Anyone hoping that the Babymetal phenomenon was merely an internet fad and momentary lapse of taste for the metal community would find tonight’s show a little disconcerting. The reality is that Brixton Academy is packed and, more importantly, the majority of people are clearly metalheads.
When DragonForce is played over the PA prior to the Japanese genre-mincers’ entrance, an uproarious sing-along erupts from the throng and there are countless punters in Maiden, Slayer and Mastodon shirts, all of which rather obliterates the notion that metal diehards should object to Babymetal’s very existence. Instead, the overall vibe tonight is one of runaway momentum and overwhelming joy, as an idea that arguably shouldn’t work at all is played out brilliantly in front of a euphoric, perma-grinning crowd. If you object to that… well, don’t invite us round your house for a party any time soon.
In terms of performance, the four corpse-painted, white robe-sporting virtuosos that provide Su-metal, Yuimetal and Moametal with their thunderous sonic backdrop are on blistering form tonight, underpinning those infectious pop melodies with several metric fucktons of steely crunch and nimble-fingered shred, aided by the fact that the sound in the venue swiftly evolves from pretty damn great to immaculate. But the whole demented shebang still relies primarily on the effervescent energy of the girls themselves. Su-metal is fine voice throughout the show, exhorting the audience to ‘Make some noise!’ at various points, but otherwise sticking to delivering the likes of 4no Uta and Megitsune with pitch-perfect oomph, while her two colleagues are a constant blur of pinpoint dance moves and twinkling smiles. Meanwhile, whether bellowing along with the subtitled voiceovers on the band’s subtly preposterous interlude films or pulling off a vicious wall of death, the fans are so deeply immersed in this crazy world and so utterly disarmed by the box-fresh vivacity of the whole thing that all thoughts of impartiality or aloof cool were plainly hurled out of the window months ago.
Explosions and stage props are minimal tonight – we can only hope that Babymetal return with their full stage show when they get back over here next year… and yes, that’s definitely happening – but this all still feels like a genuine, thrillingly cartoon-like spectacle and a glowing advert for the rejuvenating power of unpretentious, non-cynical fun. Such is the tsunami of goodwill heading Babymetal’s way that, after wonderfully ecstatic versions of Ijime Dame Zettai and Headbanger!, they even get away with closing their set with a brand new song, The One. Fortunately, it’s a blazing, turbo-powered speed metal anthem with an instantly hummable refrain. A few more like that, and album number two will surely turn Babymetal into international megastars and their detractors will, hopefully, drown in their own hissing vitriol. You want fun? Sorry, tonight we had all of it.