Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Babymetal - Legend S

We move on now to Su-metal's hometown of Hiroshima, where we're set to celebrate her 20th birthday in the most epic way possible with Legend S, an event which surpasses Wembley as the band's longest one-night show. In addition to being a celebration for Su, this show is actually notable for two other big reasons, those being that this would be the first show to not feature Yuimetal, and it would also be the last show to feature Mikio on guitar before he would tragically pass away the following month.

But not to linger on a down note, the show begins in full theatrics, as Su-metal steps out of the mouth of a massive fox head and onto a small circular stage surrounded by giant fox heads facing outwards towards the audience (where the bulk of this evening's performances would take place on, as the stage would at times move up and down the center aisle). Then a group of fox warriors grab hold of a pair of chains attached to the stage, and they pull her across the aisle to the main stage on the other side of the venue, where the music kicks in, and we're introduced to the band's new introductory track, In The Name Of.

This is the only song of theirs to feature no vocals by any of the girls, and even the choreography is pretty minimal, as we see Su at times stamping her staff against the ground, and at other times slowly waving it from one side to the next. This song is mostly for spectacle, and an excuse to show off the band's elaborate costume designs. And it's another song of theirs that's taken some time to really grow on me, but I've come to dig it quite a bit. The guitars are just awesome, and the death voice's vocals are especially sick time time out, particularly when he almost sounds like a fox growling at certain points.

This particular performance was done by Su alone, and featured those fox warriors banging along on these big tribal drums throughout, as the lights would obey Su's every command and followed along with the wave of her staff. This was just such a cool way to introduce this new track, and it leaves me excited to see what other creative ways the band can find to incorporate this song into their set in the future, similar to all the awesome ways they've found to incorporate Babymetal Death. But what an epic performance, and an epic way to start the show!

And it only gets more awesome from there, as they jump into a fiery rendition of Ijime, Dame, Zettai, and already my eyes are starting to well up from excitement. We see now that on this evening, the girls are dressed all in black, and the Kami Band have finally changed up their own wardrobe as well, sporting an all black look themselves. And we see right off the bat how the performances are generally going to look on this evening with just Su and Moa up there, which is a bit off balance with that empty spot that Yui would normally occupy just left wide open (this was before they would introduce backup dancers to work around Yui's absence).

And where in future shows, either Moa or Su would sing Yui's parts depending on the song, for this show, most of her lyrics were just left out entirely, so there were a number of empty spots in the vocals throughout the evening where the girls just left that spot blank before resuming with their own vocals. The first time this is most noticeable is during Gimme Chocolate, where Moa would do her part, then there'd just be silence as she stands there and waits to resume with her own lyrics, though the fans did their best to fill in for Yui, singing her parts during those empty gaps. So yeah, certain aspects to their performances on this night are a bit strange to both see and hear. However, as the show goes along, you do get used to it.

We move on to the band's first pair of solos, and during the dueling guitar solos for Akatsuki, Su rushes up the stairs on the main stage to combat against a masked foe in a brief little fight dance, which we haven't seen her take part in since Legend Z. And then after this brief skirmish, man, just looking at the expressions on Su's face, you can just see how much she's really pushing herself as she's belting out this song, really giving it her all to put on the best damn show possible.

And then we get to GJ, and this now marks the moment when Black Babymetal's songs have officially become Moametal solos. And this night in fact is the only occasion in which Moa actually had the stage entirely all to herself, without even any backup dancers around her or anything, and I tell you, she more than carries her own out there.

I mentioned in my Big Fox Festival review how I'm never not gonna gush over just how bad ass Syncopation is, and you're damn right I'm standing by that! And on this night, throughout the song, they kept cutting the lights to this really deep, dark red, which helped give this song this real sinister edge on top of everything else. And Su's death glares only added to that edge. So awesome.

Then seeing a sea of people pumping their fists through the air and singing along to Meta Taro got my eyes welling up again. And by the end of this song, I found that I had been smiling so hard that it was actually hurting my face again. I can't think of any other band that has so consistently had that effect on me. And god I love this song live!

The eyes started welling up again just during the video hyping up our next song, and as soon as No Rain, No Rainbow kicked in, it was over for me, as my eyes were raining tears. This performance even features a live pianists and violinists, in what is undoubtedly the definitive version of what I consider my personal favorite Su-metal solo. She gives the absolute performance of her career here, and comes out looking like a superstar in front of her hometown. You can just feel the emotion in her voice, and that emotion hits you right in your core. This is just such a touching, beautiful rendition, as the crowd was left in a quiet awe, until they uproared with applause at the end.

But it's time to wipe away those tears for now, as we jump back into some more fun with Song 4! And this song features one of the few exceptions in the evening where Moa actually did sing and dance Yui's parts. I guess they figured it would've been a little too awkward for her to pretend to be hiding behind an invisible Yui for an extended period of time.

During Headbanger, Moa may not have had her smoke gun handy, but that was okay, because those giant fox heads had her back, as they came to life and proceeded to breathe out smoke through their mouths and into the crowd, making for a really awesome effect. And on this special night, while this song is normally about a girl celebrating her 15th birthday, Su altered the lyrics to reflect her 20th birthday, which got a huge pop out of the audience. And you could hear how much this little change really pumped everyone up, as there was an added level of intensity in the crowd's chants for the remainder of the song. So that was a really awesome little detail they did for this song on this night, and I loved how Moa was already mouthing along with the updated lyrics (please tell me they'll let Moa sing this version of this song for her own 20th birthday in this coming year!).

I had alluded to this evening's performance of Babymetal Death in a previous review when discussing the different ways the band has utilized this song over the years, and on this evening, it was used as a super dark lead-in to this show's closing number, which we'll get to in a minute. Now, on first viewing of this show, I actually thought that they had piped in Yui's vocals during her parts where she's introducing herself, but on this rewatch, it appears as if Moa is actually singing her parts, which is an interesting choice (she's certainly dancing Yui's part at least).

Similar to Legend 1997, after a certain point in the song, a group of hooded individuals make their way onto the stage, and they proceed to crucify Su once more (by my count, marking the fifth time we've seen her crucified on one of these big shows), this time onto a giant XX symbol that has been so prevalent throughout the show. And the stage is then set aflame, as Su lets out her bloodcurdling scream, and Moa's left running around the stage until Su disappears.

However, unlike Legend 1997, this show doesn't end with Su's sacrifice. Rather, the lights all go out, and as the spotlight shines down, we see her step onto the smokey aisle newly reborn, and adorned in a magnificent golden dress and with a large crown on her head, looking like a true Queen. And as she's accompanied by a soft piano, Queen Su slowly makes her way to the fox stage, where she performs a slower, softer rendition of The One.

But then the song kicks in proper, and we see that Princess Moa has joined her Queen, making her way to that stage dressed in a similar attire, where the two resume the song in its more traditional form, looking like true royalty in front of their loyal followers. They then step back off for the main stage, where they make their way back up the stairs and exit through an open door at the top, signalling the closing of yet another chapter in Babymetal's lore.

All in all, this was an excellent show. And I love how, similar to Legend 1997, this show really upped the ante in terms of its theatrical presentation, and how they brought back a lot of elements from past shows as well, making the show feel like a celebration of Babymetal's history in addition to being a celebration of Su. It's a bit of a shame that the Kamis couldn't have been more utilized throughout, as none of their songs that feature their individual solos were performed on this night. And Yui's absence is perhaps more felt on this show than on any other, which makes it hard to review this show without bringing her up quite often (though her absence on this night and the way that Su and Moa worked around it does make for one of the most unique Babymetal experiences). However, despite these setbacks, this is still an outstanding show, one of the band's best, and one hell of a birthday celebration, if I do say so myself.

And so with that, I'm all caught up now, and this now marks the end of my reviews of the band's bigger shows (until they get around to officially releasing their next one, that is). However, I did want to share my thoughts on the band's journey through 2018 as well. So join me next time, as we'll take a look at their most recent year, and all of the changes the band has had to endure in order to keep moving forward and power through the unfortunate circumstances that they would be dealt early on in the year. See you!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Babymetal - The Five Fox Festival and Big Fox Festival

In 2017, Babymetal held a series of shows known as The Five Fox Festival, which, similar to The Black Mass and The Red Mass, featured specific fan stipulations with each show. Black Fox Festival was males only, Red Fox Festival was females only, Gold Fox Festival was teenagers only, Silver Fox Festival was elementary school children and ages 60 and up, and White Fox Festival required the dress code of wearing corpse paint.

Now granted, the audience specifications made a pretty big difference during the two Mass shows, but sadly, that same can't really be said for these shows, outside of perhaps the all female Red Fox Festival. The one I was most curious to see how it would look and sound was the Silver Fox Festival, but it turned out that they merely had a special seating area reserved for those age ranges, and the rest of the audience in the mosh'sh pit consisted of their usual crowd, which really confused the hell out of me when this show first started.

But whether it was that they dropped the volume on the audience, or you just couldn't hear them as well due to the venues they were performing in, that ferocious intensity we got out of the audiences for The Black Mass and The Red Mass was missing in these shows. That's not to say that these weren't still good shows mind you, just that the fan restrictions didn't quite play as noticeable a role in the overall shows this time around.

But anyways, as to the shows themselves, I'm just going to share my thoughts on what stood out to me in general for all five, rather than covering them each individually from start to finish. They all started with Babymetal Death, and I dug how they brought the curtain drop back for these shows, which I don't believe they've used in a couple of years by this point (at least not at any of their shows that I've seen from this time period that is).

On each show during Megitsune, they would take a breather to welcome the audience to that night's festival. Sometimes this came closer to the start of the show, but then on the Black, Red, and White shows, they didn't officially welcome the audience until halfway into the show when this song kicked in, which I got a bit of a kick out of.

Then we get to Gimme Chocolate, and while it's usually either Yui or Moa I catch mouthing along with someone else's lyrics when it isn't their turn to sing, for these Fox Festival shows, it was actually Su who I caught doing it this time, as she was mouthing along with Yui and Moa during their parts of this song on all five nights. I'm not sure if she's done this before and I just haven't noticed, but usually she tends to just smile and nod along during their parts, so it was really funny to see her break out of her usual mannerisms and sing along with those two. (And speaking of singing along, I caught Hideki singing along to Headbanger later on in the night of Black Fox Festival, too!)

On the nights in which they performed Awadama Fever, the Kami Band did their solos as a lead-in to that song, similar to how they normally do for Catch Me If You Can, which was really cool. I remember the first time I saw them do this before Awadama Fever, it really threw me off when that song kicked in instead of Catch Me If You Can (and I'd be lying if I said it didn't still throw me off on Red Fox Festival as well, even though I knew Awadama Fever was going to kick in once the Kami solos were done!) And on the Silver Fox Festival, I even noticed during their solos that Mikio and Ohmura had matching guitars! Sweet!

As far as solos for Su-metal and Black Babymetal, the first three nights they performed a different song out of the four they each had to choose from. On Black Fox Festival, Su performed Rondo of Nightmare, and Yui and Moa did Sis. Anger. Red Fox Festival saw Su performing Akatsuki, and Yui and Moa Song 4. Gold Fox Festival was Amore for Su, and GJ for Black Babymetal. And then Silver Fox Festival featured no solos from either of them at all.

So I was curious if they were gonna finish us off with No Rain, No Rainbow and Onedari Daisakusen, the only two solos they had yet to perform on these shows. But nope. Instead, we got a repeat of Amore from Su, and GJ from Yui and Moa. Granted, I sorta didn't actually expect to see No Rain, No Rainbow, as that's a pretty rare song to see them play live, but Onedari Daisakusen used to be a staple of the band's, so that one is a bit more surprising to see completely left off.

It was cool to see them close off Black Fox Festival with the duo of Headbanger and Ijime, Dame, Zettai, which helped give that night a bit of an old school feel. And I notice how they chose to close with this song on the men's show last time around during The Black Mass as well. I guess they feel it's a particularly masculine song? Heck, I ain't complaining!

And now I just have to mention Hideki's drum solo for Catch Me If You Can on the Gold Fox Festival. About halfway into his solo, Hideki suddenly stops, stands up, and he just looks out to the crowd and shrugs his shoulders, before sitting back down and resuming. Now, this wasn't quite the sick effect as the drum pause during the solo for this song back at O2 Academy Brixton, but rather, this was a much more comical moment this time around, and I seriously died laughing! And you could tell that the Kamis were all just generally having a lot of fun during this song on this night, too. It's always great to see the Kamis really getting into the music like this.

I got thrown off about halfway into Gold Fox Festival when Headbanger suddenly kicked in. I had to check and see if the show was almost over already, as that song usually comes on much later, but nope, we were only at the halfway point. And this would happen to me again during Silver Fox Festival when Road of Resistance started up only halfway into the show as well, which I'm used to seeing played as either an opener or a closer, as opposed to a midway song. So a couple of curious placements there.

But then for the last show, White Fox Festival, I perked up in my seat at the opening note of Syncopation. I knew this song was going to be on the Big Fox Festival, but it's another pretty uncommon song of theirs, so I honestly didn't expect to see it on one of these smaller shows. So that was a surprise to be sure, but a welcome one!

So yeah, those are my sporadic thoughts on these five shows. All were really fun, solid shows, but the band wasn't through with the Fox Festivals just yet, as they had the Big Fox Festival waiting for us still. And unlike The Five Fox Festival, as its name implies, Big Fox Festival was a much larger show, emanating from the much larger Osaka-Jo Hall.

Like Budokan, I had already seen this show before I had started reviewing all of these shows. But also like Budokan, it was due for a rewatch now with the context of all of the band's history in mind. And this show is notable now due to the fact that it marks the last appearance of Yuimetal performing with the band. The first time I watched this show, she hadn't yet officially announced her departure, so there was still hope that she may return. Yet a year after this show took place, that announcement was finally made, and she was no longer a part of the band, giving this night a new historical significance that definitely changed the context during this viewing.

But onto the show now, where we saw the Kamis performing solos in front of Awadama Fever during The Five Fox Festival, here they do their solo thing ahead of Yava, which even has a bit of a tropical flair to its sound. Really cool to see them experimenting with more ways to utilize the Kami Band and give them more opportunities to just jam out with the spotlight on them. The girls then rise up from beneath the stage, all smiles, and as they performed the song, the big screens behind them would display these really cool lightning effects on top of their live footage, making for an electrifying performance.

We move along to GJ, and it just hit me watching this performance that this was the last time we would see Black Babymetal. It just feels weird thinking about that now, and this song would go on to become a Moametal solo after this night. And now I'm suddenly really starting to feel Yui's departure.

I mentioned this song above, but as soon as that first guitar note hit for Syncopation, the crowd went wild, and understandably so. I'm never not gonna gush over just how sick a song this is, and their performance on this night was just so utterly bad ass, and reeling with intensity.

This was then followed up by yet another one of my all time favorite performances from the band with Meta Taro. And in fact, it's their performance on this night that's the reason I'm left gasping with excitement anytime I hear this song start up on any of their shows now.

I keep mentioning in my other reviews how this song feels larger than life and atmospheric whenever they perform it live, and that feeling is never more the case than on this show. Particularly when we get to the call-and-response, and then the music cuts out for a moment as the fans all sing the song back up the band on the stage, the song just sounds like the sort of epic track that you'd hear in a blockbuster Pirates film or something, and I feel almost as if I'm transported onto the sea itself watching this performance. This is definitely their best performance of this song, and really, as grand and sweeping as they make this song feel, I'd say it's up there among the band's best all around performances period at that.

The cool effects work on the big screens came into play again during Karate, in which the girls were made to look as if a fiery aura was glowing around them. And it was nice to see Yui and Moa bust out their handy smoke guns one more time during Headbanger. It feels like it's been a while since we've seen those, too.

Then we get to this show's closer, The One, and now's when it really starts hitting me hard again, as I watch and realize that this is it, this is Yui's last performance with the band. But she couldn't have left on a more fitting note. Because just as we all are, no matter where she may be or what she may be doing now, she too will always remain a part of The One, as the show ends on the image of the three girls raising their kitsunes in the air towards one another before the lights cut out.

So all in all, yeah, this was another really damn great show with some really fine performances throughout, even if I almost feel like this review winded up being a bit of a downer in places. But I suppose that's hard to avoid now, all things considered. It's still hard to believe that this was it for Yui, and that I've finally reached the end of the line for her performances with the band. A part of me still expects to move on to the next show and see her show up again like normal. But nope, I know that's not going to happen, as the next big show after this was performed with Su and Moa alone. But we'll discuss that more in-depth in my next review, as we move on to Su-metal's hometown of Hiroshima and celebrate her 20th at Legend S. See you!

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Babymetal - Live at Tokyo Dome

We've finally made it to the end of the road to Tokyo Dome, in what is by far Babymetal's biggest show to date. And we start things off with another rare appearance by Kobametal, who we haven't seen since Budokan. He tells us that this show will take place over the course of two nights, and that during those two nights, there will be no repeat performances of any song, and there's no telling which song will play on which night, making both nights of this massive show must see events.

And boy, when I tell you this show is big, that's putting it mildly. The stage set-up alone is almost overwhelming, and feels like the set-up from Budokan on steroids. It's a massive round stage in the center of the venue, which would at times spin around for all the audience surrounding them to see, and which featured three separate runways that jutted out into the audience on either side. But it's also a multi-layered stage, with a second stage several stories directly above the main stage, almost touching the ceiling.

And the first song of the first night, Red Night, starts out on that upper stage, as the girls come out wearing gold and black as opposed to their usual red and black, and carrying their flags for Road of Resistance, as they take to their individual platforms facing the different sides of the crowd. Such a strong way to open up this show in a big way. And once we get to the sing-along portion of the song, guitarist Mikio Fujioka was singing along as well with his guitar, playing the tune along with the fans while the Kamis played to the crowd and bought the girls enough time to make their way down to the main stage.

This was pretty cool to hear, as I haven't seen any of them play the guitar in tune with the fans quite like this during this part in any of their other performances. And in this brief gap as they were waiting for the girls to make their way down, you could really see how the Kamis were all just taking in the sheer scope of the venue, which was absolutely breathtaking. Moa was even moved to tears during this performance, which marks the second time now that I've caught her getting emotional during a performance of this song. And the show's only just begun!

The first spinning action of the night came during Yava, in which the girls were spun around on the stage to face the various sides of the crowd as they performed their choreography in place, ultimately winding back up where they started by the end of the song. So impressive how they're able to keep their balance and not miss a beat despite moving around and dancing like they do on a moving platform like that.

And I freaking screamed when Syncopation started! I have never been so damn jealous of a song in my life! Now, I understand the reasoning behind this song being a Japanese exclusive, but that doesn't make me any less envious that this song wasn't released internationally, because hot damn is this just about the sickest, most kick ass song in this band's entire library. Imagine the most bad ass anime opener to the most bad ass anime imaginable, and you almost come close to just precisely how bad ass this song really is. And to see it performed live here made me shake with excitement!

We get an extended, angelic sounding symphonic introduction to Amore, until Su appears in the center of the upper stage, while the big screens display the image of an angel's wings on either side of her. Then the song kicks in, and fire starts blasting up from the lower stage, almost reaching all the way up to the upper stage. So already this performance is filled with so many awesome effects. But man, I tell you, the power of Su-metal's voice seriously drove me to tears on this performance. She was definitely pushing herself to another level on this night, and she got so into her performances that, later on in the evening during Gimme Chocolate, she even almost missed her cue to resume their dance after she was running around playing to the crowd so wildly.

Speaking of playing to the crowd, the Kamis got back in on that action again during the lead-in to GJ. And on this evening, they even changed things up a bit by introducing a brief call-and-response moment to the song. Granted, the call-and-response on this song felt a bit awkward compared to most, which is probably why I can't recall them doing it again (they've never done it on any of the other performances that I've seen so far at least), but it's still cool to see them trying new things all the same.

I mentioned during my review of The Black Mass how Rondo of Nightmare almost feels incomplete without Mischiefs of Metal Gods preceding it, and honestly, the same rings true on this night. At first I was disappointed that they had to leave the song off this show, despite being such a big show (the only reason it got left off of The Black Mass was because that was a significantly shorter show). However, as I would come to later find out, they in fact did include the Kami Band solo, only they played it on the second night of this show, and used it as a lead-in to Akatsuki instead. Kinda curious why they decided to do that, but alas, as far as this night's performance of Rondo of Nightmare was concerned, it was still an excellent performance, as Su performed it cast under a red light and spinning around the stage, as fire burned all around her, making for a lot of really awesome visuals throughout.

Moving along to Song 4, and this time out, when Yui and Moa were playing to the crowd, this part had to be stretched out quite a bit, as they had a much farther distance to cover as they made their way around such a massive stage. As such, there was a lot more talking to the crowd, and I kept noticing how after one of them would say something, the other would often respond with this really cute “Yay!” God what I wouldn't give to have subtitles for this stuff.

I also find it funny how during their live performances, the band will often let some of their longer six minute epics run upwards of ten minutes. Song 4 isn't even one of their longer songs, let alone one of their epics, and is in fact one of the band's sillier songs at that. And yet their performance of this song on this night came close to clocking in at eight minutes in length. How's that for silly? God I love their live version of this song so much!

The Kamis took to the runways for the Catch Me If You Can solos (and this was the first time I ever felt a little sorry for Hideki Aoyama, who was stuck on the main stage for his drum solo, unable to venture out like his Kami brethren). And then the girls each appeared on the far ends of the three runways, making their way to the main stage where they skipped and ran around the edge of the stage as they performed the first half of the song.

They then incorporated a call-and-response moment to give all three a chance to all get back together again (which, I love how despite the fact that Yui and Moa speak to this Japanese crowd in Japanese, Su insists on speaking to them in English). And this time out, rather than the death voice piping in, they let Yui and Moa sing “Miitsuketa”, which was just so damn adorable. All together again, the three were then spun around the stage for the remainder of this song, and god, I'm just left shaking my head by just how much they were able to do and accomplish with this performance. It's truly impressive just how versatile the live version of this song has become from show to show, and this performance quite possibly comes close to topping their Makuhari Messe 2014 performance for me.

Moving along, and we get to what I believe is the one and only performance of the song Tales of the Destinies. The band has always experimented with blending genres and even genre hopping mid-song, with prime examples of this including Doki Doki Morning, Iine, and Song 4. And their second album took us on a tour exploring various sub-genres of metal with each and every song. And this song feels like the natural evolution of those earlier songs, as well as their second album's conception of genre exploration, as this song is just constantly changing up into different speeds and styles of metal throughout, in what has got to be hands down this band's most complex song to date. So much so that Su has even mentioned in interviews how she was concerned as to how they were even going to pull off performing this song live, which probably also lends to why this is such a rare song to see them play.

But needless to say, they pulled this song off flawlessly here, and their performance of this song is one of my favorite performances of theirs, period. There's just so much to unpack here, it's almost overwhelming, which makes the fact that it's being performed here at the Tokyo Dome so fitting. There's so many little moments that I love about this performance, from Yui's and Moa's countdowns, to the way they take turns hopping into position in tune with the music after the fact (not to mention that awesome aerial shot of them doing so later in the song). And they even keep in mind their kawaii roots for a brief section when Yui and Moa do this real adorable little dance alongside this fancy little piano number. Each section of this song just feels so big, and keeps building on top of each other, making for one of their most incredible pieces to date.

The song then ends with this peaceful piano tune, which directly leads into this evening's closer. Now, earlier in the night, Kobametal had informed the audience to brace their necks for this evening, as everyone in attendance was provided with a neck brace. And we saw this come into play in a big way here, as the lights went out and those neck braces started to shine brightly, making for a really awesome spectacle as a sea of people lit up in the dark venue, and everyone in attendance became a part of the show for The One.

The girls appeared on the far ends of the runways in their shiny golden cloaks, as they slow-walked their way back to the main stage, where the bulk of this performance took place. We then see that this huge stage has even more tricks still left up its sleeve, as the girls then stepped out onto individual platforms just off the runways, and those platforms then began to move, taking the girls for a slow ride up and down the runway as they sang along with the audience for an extended period of time, before the night ended with a show of fireworks on the main stage, and a message that this show was to be continued.

And continue we shall, as we now move on to night two, Black Night. The girls are back in their classic black and red on this night, which is fitting, as this night definitely has more of an old school feel for them as compared to the first night. And the night starts with Babymetal Death, where we see that Su has been crucified yet again, and this time Yui and Moa have been crucified along with her, as the three are raised from the far ends of the three runways on their separate crosses. They then spring back to life as the song kicks in, and they're transported to the main stage on the moving platforms to complete the song together.

We then get to Meta Taro, and this stage continues to surprise yet, as for the beginning of this song, it was the inner stage where the Kamis are playing on that was spinning around this time. And I mentioned in my Wembley review how I was looking forward to the band incorporating their call-and-response moment with this song, and well, I didn't have to wait long, as it comes into play on this show, and man does it ever make this song just feel so damn big and atmospheric.

This night gave us the big show debut of Black Babymetal's black metal song, Sis. Anger, which is by far this duo's darkest song yet, and which is also reflected in their choreography. I loved the live vocals for this song, which gave it an added depth as compared to the studio version. And this performance also saw a number of cool effects, such as when fire would erupt from the stage whenever the two would kick out during their dance, and how the two took off to their separate runways to perform the song separately for the second half. This was just a really great introduction to the big stage for this song.

As I mentioned before, the Kamis took to the runway to perform Mischiefs of Metal Gods on this night in front of Akatsuki, but it was also at this moment when I noticed that Mikio had apparently tagged out, and we got Leda in his place playing guitar on this night instead. I thought that was cool though, and I'm glad that all of the main Kami members got a chance to experience such a special occasion performing at the Tokyo Dome.

We got another beautiful rendition of No Rain, No Rainbow on this evening, in which Su started off on the runway, making her way back to the main stage as she sang this song. Then as we get to the first big guitar section, Su took that time to move up to the upper stage, where the spotlight shined down on her and fog filled the area around her feet, as she belted out the remainder of the song from up above.

Yui and Moa then joined Su on the upper stage, and they performed Doki Doki Morning, the song that started it all, as they stood on top of the world. It's just so amazing to see how far this band has come by this point, and watching them perform this song on this night just puts the biggest smile on my face. And I think the smile that Su gave at the end of this performance really just says it all.

There was an awesome extended call-and-response moment during Megitsune, really getting the crowd into it. And then Yui and Moa playing to the crowd during Headbanger was also extended compared to usual as well. And it's here where I realize just how many of these sorts of moments had to be stretched out solely to accommodate performing on such a gargantuan stage, and how long it takes them to get from one side of it to the other. And this was never more apparent than when we see how long it took Yui and Moa to run at full speed across those runways during their Wall of Death for Ijime, Dame, Zettai.

Speaking of, I think it's really cool that despite Ijime, Dame, Zettai slipping down the set list in favor of newer closers such as Road of Resistance and The One, they decided to close off their biggest show yet with their original closer. And then afterwards, hell, it took them longer than some of their songs to get to every side of the stage and see the fans off. This night also featured the infamous moment where Su epically trolled Moa, where she first handed the mic to Yui to yell out “We are!”, then teased handing it to Moa, only to pull it back yell it out herself, pointing and laughing as Moa had to use her own personal mic instead.

It's all in good fun though, and as the girls ran back to the stage, the Kamis all came out and just went to town playing to the fans, as the girls rose up to the upper stage, where the biggest gong yet was awaiting them. And Su rang that gong, signaling the end of yet another triumphant episode in Babymetal's saga.

Over the two nights, they performed all but one of their songs up to this point, that one being From Dusk Till Dawn (aka, the song we got instead of Syncopation internationally), which like Tales of the Destinies, they've only ever performed once (yet unlike Tales of the Destinies, it wasn't performed on a professionally shot show, meaning the only footage that exists of it is what fans at the venue that evening had recorded and uploaded). And all in all, this was just an amazing show. I'd probably say that I preferred Red Night over Black Night, but really, while a show like Budokan was cool for being a two-nighter, that one didn't really need to take place over two nights. The same can't be said for their Tokyo Dome show however, which simply couldn't be done in just one night. But for this special occasion, they went all out and put on the absolute biggest show possible, and they absolutely delivered in a big, big way. Simply put, this show is a must see. See you!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Babymetal - Live at Wembley

Moving on to probably the band's biggest international show to date, Babymetal took to the stage at the famous Wembley Arena in London to kick off their 2016 World Tour in a huge way. This was also probably their longest single night show so far, as they introduced quite a number of new songs from their new album Metal Resistance on this night as well.

In terms of stage set-up, it was honestly very similar to Legend 2015, featuring a main stage and a bridge running down the center of the venue leading to a smaller center stage. And the girls started things off by crossing that bridge and performing Babymetal Death on that smaller stage. And let's just say it was sorta nuts seeing those three running around on such a small stage, as they barely had any room to move around one another at that point in the song.

Still remaining on the small stage, they moved on to Awadama Fever. On this song though, I noticed how the fans appeared to be muted, and honestly, the first time around, I actually questioned if there was perhaps some sort of audio issue that required them to have to dub the studio version over their performance. I had to go back and watch it again prior to this write-up in fact, listening especially carefully this time out. But upon second viewing, no, the audio's definitely live here. But holy crap is it a testament to this band's ability when I can watch their performance and can't tell the difference between their live and studio quality.

If you recall from my World Tour 2014 review, I mentioned how they had started incorporating a symphonic lead-in to Akatsuki. Well they did that here again, and they appear to have extended it this time out, which is pretty cool. But then the song kicks in proper, and in the jaw-dropping moment of the night, Su ran through fire across the bridge to the main stage as the bridge was set aflame! Just, such an awesome, awesome visual!

Black Babymetal came out next, and they introduced us to one of their new tracks (and probably my favorite Black Babymetal song at that), GJ. And it's interesting seeing it being performed with both Moa and Yui on stage, as I've honestly become used to this being a Moametal solo by this point, but that probably just comes from me becoming a fan so late in the game. But this is just another great fun and infectiously catchy song, with some really cool choreography to boot, and I'm glad to see it finally added to the set list here.

That awesome silhouette effect for Catch Me If You Can returned on this evening (though I'd say I prefer the Makuhari Messe version still), so that was pretty neat to see again. And then I found myself gasping once more at the introduction of another new song as soon as Meta Taro kicked in. This is another example similar to Song 4 where on the album, this song isn't necessarily my favorite to listen to, but boy do I dig the hell out of it whenever they perform it live.

It's a viking metal song, and it has this really unique pirate-esque choreography that's both really cute and really cool. And they just have a way of taking this song and making it feel so atmospheric and larger than life. This is especially so on occasions where they incorporate a call-and-response moment to the song, though that didn't happen on that particular night. But that does leave me looking forward to seeing this song come up again in upcoming shows, to see just when they decided to incorporate that aspect into the live version of this song.

Speaking of Song 4 though, their performance of this song on this show is quite possibly my favorite performance of the song yet. It started out with this really silly Star Wars style opening (may the 4th be with us all indeed!), and with the stage set-up, it's honestly very similar to the way they performed the song at Legend 2015, with them running to every side of the arena before crossing over the bridge and ending things in the middle of the audience. But on this night, I just couldn't get enough of their adorable English as they played to the fans, which really elevated the cute factor of the song as well. Loved it!

Su's got a new solo to debut on this night as well, as she stands on the stage while the image of an angel's wings appear behind her. And from the very first note of Amore, I could already feel it in my chest. This was another beautiful solo from Su, as well as being another new opportunity to shine the spotlight down on the Kami Band for a handful of instrumental solos of their own during the song. And I loved how near the end, Su just dropped to a knee, and the song just sorta paused for a moment. And then she slowly stood back up to her feet, softly resuming the song at first, before it kicked back into full gear proper once more. Just a really awesome way all around to debut this new song.

The full English version of The One was being performed on this night. And as we get to this song, now's where I have to make my token mention of this band getting me all teary eyed and emotional during one of their performances. Now, usually it's the band who goes out of their way to do something special for the fans on these big shows. But on this night, it was actually the fans who went out of their way to show a gesture of gratitude for the band, as during this song, fans from all over the world held up flags from their home countries, showing just how far and wide their fanbase reached, and just how far abroad many had traveled just to see them on this occasion.

And you could see it on the girls' faces as they were spun around on the center stage just how touched they were by this gesture. As much as this band plans out their events well in advance, they obviously didn't plan on a moment such as this, and it was a really sweet and affecting moment to see play out.

The show then closed out strong with yet another chilling performance of Road of Resistance. And then afterwards, rather than just immediately seeing the fans off, the girls actually took a moment to really soak it all in, before each taking turns addressing the audience in English, really showing their own appreciation for the fans on this evening. This was just really cool to see them do, and a great send off to yet another phenomenal show.

So yeah, what more is there to say? The band just keeps getting better and better, and their shows just keep getting bigger and bigger. And up next, we'll be taking a look at what is quite possibly the band's biggest show to date, as they'll be emanating from the world famous Tokyo Dome in another two night event, and I can't wait to see it for myself. See you!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Babymetal - 2015 Trilogy

I already covered the first part of Babymetal's 2015 Trilogy in my Legend 2015 review, so now I'm going to discuss the next two major events that took place in this year which completes the Trilogy of big shows the band held in Japan, those being their shows at Makuhari Messe and the Yokohama Arena.

First up, their Makuhari Messe show, which took place on this really cool giant triangle stage, which had all sorts of pyro and smoke effects erupting from around the stage all throughout. I first noticed this on Gimme Chocolate, in which fire was erupting around them throughout, which is an effect we don't usually see during this particular song, but certainly set the stage for a fiery evening to come.

At this point it feels like there's always at least one token song per show that I have to mention being the one to get my feelings really kicking into gear and getting me all misty eyed, and on this particular occasion, that song happened to be Doki Doki Morning. Maybe it's because we're starting to get later in their years now, and yet the song is still going strong. And maybe it's because I've seen a number of those "Road to Tokyo Dome" compilations showing footage of this song being performed over the years, leading up to that inevitable event, showcasing not only the evolution of the song, but of the band as well, and how far they've come since first introducing that initial song of theirs way back when. But the further along we go, this one's starting to hit me in a much different way than it did on their earlier shows, and I'm perfectly okay with that!

We move along now, and we get to Song 4, and damn, I really wish I knew what Yui and Moa were saying to the crowd on these Japanese shows while they're running around the stage playing up to them during this song. Whatever it is, as always, they're having a blast out there, and the crowd is completely eating it all up.

Yava got introduced to the set list on this night, and I found myself oohing when the song started. Another favorite of mine to see them perform live, with an awesome ska-metal beat and some really fun choreography to match, and it did not disappoint in this initial performance. And I also like how, by this point at least, the band just keeps adding songs to the set list on these big shows as more are being introduced, yet at least as of here, they've yet to remove any of their previous songs from the set, so the shows just keep getting bigger and bigger.

As a result of introducing new songs however, that does mean that some of their original closing numbers, including Ijime, Dame, Zettai, are appearing earlier in the set than before. And, well, I neglected to mention this during my rundown of The Red Mass, but it happened here as well, so I suppose I'll bring it up now, but it does sound a bit strange when Ijime, Dame, Zettai just ends, and they don't interact with the fans immediately afterwards, as we've become so used to seeing them do after that song. The fact that they've also seemingly stopped doing encores by this point also adds into that, as they used to play this song just prior to the encore at times, so they could at least tease the crowd with a departure, but I suppose that's out now too.

But on this occasion, Road of Resistance has once again taken the closing slot. It was pretty cool to see all the girls elevated in the air on their separate platforms during this song while they were singing with the fans, and I'm pretty sure I caught Moa even getting choked up looking out at the sea of adoring fans all around. All in all, this was another excellent show, though no "See you!" from the girls at the end did catch me as curious on this particular night.

Next up, their show at the Yokohama Arena, which saw the band performing on a big stage with a massive setup behind them featuring three Egyptian sphinx structures in fox masks, making for a real kick ass setting. And I also noticed how on this night, Yui and Moa got the backs of their tutus extended out like tails on the back of them. Su's worn this style before in past shows, but it's cool to see Yui and Moa getting to sport this look as well here.

The show opened with Babymetal Death, and this time I noticed both Moa and Yui mouthing along with the death voice during this song. I love this sorta thing whenever I catch it, seeing the girls up there just really getting into their songs. Always brings a smile to my face.

And that playful level of getting into their songs definitely came into play again in a number of their other performances here, such as Gimme Chocolate, which features a particularly adorable call-and-response from the girls, and Awadama Fever, in which the girls were screaming out to the crowd at various times throughout (and like with my thoughts on Song 4 above, really left me wishing I knew what they were actually saying here!).

But then we get to Iine, and this time I noticed just how into it the Kami Band gets during the rap section, as they're all back there playing to the crowd as well now. Really, it's just so awesome seeing the whole band up there just having the time of their lives putting on these huge shows. And see, just thinking about it as I'm writing down these thoughts is getting me all misty eyed all over again.

We've got another new song on this show, that being the introduction of Karate to the set list. And like a few other notable key songs in the past, this one's introduction gets the storyline video hype treatment. This is such a cool song, with the choreography featuring a lot of fittingly martial arts inspired movements throughout, and telling this story about picking yourself up when in the face of conflict, and being able to conquer your demons.

That said, through no fault on the girls' part, this wasn't the strongest introduction for this song, as something appeared to be off with Yui's and Moa's audio, like the volume on their mics had been dropped quite a bit or something. However, by the time Su was helping Moa and Yui back to their feet near the end, sure enough they won me over all the same, taking to heart the message of this song and allowing for their physical performances to power through the technical issues at play here.

Moving on, we get to Megitsune, and I'd just like to note how by this point, you can definitely tell just how much Su's voice is really maturing now, and it always seems to be during Megitsune where this maturation really stands out the most to me. And also on this occasion, there was a moment where Su just kinda stops for a brief second to look out to the crowd, and she gives this real genuine smile as she's just taking it all in. Again, moments like this, these small little human moments sprinkled into their otherwise highly pre-planned performances are part of what makes this band feel so special.

Some other sporadic things that stood out to me on this show included this really sick aerial shot during the fight dance sequence in Ijime, Dame, Zettai, and for Headbanger, while the girls may not have had smoke guns on hand this time out, the giant sphinx statues behind them had their back, as they proceeded to breathe out smoke through the mouths of their fox masks, which was just a real awesome effect. And as we've come to the conclusion of yet another year in Babymetal's saga, this time, rather than Headbanger, it was after Road of Resistance where they sounded the gong to bring this chapter to a close, and start anew once more.

... But of course, we still weren't done yet. This show finally saw them adding enough new songs to where some of their older ones couldn't be fit on the show, so that sadly meant no Song 4 or Akatsuki on this evening. However, Karate wasn't the only new addition being introduced to the set on this show, as the girls had a truly special moment in store for us, with the debut of their new song The One.

After being built up for about a year, The One finally made its debut in grand order. Just hearing the majestic tune starting up in the lead-in to the actual performance, as smoke continued to billow out of the fox masks, was already getting me choked up. Triangles have been a consistent element during this whole Trilogy, and so the girls stepped out, all wearing these shiny cloaks, and keeping in with both the triangle element, as well as the Egyptian theme of the setting, they entered a triangle-shaped pyramid platform, which was then raised into the air and floated above the audience as they were taken for a ride all over the entire arena, and performed the song looking out over the fans below them.

I've seen this performance before on its own, and I've always thought it was nice. But now seeing it again here, with the context of its full year of being built up to, yeah, it hit me pretty hard this time around. And that's something I've noticed quite a bit as I've gone back and watched all of these shows, catching up on this band from the very beginning. The more I learn about this band, and the more I follow their journey up to these key milestones in their career, the more they really pack a wallop.

Similarly, as highly as I spoke of their Legend 2015 performance of Road of Resistance, that performance never really hit me as hard as it did after I had the full context leading into that particular show. And so now when I hear that performance, well just recently when I was merely listening to that performance playing in the background while I was working on other things, it still legitimately drew tears out of me. And that same thing I've found happening on a lot of their songs now in a similar way, and this was certainly the case for The One on this show as well.

This was also an early version of the song, where half of it was still being sung in Japanese, as opposed to fully in English, which was a little weird, as I've become so used to the English version. But even so, this was still a spectacle to behold, and a truly marvelous performance of this song that was written for and about the fans.

So there you have it, the Trilogy is now complete! And while I'd still probably say that Legend 2015 was the best of these show, parts 2 and 3 were still fantastic shows in their own right. And keeping in line with the element of threes, their final show of this Trilogy ended with three major announcements, including the announcement of their second album, Metal Resistance, as well as their next major shows in the coming year to take place at Wembley Arena and the Tokyo Dome. So join me, if you will, as we move onto those major events next!

And now, on a bit of a personal note, but I had vaguely alluded to making a big move in my life in some of my earlier Babymetal reviews, and let's just say that this past week, I went ahead and made that move, moving across the country and keeping busy getting myself situated, so I've been a bit more preoccupied than I normally would have been. I actually watched these shows over a week before I was even able to get around to sitting down and writing my review for them, so you'll have to forgive me if the reviews at all appear perhaps any less detailed than I would have personally hoped.

But needless to say, things are looking pretty good as far as my present prospects are concerned (and I promise I'll stop speaking so vaguely about everything at some point!), so it's looking like this move was for the best after all. And as far as my reviews of these shows are concerned, I certainly intend to continue to keep up with them, as I'm way in too deep and can't stop now, though they'll perhaps be a little more spread out moving forward. But we'll see! See you!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Babymetal - Black Mass, Red Mass, and Metrock 2015

Up next, we've got a series of shows that are really more about the audience than they even are about the band. First, let's discuss a couple of special exclusive events the band held for their fans, The Black Mass, and The Red Mass.

Split up into two separate nights, The Black Mass was a show where all attendees had to be males, and they had to be wearing face paint matching the Kami Band, and The Red Mass took place the following evening, where all the attendees on this night had to be females dressed in red. An interesting concept, having fan specific nights (something the band would continue to explore in another series of shows down the road, but we'll get there when we get there), but it certainly made for a couple of very unique experiences. Though that said, these are also slightly shorter sets than we've become accustomed to from the band by this point, so not every song on their usual set list at this time made the cut. And let's just say that the live version of Rondo of Nightmare, while still a lovely performance for The Black Mass, did feel incomplete without Mischiefs of Metal Gods preceding it.

In addition to these fan stipulations, the shows also took place in smaller venues again, making for a much more intimate atmosphere. And it's also neat now how the band finally has enough songs to where they can do back to back shows like this, and not have to have pretty much the exact same set list, just with the song order changed up, which aided in making each night stand apart from one another, with song choices that appeared to be tailored to their particular audience.

The Black Mass opened up with the curtains being pulled open, as our girls were already on stage with their flags in hand, and kicked off in epic form with Road of Resistance. And already, I could tell this was gonna be an awesome show just from the crowd interactions, where they would shout back along with Yui's and Moa's vocals in unison, sounding almost like a war cry every time. And the men's shouting continued in this manner on many songs, such as Uki Uki Midnight, adding this added layer of intensity that really complimented the songs in an awesome way.

Then we get to Megitsune, and there's this thing that I love that the girls oftentimes do on their smaller shows. When we get to the part where Su's holding the mask up to her face, she and Moa will sometimes do something to try to make the other laugh. Like I said, you don't always see this in their bigger shows that are being professionally shot, but you catch it quite often on fan videos recorded on their smaller shows.

However, these shows happened to catch them in the act on a pro-shoot, which was a real delight to see, as Su did something behind her mask on The Black Mass to make Moa burst out laughing just before she jumped back into her dance. But that was okay, because the following night, Moa got Su back by sticking her tongue out during this moment of the song. These are the kinds of things I really love about this band, despite how highly choreographed and planned out their shows are, those girls still go up there and goof around and have fun at times, and yet not only does it never get in the way of the show, it actually adds to the charm of their act, just seeing that the girls are up there having so much genuine fun doing what they're doing.

To speak on The Red Mass now, as I said before, the difference in the audience specifications really made for a pair of unique shows, and this was never more evident than during the all women's show. Right away you can tell the difference, as hearing all those girls screaming their heads off shouting along with the band made for a very different sound than what we've come to normally expect from the crowds at this band's events, and also highlights just how much of their audience usually consists mostly of males.

Probably the best audience interactions from both shows came during Ijime, Dame, Zettai, as these crowds once again sang in unison with Yui's and Moa's parts, creating this awesome effect where it was like Yui and Moa transcended as One with the audience, as the fans really emphasized the whole "scream" part of Yui's and Moa's official "scream and dance" title. But where you could at least still hear Yui's and Moa's voices during The Black Mass, on The Red Mass, with the women screaming back to them, Yui's and Moa's voices actually got completely lost in the mix during this song, so it really did feel like Su was singing with the fans as her backup vocalists, which really was cool as hell to see and hear.

One last thing I'd like to say before moving on is how the ladies totally outdid the men's adorable attempt at creating a Wall of Death on their show. The cramped quarters certainly didn't work in the men's favor on this occasion! But alas, these were definitely a pair of really fun as hell shows, and the fans really were a big part of that. And, well, let's just say that the fans being a big part of making a show special comes into play once again in a major, major way in this next show I'll be discussing.

So probably the most recommended show of theirs by most people that I've seen so far is from their set on the Metrock 2015 festival. I was curious what it could be about this set that makes it come so highly recommended, but needless to say, it didn't take long for me to see precisely what all the hype was about.

Right off the bat, the audience for this show is on a whole other level. I have never seen such a massive sea of people who were as in unison with one another as this crowd. Truly, this was The One personified, and both the girls and the Kamis appeared to be in genuine awe by this audience throughout.

The Kamis especially, just seeing their reactions by this crowd from the very get-go, you could see that they could tell this was something else, something special. And when we got to the Kami Band's solos for Catch Me If You Can, you could tell that they were riding the high of this crowd's energy. The guitarists were hovering playfully around Boh during his bass solo, really channeling the girls' usual playfulness on this occasion, which I've never seen them do like this before. And as to their drummer, Hideki Aoyama, he was just going to town on those double basses for his solo during The Red Mass, but he got so into it during Metrock that he actually tossed his drumsticks out to the crowd before retrieving another pair, which I got a huge kick out of!

And there were so many massive circle pits going on, I've seriously never seen circle pits of that size, let alone that many of them. And as impressive as the Walls of Death were on Legend 2015, the ones we saw here definitely take the cake. Seeing so many people charging at one another all at once was like seeing ants spill out of an ant bed after somebody just kicked the hill over.

So yeah, Metrock definitely lives up to the hype, this audience's energy is seriously off the charts, and seeing that wave of kitsunes pumping through the air in unison is unlike anything I've ever seen before. Just an awesome sight, and an awesome show, and it's awesome to see so many people showing such die hard love, dedication, and respect to such an amazing band, and it's awesome to see just how touched the band was in turn by the awesome show of appreciation the audience put on for them.

But anyways, that's all I've really got for this series of shows. Again, believe the hype, and definitely check them out if you haven't yet seen them. And as for next time, join me as I complete the Trilogy of the band's bigger shows that they held in 2015. See you!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Babymetal - Legend 2015

It's a new year, and we're starting things off strong with a new Legend, as Legend 2015 emanates from the Saitama Super Arena in Japan. At the beginning of their 2014 World Tour, the girls launched off in their space coffins at the end of Budokan in order to travel across the Metal Galaxy. But now that the World Tour has ended, we see this show start off with those space coffins landing back in Japan, as the girls step back out and onto a stage in front of thousands of roaring fans.

The stage set-up was pretty neat this time out, as in addition to their main stage, they also had two smaller stages off to either side, with these cool little bridges that lead to them. But then they also had a much larger bridge that would descend from the rafters at times, and which would lead to another smaller stage in the center of the venue, where the girls would be surrounded all around by the crowd in attendance.

We kicked things off with Megitsune, as the girls, adorned in kimonos and holding up fox masks in front of their faces, crossed that large bridge to open the show on that smaller center stage, getting up close with the fans for a strong start to the evening. They then jumped into Iine next, and this time out, when we got to the rap section of the song, they actually sang the lyrics from the studio version of this song, which they haven't done since their early early years. I saw their commentary track on the Iine music video a little while back, and I remember how when we got to that section, they commented how it had been a long time since they actually sang that part of the song live, and mentioned how they should probably bring it back sometime. So I'm curious how long after that commentary was recorded that they did this show, where they indeed brought it back.

Next up was Awadama Fever, and I seriously gasped when this song started up. This song isn't even new to me, yet seeing it being performed as a new song on this show just made me absolutely giddy. And on top of that, the lyrics and the choreography for this song are just so much damn fun, my eyes started welling up from it. Funny how often that tends to happen when I'm watching this band.

Once it was time we got to Catch Me If You Can, they had the big LED screen set-up behind them again, so I thought they might try and do that silhouette trick again here. But nope, they managed to change things up in a different way this time, as the three girls appeared on different stages, playing to different sides of the crowd on the massive venue, with Yui and Moa starting the song out on the two smaller side stages, before making their way over the bridges to join Su on the main stage for the remainder of the song.

And speaking on Yui and Moa, those two just continue to outdo themselves with Song 4, as they ran off to all sides of the building to play up to the crowd, before the big bridge lowered back down for them to cross over onto the center stage where they kept the party going amidst the crowd as they finished the rest of the song there. I swear, seeing those two running around playing to the crowd is just the best damn thing in the world.

Then it was Su's turn next with Rondo of Nightmare. She started the song on that center stage, only to step onto the bridge and have it raise her high above the crowd, as she continued to belt out her solo, looking down over her amassed army all around her like a Queen. Seeing her elevated high in the air like that made for such an awesome visual.

Yui and Moa busted out their smoke guns again on this night's rendition of Headbanger, though they appeared to be far less powerful than before this time out. And on this night, I haven't noticed her doing this before, but during both Headbanger and later on during Ijime, Dame, Zettai, I noticed Yui was mouthing along with Su's vocals during those songs, which I got a decent kick out of.

Moving on now to Ijime, Dame, Zettai, the audience formed their Walls of Death prior to the song, and these had to be some of the most impressive Walls of Death I've seen on any of their shows yet, and it was a truly awesome sight to see just such a mass of people crashing into each other after the song kicked in. Then the song's going along, and we get to the part where Yui and Moa do their fight dance. And Jesus Christ, when Yui comes back on the attack against Moa, she freaking runs and jump kicked over Moa. Holy crap, my jaw hit the floor when that happened! Yuimetal, you are a bad ass!

As is usually the norm by this point, they see the fans off after Ijime, Dame, Zettai, but of course we're not done, as we've gotta come back for the encore. And the sequence of songs they chose for this particular encore is seriously this band in a nutshell. Starting with Babymetal Death, then moving straight onto Doki Doki Morning and closing things off with Road of Resistance, this showcases how this band is both metal and kick ass, yet they're silly and they're fun, and also how they're absolutely and undeniably epic, and they know how to put on an unforgettable spectacle of a show.

And for this performance of Road of Resistance, take everything I said about that song from their O2 Academy Brixton show, and crank that up to 11. Queen Su simply holds this audience in the palm of her hand, as she solely makes the decree for the seas to part without having to utter a single word, and the audience adheres to her every command. And they continue to be the ever loyal subjects, obediently singing along as the girls cross back over that bridge once more, carrying their flags and singing their battle cry.

The crowd participation element that they really introduced on their 2014 World Tour is fully realized on this show, and that's never more evident than when all music shut off and the band turned the spotlight onto the fans for an extended period of time to sing the song back to them, truly becoming The One in that moment. I've noticed how in a number of the band's later shows, they really go out of their way to really make the audience a part of the show, and I feel that this was the true starting point of bringing the fans into the mold in that regard, which was perfectly symbolized through this show's use of all these bridges.

For all the metalheads out there who still like to say that this band isn't real metal, and that they're just a gimmick, I for the life of me can't comprehend how you can watch a performance like this and still somehow come away claiming they aren't the real deal. Because this isn't just one of the band's overall best performances that I've seen yet, it's one of the most awesome, most epic, and most metal performances I've ever seen in the entire genre. Truly, this was an outstanding performance, and I give a well earned standing ovation to these girls on this night!

It's just simply amazing how much this band not only continues to raise the bar for themselves, but how they then continue to so seamlessly succeed in outdoing themselves over and over again. Just when you thought they can't top themselves, they go out there and they do just that. And that's precisely what they did on this night with that closing number. A phenomenal performance, and the perfect end to an all around phenomenal show. And I'd actually say by the end of it that Legend 2015 is up there alongside Legend D and Legend 1997 among my absolute favorites of the band's shows that I've reviewed so far. But now, with the year off to a hot start after Legend 2015, I can't wait to see what the rest of the year has in store for this band. See you!