Very detailed report by Heavy Metal Japan about the biggest BABYMETAL show to date at Saitama Super Arena, event called "Legend 2015, New Year Kitsune Festival". The Heavy Metal Japan journalist talks about the pre-show, his thoughs during the show and the post show reflection. Report translated by our official translator Thomas Malone.
Heavy Metal Japan report from Legend 2015 New Year Kitsune Festival
The various block groups dressed in their Metal T-shirts awaited and waited and were made to wait patiently in the cold winter wind. But these Babymetal fans who were made to wait were able to handle the cold as their hearts and feelings were already there inside the Arena.
And finally the approaching time for entering the arena allowed them to enter. Whoa, it is warm, so spacious and Metal is blazing from the speakers. Let's go, let's go let's make our way into the center or our assigned blocks. Wow, I found an open space up by the very front! I did it! I got a spot in the front! I have found myself in a place to experience this famed band right at the front and I will not leave this spot hoping to get a first hand gaze from the girls.
My block was able to get a position just slightly off from the center spot. But, wow, SSA is truly a monstrously large venue. No matter how often I span my gaze over this arena I never get tired of reveling in this incredible scenery. The fans behind us press in and while feeling this compacted atmosphere I see that the seats leading all the way up to the ceiling it seems are all filled with fans. What are those? I spot 4 TV cameras ready to go. Metal concerts have a way of building up the excitement.
There is a reddish bridge spanning the stage's left and right sides. There are bonesmen walking around waving flags stirring up the excitement of the crowd. Screams go up when a spotlight falls for an instant on the stage. The core fans respond excitedly everytime commercials featuring Babymetal are displayed on the screens located to the right and left sides of the stage.
I am unable to get a grasp on just how far away I am from the stage due to the largeness of the arena. I am ready to face whatever happens. Even if they appear as pea sized figures I am ready to enjoy the show! I am going to burn the images of the 3 girls and the Kami band into my brain. I am ready, bring it on whenever you are ready!
Things get even better as I find myself in front of a group of fans in their late 20's both behind and around me on both sides-fans who have no sense of fear. I have come here to add my chorus to the show. For those who know my actual age they will know just how reckless my thinking is. I am ready to experience full on what is about to happen that parallels or even exceeds any Metal experience I may have had in late '90s. That is why I am here.
The lights go out in the arena and as the Fox Sign silhouettes go up with a loud scream from the audience an immense “Do----n” screams out. I am bracing myself holding on to the barrier fence with my left hand as my right hand goes up waving wildly. Moametal, Yuimetal and Su-metal appear coming down in coffins at the back of the stage together with the narration from the speakers and loud excited cheers from the crowd.
The pressure increases as the first song begins and with the near scream pitch and dancing of the younger fans to the back and sides of me I find myself frustrated not being able to move as I want to. A loud set of screams erupts as the bridge lowers from the ceiling to a place between the center of the stage and the side the fans are on. Are they going to walk on that? In the midst of all this I too scream and raise my hands in the sign of the Fox god.
The three girls come across the center bridge so close, so close that I can clearly see Su-metal's facial expressions. I can see the faces of both Yui and Moa and I can distinguish who is who. They are so close! There is no way to avoid the excitement. The younger fans are already going wild in their own whirlpools. I was ready to join them but the intimacy of the event peaked and my ears were flooded with an explosion of sound my eyes were tantilized by the high tech lighting.
Awa or Bubble Fever (translator's note: Awa or bubble Dreamer is how I hear it) (tentative title)
Catch Me If You Can
Uki Uki Midnight
Yon no uta
Akumu no Rondo
Ijime, Dame, Zettai
Doki Doki Morning
Road Of Resistance
The biggest push of pressure came with “Gimme Choco”. If I let up in my physical posture at all I am crushed by my surrounding mates. While screaming the whole time I force my body to ride on the rhythm. Sweat pours from my face and my T-shirt is covered in sweat while my body is heated up from the core.
In the section where the fans sing the chorus of the new single, Road of resistance, it is difficult for the men to reach the high key aimed more at a woman's range of pitch. Because of that the rhythm got off kilter and I could see Su-metal give a wry smile and adjust her way of singing. That wry smile is burnt into my brain. This sense of being reprimanded by this 17-year old girl left me with a set of complicated feelings and was the highlight of this performance for me personally. I want to scream out to the 20,000 fans, “This is outrageous!”, “We feel fantastic!”
I felt that Su-metal's voice was even stronger than the last time I saw her at Makuhari Messe. There were many instances where I felt both her vocal pitch and wavering of the voice had greatly improved. Good examples of this are the beginning of Akatsuki with “Ikusen mono~” and the “Kimi o mamoru kara ~” where I felt her vocal cords were able to maintain the proper pitch and chord.
Once my eyes got used to the environment it was a real thrill to see how the well their singing and their movements matched in such harmony seeing them up close.
I was able to hear both the Ai no Te and the vocals of Yuimetal and Moametal better than I was able to at Makuhari Messe. As someone who is deep into “Yon no Uta” I found their performing of the “YonYon” section was even further accelerated when compared with the DeLorean version I knew from the BudouKan live. And when you see them up close you are amazed by the incredibleness of the choreography. There is great worth in seeing the sharpness of their movements tht simply can not be grasped from only seeing them on video. I realized that only a small percentage of Babymetal's power can be garnered only if it is seen live. And so I think of Babymetal as being truly Rock. The sound that was born out of the wild era of the late '60s has evolved into such an enjoyable sound. This is truly wonderful!
These 3 girls are truly great performers. The lip synching of a few years ago seems unreal. I really felt that their efforts and their enjoyment of working hard at voice training and dancing have really paid off.
The time is coming now where we will see the appearance of many successive Kouhai bands. I hope Babymetal will plow ahead and continue on the path that they have opened up for them. Less seriously, I feel I can sit back and enjoy what is up and coming.
The Kami band is certainly composed of true Heavy Metal musicians. There is nothing to be uneasy about considering their incredible respective session musician talents. However, conversely one can worry about being to complacent in this lack of uneasiness. I kind of hope they would provide a bit more of a sense of thrill and excitement in their solo performance parts, but that is probably just the empty wishes of an older Heavy Metal fan.
Artists work as professionals to provide their fans with a time that lies outside of their fan's usual daily lives. Babymetal has already accomplished this. I am truly looking forward with excitement and anticipation as to where they will venture in the future. I look with great expectations on the activities of team Babymetal after being overwhelmed by this performance in front of 20,000 fans.
I was able to stay in the very front until the end. I was able to add my own chorus and shouts sufficiently along with the crowd of young fans I was mixed in with. I achieved my target aims. Of course Babymetal performed without any MC. I was able to truly enjoy these 3 girls and the 4 musicians who back them up. Speaking honestly, next time I want to avoid the pressure of the crowd and enjoy them with a sense of leeway from an upper level seated position.
Coming out of the arena my T-shirt mixed in with my own sweat and the sweat of those surrounding me meets with the cold winter wind and sticks to my body. My ears have perhaps been a bit damaged by the explosive sounds. But I leave the arena in state of true elation.
It was not until I took a bath that noticed the slight bruises on my elbows and knees. I guess that is what you get from sharing sweat with the excited dancing younger generation. The front lines were fun and interesting.