BABYMETAL @ Barrowlands, Glasgow, 19 Feb
Flawlessly choreographed and delivered with more rock’n’roll spirit than most of the genre’s so-called ‘saviours’, BABYMETAL are the best at it by far
If there’s one thing that’s more eclectic than BABYMETAL themselves, it’s the crowds they attract. Tonight has brought together a sold-out room of anime geeks, bearded hipsters, kids (with accommodating parents), and members of just about every cross-section of the metal universe you could care to name. They're all united by a common love for J-pop, wicked solos and the kind of gleeful disregard for genre only two young women and a nifty marketing team can achieve. If that sounds cynical, it’s not intentional – BABYMETAL are simply outstanding at what they do.
The global span of last year’s Metal Galaxy gives them the chance to embellish their impeccable choreography. The Soviet-meets-sea-shanty schtick of Oh! MAJINAI leads to a spot of impromptu Cossack dancing, while Shanti Shanti Shanti’s Bhaṅgṛā flavour proves the ideal setup for a colourful Bollywood moshfest. The pop side of the band is always there, as unapologetically joyous as a Eurovision novelty act. Su-metal proves a commanding frontwoman, a combination of idol training, enthusiasm and vocals that can flit from silly to spine-chilling in a heartbeat keeping the room hanging on every word, language barriers be damned.
Still, it’s metal the crowd came for, and it’s what they get. Between BxMxC’s pounding breakdowns, the circle pit-inducing frenzy of Headbanger and Gimme Chocolate (to this day one of the strangest breakthrough hits in metaldom), the riffs flow hard and fast. The masked backing band function as a well-oiled machine, executing sweep-picked solos and thunderous fills with a style that exudes both professionalism and a love of the craft. When energies threaten to fail Moametal and the Third Avenger (tonight played by ex-Sakura Gakuin dancer Momoko Okazaki), the backing band act as de facto cheerleaders to give everyone another enthusiastic boost.
Given that this is their first major tour without fellow founding member Yuimetal, there is sometimes the sense that things have been pared back from the extravagance (and the camaraderie) of old, but BABYMETAL seem to be taking such developments as the beginning of a new chapter and, based on this performance, throwing themselves into it. Flawlessly choreographed and delivered with more rock’n’roll spirit than most of the genre’s so-called ‘saviours’, they may no longer be the unique proposition they once were but they’re still the best at it by far.