I first stumbled upon Babymetal over a year ago, when I saw the video for Headbanger, a truly astonishing, unique musical experience that immediately hooked me - as I like a bit of metal and I like a bit of J-pop, how could a combination of the two fail? So when the band's Gimme Chocolate exploded virally earlier this year, it was great to see the rest of the world catching up on the whole crazy, infectious Babymetal phenomena. Things have moved fast since then – a European tour was announced to capitalise on their new (and for all anyone knew, fleeting) popularity, including a performance at UK metal fest Sonisphere and a gig at London's Electric Ballroom. As it turns out, the popularity of the band was wilding underestimated – they were bumped to the main stage at Sonisphere and after the London gig immediately sold out, the venue was switched to the two and a half thousand capacity Forum – which also sold out in a day. Amazing as it seems, it's very possible that the show could've been switched to an arena and still sold out.

All this is, of course, to the frustration, anger and bewilderment of some metal fans. You know the sort – usually middle-aged people who react like angry children when a band 'sells out' (i.e. decides to not keep cranking out the same album for thirty years or simply manages to have some sort of commercial success), who like to dismiss pretty much anything that isn't a bunch of pensioners going through the motions and who pretty much seem to be entirely devoid of humour – they take their metal SERIOUSLY, in the way that only a tribal fifteen year old really should. Honestly - if you are over 25 and still base your entire identity on the sort of music you listen to, there is something badly wrong with you. They also seem to believe that they have been appointed by the United Nations as Metal Czar, able to dictate what is or isn't 'real metal'. Well, sorry. But I've been listening to this genre for a quarter of a century, and watching live bands for most of that time, so you don't get to tell me what is or isn't 'real'. You don't get to tell the packed house that turned the Forum into a sweatbox what is or isn't 'real' either. That's not how things work. If you're determined to hate this because your narrow view of music can't widen even slightly, that's your choice (and your loss, quite frankly). It doesn't make you right.

And for those who do like Babymetal, tonight was a a gift from God. I think it's safe to say then when Gimme Chocolate first exploded, no one in the UK ever expected to be seeing the whole amazing spectacle live a few months later. But here we are. The word has gone out that the band will be on stage at 8pm – surprisingly early, so no support, clearly. Who the hell could support, frankly? So myself and FAB Press main man Harvey Fenton roll up to the venue at 7.20 to find a huge queue stretching for what seems like miles down the road. Luckily, the doors are open, and even British door staff can't make a simple ticket and bag check last too long, so it keeps moving fairly quickly and we are probably inside within about ten minutes.
Looking around, this is a mixed crowd – quite a few Japanese people about, some of whom are clearly Idol fans more than metalheads; a wide mix of ages, from grizzled rock veterans like ourselves to teenagers; and possibly more girls than the average metal show. And there's a sense of anticipation that is palpable. No one, thankfully, seems to have turned up to be a cock and try to boo / bottle the band off stage. Everyone is here for a good time. Just how good a time that will be, I'm not sure anyone quite realises at this point.
At 8.05 – running late! - the lights go down and we're treated to an opening video projection – a Star Wars pastiche telling the entirely mythical tale of Babymetal, with their oddball Fox God discoverer and cheekily announcing the band as the Metal Saviours. The keyboard warriors of Blabbermouth would probably be apoplectic with rage by this point. The crowd here though are loving it – they are roaring with such approval that they actually drown out the sound from the stage. Once the audience has been stoked up to the point where they seem ready to explode, the lights erupt, the stage curtain falls, and suddenly, Babymetal are here. The audience goes wild. They won't stop going wild for the next 90 minutes.

The band open with BABYMETAL DEATH, a fair chunk of the crowd eagerly singing along, and you can almost put your finger on the point where Su-Metal, Yui-Metal and Moa-Metal realise that theyown this place. That this is working. And also, perhaps, this is the point where those people who turned up thinking this would be a bit of a laugh, a nice novelty act, are thunderstruck to realise that this is not just good, it's great! Anyone who thought the 'novelty' would wear off after a few songs was quickly proved dead wrong.

So the sound isn't perfect – some of the vocals get lost in the mix. It doesn't matter. This is spectacle at its best and a musical treat. Hell, if you really can't get past the three teenage girls, then just think of this as being one of the best goddamned metal bands that you'll ever see with a bunch of dancers. Babymetal's white faced Kami Band backing group have been picked from Japan's absolute finest rock performers and they are astonishing. They get a couple of spots to solo and perform without the girls, and are genuinely jaw-dropping.

The three Babymetallers are also excellent – their dance routines are a mix of teenage enthusiasm, heavy metal dramatics and classic J-pop idol moves, all perfectly polished and executed. There's nothing wrong with a band who have worked hard to put on a flawless show (and do you really think that your favourite credible rock act hasn't spent hours rehearsing their indifferent sneering and contrived shambolic nature?) and this is great. Plus Su-Metal has a fine voice and can belt out both the metal stuff and the power ballads. Together, they rip through the band's Youtube favourites – line!, Uki Uki Midnight, Onedari Dai Sakusen, Catch Me if You Can, Megitsune, Doki Doki Morning and others perfectly.

As well as slots for the band the shine, the show also has solo spotlight moments for Su-Metal and a dance spot for Yiu-Metal and Moa-Metal, giving it a bit of variety. And it's relentlessly loud – this isn't just heavy metal, but pummelling industrial metal. Still, the audience is louder. Everyone here is smiling. Everyone is amazed. Everyone is happy. No one is here desperately trying to look cool and distant. The whole crowd is caught up in the amazing show – and indeed are part of the amazing show. This is fun. You remember fun, right, metal purists?

At 9pm, Babymetal perform a rousing singalong version of Gimme Chocolate and exactly one hour after hitting the stage, they are gone. But the audience wants more, and after a surprisingly long wait – this band knows how to milk a crowd shouting for an encore – they return to perform Headbanger and Ijime, Dame, Zettai before finally winding it up with an explosion of glitter and ribbons.

As the audience stumbles out into the fading daylight, there's a sense of wonder and excitement. People stand around outside, seemingly shell-shocked. You imagine that whatever the had expected or hoped for, tonight has wildly surpassed that. I overhear a couple of people wildly proclaiming this to be the “best gig ever!”. That might, of course, be post-gig euphoria kicking in. But in all honesty, they might not be too far from the truth. I can't remember the last time I saw anything this much fun.

Against the odds, Babymetal came, saw and conquered. If this is the only time the get to play a UK concert, then it was a special night indeed. Hopefully though, they'll be back, maybe for a full tour. If the audience reaction tonight is anything to go by, though, get those tickets fast, because everyone who was here is going to come back for more.



 私が最初にBabymetalを見つけたのは1年以上前のことよ。Headbangerだったわ。本当にびっくりして、他で味わったことの無いような経験だったからたちまちとりこになったの。ほら、メタルもJ-POPもイケル口の私としたらその二つの組み合わせが悪いわけないじゃない? だから今年のはじめごろにGimme Chocolateがドッカーンってきたときに思ったの。Babymetal熱に侵されていく人たちを見るってカ・イ・カ・ン。
 そこからは速かったわね。ネットの人気(でもそんなの儚いものでしょ?)にあやかってUKのメタルの祭典SonisphereとロンドンのElectric Ballroomのgigを含むEUツアーが発表されたわ。ふたを開けてみればめためた過小評価だったのよ。Sonisphereのメインステージに格上げされたしgigは即完売で会場は2500人のForumにアップグレードされた。それも1日で売り切れたけどね。びっくりするかもしれないけど、アリーナに変更されてたとしてもやっぱり完売だったとおもうわ。


 Gimme Chocolateが最初にびくんびくん来た時には、UKの誰もこんな劇的で素晴らしいライブが数ヵ月後に見られるなんて予想して無かったって事は確かね。でもほらみなさいみなさいよ。バンドが8時からステージにでるわよって告知されても、ちょっとはやすぎんよ、サポートチーム用意できなかったわ。捕まえられるわけないじゃないねぇ? だから私自ら、FABマガジンのおおぐろふとばしらのHarveyFentonとで、箱に7:20に押しかけたの。そしたら、まー何kmも続くなっがい行列があったわさ。いくら使えないブリティッシュのドアマンとはいえ、もぎりとバッグチェックくらいは簡単な仕事だったみたいね。順調に行列は進んで、10分かそこらで入場できたわ。


 8:05-ちょっと押してる!-照明が消えてオープニング映像を見せられたの。スターウォーズのまねっこで完全に神秘的なBabymetalのお話し。おっかしな狐神が彼らを探し出し、えっらそうにこのバンドはメタルの救世主だって宣言したの。この時点でおしゃべり糞野郎のネット弁慶は怒りで脳卒中になってたでしょうね。そこにいた人たちはすごく気に入ってたみたいだけど。ステージの音が聞こえなくなるくらいの賛辞をこめたどよめきが起きてた。もうがまんできないって感じにオーディエンスがびくびくしだしたら、照明バーン、カーテンふぁさあ、で、いきなりBabymetal登場! オーディエンスはもう大興奮。そこあと90分ずっとだったけど。

 オープニングはBABYMETAL DEATH。結構な人達が一生懸命一緒に歌ってた。Su-Metal、Yui-Metal、Moa-Metalがステージを支配してるって認識したのはこの時点だろうなって誰しも思ったはず。そしてその通りだったんだもの。

 バックを取ってるBabymetalの白塗りKami Bandは日本のなかでも最高のロック奏者達を選りすぐってきてて、実際すごいのよ。女子達なしで2回くらいソロがあったけど純粋に顎が落ちたわ。
 くわえて。Su-Metalの美声。メタル成分とパワーバラードを力強く歌い上げてた。それらが合わさってYoutubeで人気の曲を完璧に畳み掛けてきたのよ。-Iine!, Uki Uki Midnight, Onedari Dai Sakusen, Catch Me if You Can, Megitsune, Doki Doki Morning等々。

 9時。Babymetalは一緒に歌うバージョンのGimme Chocolateをやって、ショーが始まってきっかり1時間、彼は去っていった。でも観客はもっともっとになってた。ちょっとびびるくらい長い時間待たされたけど-このバンドはアンコールでの観客の焦らし方よく分かってる-、HeadbangerとIjime, Dame, Zettaiをやってくれた。



 翻訳: プログレ板(647,648,649)