.

See, it really is all about the show with Babymetal – every song is accompanied by lightning fast choreography from the three dynamic front women, with pyro and smoke only adding to the theatrics. The band themselves, all clearly accomplished musicians, take a back seat as the focus is entirely on the peppy and capable trio, who command the audience with absolute aplomb.


Credit: Tina Korhonen

Su-Metal, the band’s lead vocalist, showcases her impressive range on the likes of ‘Starlight’, though there’s admittedly a heavy dose of backing track to help. They’re without a doubt a Marmite band, but even the hardest cynic would struggle not to be swept up in the perky joy of ‘Gimme Chocolate!!’ or the rousing, defiant ‘Karate’. Where will they go next? Only the Fox God knows.