It was my first time shooting at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith, London. I thought I had a pretty good idea of what was to be my night but as I got to this iconic venue, the words “Sold Out” leapt out at me from the lit-up billboard. I had no idea that Babymetal were this popular. I’ll admit, the only real knowledge of them I had was from elitist metalheads telling me why they aren’t worth paying attention to. But surely, with an impressive touring history and multiple awards to their name, these elitists must be wrong? Right?
Before I could find out for myself, Creeper exploded onto the stage. The audience knew every melody and every lyric. An energetic performance was put on by frontman Will Gould who artfully used every nook and cranny of the stage to an effective degree. Between songs, the screams of teenage girls shook the walls of the Apollo and the only question I really had was how much of a fit this slightly edgy pop-punk band really were on the bill. Asking the audience to “raise their horns” before going into a slow love ballad made my little black metal soul giggle. It was cute.
Creeper had a ton of hooks, charisma and enough diversity in their songs to melt the void hearts of every lovesick Tim Burton fan in the room.
The entire back wall turned into an epic, slightly cheesy anime that revealed Su-metal and Moametal, the two core members of Babymetal, in one hell of a lively fashion. The crowd were one of the loudest I have heard at any show. Babymetal’s fanbase are crazed and beyond loyal. The masked Kami Band walked across the stage to their instruments with barely a nod to the audience. It was reminiscent of Ghost. Just, a Japanese pop metal version.
The two core members accompanied by a third dancer put on a well synced and driven performance. The Kami band is ridiculously good. I often found myself just watching the drummer who smashed the kit with power and finesse and in his own right, was a huge performer. Some of the riffs were pure evil and the leads were played flawlessly. Having such malevolent riffs coupled with the kawaii vocals almost made the experience quite sinister and at points I swear it became far more Satanic than most metal bands I have seen. I’m not sure if it was meant that way, but at times where the dancers were on their knees worshipping the lead vocalist, there were definitely devilish/occult vibes going on. It had an air of hauntingly singing “Ring a Ring o’Roses”… to a pop-dance-metal combo.
The group are clearly talented and professional. At one point a hoodie was thrown onto the stage narrowly missing one of the group, the dancing didn’t stop for a nanosecond and within moments the stage was cleared of all cotton debris. In fact, the movement didn’t stop at all in the set which is pretty impressive when you add the pace and vocals being achieved on top of this too.
Ultra-catchy choruses, well-choreographed performances, loads of fire and awesome riffs. I can see why the elitists wouldn’t approve. But if you can get over the fact that this band are a different entity then you may just find yourself a happy, fun, upbeat and sometimes absolutely brutal ensemble to crowd surf, mosh and wall of death to – just like the sold out crowd did in London.
Photos by Watchmaker Studios