BABYMETAL / AMARANTHE / SLEEP TOKEN – Brixton Academy, London 02.07.19
PHOTO CREDITS: TINA KORHONEN
The first thing you notice as you scan the crowd gathering outside the Brixton Academy is that there’s no such thing as a typical BABYMETAL fan. The age ranges stretch from the impossibly young to old school rock veterans. There are girls in cutesy kawaii -style cat ears, and there are none-more-metal guys clad in their favourite obscure death metal band’s t-shirt. BABYMETAL’s appeal it seems is as broad as it is devoted.
All of which means there is a decent sized crowd in to welcome first act SLEEP TOKEN to the stage. They are an attention-grabbing sight, all dressed in robes and masks, a chorus line stood to the rear of the stage all also dressed in the anonymous garb. All of which instantly brings GHOST to mind, and while you would struggle to say they sound similar to GHOST, they do mine a similar vein of dark pop sensibilities combined with a harder metal edge. They’re the sort of band that if you buy into the schtick then you’ll adore them, if not, they’re likely to leave you nonplussed at best. They receive a strong response which suggests there are more of the former than the latter in tonight but in truth the set is very one-paced, the songs following a pretty formulaic structure of impassioned vocals, followed by a big, heavy section before petering out again and there is no interaction with the crowd and for such a theatrical looking band very little in the way of stagecraft. File under nonplussed.
Sleep Token are:
Vessel – Vocals
(The rest of the band are anonymous…)
Second up are Sweden’s AMARANTHE, already well established in mainland Europe you sense that the venue and crowd size hold no fear for them. Their three-pronged vocal attack ensures that there is always someone working the crowd, though female singer, Elize Ryd shoulders most of the responsibility for talking between songs.
Their slick performance and glossy well-crafted songs go down a storm with a crowd who largely seem familiar with the band, or if they’re not are more than likely to be checking them out after the show. Their perfectly executed blend of European electro and power metal fill the venue and having just been announced as support to SABATON at Wembley Arena, you imagine it would easily fill that venue too.
They shift between the epic balladry of ‘Amaranthine’ to the heavier, more aggressive ‘GG6’, and as they effortlessly move up the gears through their set they have they crowd literally dancing in the aisles. All in all, it is the perfect set up for the headliners from a band who will surely be making that step up in the UK themselves before long.
Elize Ryd – Female clean vocals
Henrik Englund Wilhelmsson – Unclean vocals
Nils Molin – Male clean vocals
Morten Lowe Sorensen – Drums
Olof Morck – Guitars, keyboards, synthesisers
Johan Andreassen - Bass
And so, on to those headliners. Fresh from their acclaimed set at Glastonbury, they take to the stage on a wave of appreciation from a crowd that are here for a good time. And a good time is exactly what they’re going to get.
In many ways BABYMETAL are the antithesis of everything metal is supposed to be, with their cutesy looks, choreographed dance routines and their precision crafted set. But the blend of J-pop and raging metal is - especially in the live environment - irresistible. And the crowd make no effort to resist it, going nuts from the very first song. The truth is though that it would be nigh on impossible to stay still to these songs. And behind the gimmick is an incredibly strong back line of musicians who play, tight, fast and very, very hard indeed.
All of which leads to the frankly joyous sight of every single member of the audience throwing off their inhibitions and allowing the utterly bonkers show to inhabit them completely. There are full-grown battle-jacketed metallers dancing like teenage girls and teenage girls throwing devil horns like they’ve been possessed by Dio.
Between each song the stage goes dark the band disappear, the music starts up again, anticipation builds, the lights come up and we’re treated to another electrifying song complete with perfectly synchronised dance moves. It almost feels like every song is an encore. The effects build as well, smoke machines blast huge plumes into over the stage, pyros blast out flames and all the while the dancing continues, onstage and off. They treat us to new song ‘PA PA YA!!’ and then follow it up with ‘Gimme Chocolate’ and the crowd loses what is left of their shit. You think it can’t get any better, but they then launch into ‘Karate’ and the whole place is bouncing like you’ve never seen at a metal show. It is a glorious, ludicrous experience and one everyone should try at least once.
They bring things down with the gentle, almost Disney-esque ‘The One’, greeted by mobile phone torches being held aloft as Su-Metal sings solo at first and then is joined by the band, but the slower stuff doesn’t last long as they seamlessly transition into the full on over the top metal of ‘Road to Resistance’. As the final bars drift away, the joy in the crowd is plain to see; couples hug, arms sway and horns are raised. BABYMETAL leave the stage with polite thank yous and to deafening applause. The decision is unanimous, BABYMETAL rock.
Su-metal – Lead vocals
Moametal – Lead and background vocals
Takayoshi Ohmura – Guitar
Leda Cygnus – Guitar
Isao Fujita – Guitar
Boh – Bass
Hideki Aoyama – Drums