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!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Babymetal - World Tour 2014

So after Budokan, Babymetal set out on their first World Tour in 2014, and next I'll be covering a few of the shows from that tour. I would like to say however how it's a bit of a shame that Legends Y and M from this tour were apparently never released, especially seeing how they were so hyped up at the very end of Budokan. I would've loved to see a full pro-shoot of those shows, or at the very least of the two Headbanger performances where Yui and Moa got to take over for lead vocals respectively. But alas.

To start off, I want to first touch on the band's performance at Sonisphere. Their set from this festival was actually their first full set that I watched, and I've watched it at least another half dozen times since. Really, just thinking about their Sonisphere set gives me chills, and particularly thinking about Ijime, Dame, Zettai from that show has a tendency to get me choked up. Against all odds, and with so much working against them, for those girls to go out there and face a sea of die hard metalheads, most of whom had no idea who this band was, and to then proceed to win the whole crowd over is the sort of thing you only expect to see in the movies. And yet here it was, happening for real, and it was damn moving to witness.

This set was an accomplishment that put the band on the map. And I mentioned in my last review how the band hadn't quite implemented their call-and-response element just yet at the time, and yet here they were, in a foreign country to them, in front of a swarm of people who don't even speak their language, and when it came time for them to perform Gimme Chocolate, what'd they do? They got this English speaking crowd to actually sing along with them. In Japanese. And by the end of their set, they left this crowd chanting for more. If that's not just the biggest damn win, then I don't know what is.

Moving right along, the girls were on tour promoting their first album and putting on shows in a number of countries across Europe and America for the very first time. The ones I watched and will be discussing included their London shows from The Forum and O2 Academy Brixton, as well as their show back in Japan at Makuhari Messe. And while these shows were loads of fun, I honestly don't really have quite as in-depth of thoughts on most of these shows as I did on the previous ones I've already covered, so I'll mostly just touch on the things that stood out to me the most from them. For instance, to return to Gimme Chocolate again, I mentioned how I found it's placement odd at Budokan. But now, they've clearly already re-positioned it as one of their premiere songs, as it was often placed in more prominent places on some of these shows, and even closed out the Makuhari Messe show.

I also noticed something new they were doing with Akatsuki on this tour, where they were opening the song with this really soft orchestral piece with this really sweet violin playing the main tune before the song kicked in proper. I hadn't heard them do that before, and haven't noticed it in any of their later shows either, but they did this pretty consistently on these 2014 World Tour shows, and I'd be interested to see them perhaps expand on this some. We got a full piano version of this song at Legend 1997, why not a full violin version, too?

To discuss the show at Makuhari Messe again for a moment, I loved what they did with the camera work on Su's Rondo of Nightmare here, where they were looking on at her through the flames in the foreground, flickering as she stood behind them, almost as if she were on fire herself. Lord knows she certainly set the whole venue aflame with her flawless performance!

And then there was Catch Me If You Can, and man, I loved the effect they did here! The backdrop for this show was a massive LED screen, and for this song, whenever the girls did the skipping around part of their choreography, the screen would turn completely red and the lights would shut off to create a silhouette effect of the girls against the red backdrop. This was such an ingenious effect, and I think this is honestly my favorite performance of that song now because of it.

Shifting gears just a bit here now, but while still on the topic of Catch Me If You Can, let's now jump to their last show on this tour, emanating from London's O2 Academy Brixton. On this occasion, during the Kami Band's opening solos for this song, they made a curious camera choice to just keep it on the same shot without cutting away to different angles, as the camera just panned from one Kami to the next. But then once they got to the drummer for this show, Yuya Meata, he did his solo, but then at the very end, he just suddenly stopped playing, and he pointed out to the crowd.

And for a split second, the music stopped entirely, before kicking into the main song.

And that too was when the camera angle finally cut away, as the girls made their way onto the stage. And I dunno, it honestly probably doesn't sound too impressive in writing, but actually seeing it, man, that little pause that he did, and the whole buildup leading up to it, I hadn't seen them do that before, but that was just so sick! And the crowd in attendance who at it up are clearly in agreement with me!

After the band returned at the end of the show for an encore performance, just as the sounding of the gong following Headbanger at Budokan signaled the start of this tour, it also signaled its official end on this evening. But that wasn't to say that the show was over, because on this night, the next chapter in Babymetal's saga would already be beginning, as they introduced a brand new song on this unsuspecting crowd, that being the very first performance of their new power anthem, Road of Resistance, as Su-metal, Yuimetal, and Moametal carried their flags proudly onto the stage.

I found it interesting how for this early performance, it was actually all three girls who were commanding the crowd to split for the Wall of Death at the beginning. But then the music kicks in, and those three just went full throttle, riding into battle with so much energy in their movements. I love this song, and I love how into it this crowd was on this special occasion. And the best part came when Su succeeding in getting the crowd to sing along to this song that they were only now hearing for the very first time. Seriously, just thinking about it gives me goosebumps. What a treat for everyone there, and what a powerful way to both close out one chapter, and start out the next.

So yeah, those are most of my thoughts that stuck out to me while watching these shows. And afterwards, I watched a brief documentary piece that was following the girls around London in the lead-up to this final show on this tour, which was completely adorable. But there was a moment in particular that stood out to me on that documentary. When they were interviewing people in the crowd who were waiting in line to get in the show, one guy mentioned how he's been a metal fan for 20-some years. He mentions how he'd only recently discovered Babymetal, and how this was about to be his third show he was attending of theirs in that year alone.

And that really got me thinking. I know way back when, back closer to my high school days, I used to be into music back then in the way that I'm into movies nowadays. I used to go to local shows at the small venues that we used to have in town, and I always wanted to be in a band and play music myself. But then, I allowed for others' negative actions towards me at the time to sour my passion for music, which gradually drove me away from the scene, as well as those aspirations.

Eventually I moved on, and I wound up falling in love with film. But even after becoming a full blown film buff, I still clearly held an affliction towards music. You can tell by just how often musicals or movies where music plays a big part in them tend to rank highly on my end of year lists, or by the sheer number of posts I've written on the topic of music in film in general. And this too is reflective in my own films, where I oftentimes place a huge emphasis on their use of music, and how that music really compliments the images on screen and contributes to telling the story.

Yet even so, for all these years, I still never had the actual love for music as a medium in and of itself, outside of its use in other mediums, in the way that I had during my high school years. For over a decade, I haven't had the desire to go to any concerts, even if it was a band I was really into that was playing nearby. And I already mentioned in an earlier post about how there's honestly very few bands anymore who really connect with me anyways. But if you go back years and years, I used to be a lot more open and active in really broadening my musical intake, trying out all sorts of different bands and genres, whereas nowadays, it's safe to say that I've found my comfort zone, and I've pretty much remained there.

However, since discovering Babymetal and watching their live shows, I now suddenly really want to go to one of their concerts. Like, I need to experience that for myself. That guy in that documentary said that their show is the most fun he's ever had at a metal concert, and I've gotta say, just watching their shows is more fun than I've ever had actually attending any show that I've been to myself. I feel like if I were to go to most shows nowadays, I would almost feel uncomfortable and self-conscious being there, especially if I found myself in the middle of the pit or anything like that. But when it comes to Babymetal, heck, just the thought of being there makes me feel alive, and it almost feels like one of those things that you've just got to experience at least once before you die, is being in the middle of the mosh'sh pit!

And I briefly mentioned in an earlier post about how I've already slipped into listening to their Sakura Gakuin stuff, which is radically different from what I'd normally be into. And for real, it's crazy how almost therapeutic Sakura Gakuin's music is. They've become my go-to band recently to just chill out and calm down and be happy. But every day I keep discovering a little bit more, and I can honestly see myself digging even further and further down this fox hole that I've found myself in, and expanding even further outside my usual musical comfort zone given more time.

This band has reinstilled something in me that hasn't been there since my high school days. A real desire and appreciation for music as a medium that had been tempered, because I allowed for my passions to be dictated by the actions of others. And I honestly felt that same feeling creeping up on me again in regards to film, how I felt I was perhaps starting to allow for the negativity of others to once again ruin my love for another passion of mine.

But there's such a passion present here with this band that really reinvigorates my own passions. And songs such as Road of Resistance only drive that point home, to overcome these obstacles that are weighing down on you, and not let them defeat you. Because people will drag you down if you let them. But now, I see these girls on stage, and I see their love, and their drive, and their connection with one another, and their connection with the fans. I see the way they really work together out there and prop each other up. And I sit here watching these shows thinking, I want to experience that in my own life.

And so now I'm making the necessary moves to do precisely that, to really work on bettering myself and my situation in life so that I might find that thing for myself, escaping the rut that I've found myself in and carving out my own path. And maybe I'll carry my own flag into battle, much like these girls who stared the odds in the face and won the day, as I enter the next chapter in my own life.

As they traveled from country to country, the girls brought flags with the band's logo on it, painted in the colors of that country's national flag. And as the tour was brought to its conclusion, their closing video spoke about bringing everyone together as The One, as they then came out waving their own flags. Our flags. They close out their shows by screaming “We are!” as the crowd then shouts back, “Babymetal!” They're not talking about the band, but everyone in attendance, and everyone watching at home. We are all Babymetal. And we are all The One.

They brought a crowd who had never even heard of them together. And even to this day their mission continues, as every day it seems they're bringing more and more people together as well, as I keep hearing about others like me who've only recently discovered them, and who similarly can't get enough of them. To where now I've found myself in the midst of quite frankly one of the healthiest, most accepting, and most positively reassuring fan bases that I've ever come across. So maybe in that sense, I've already begun to find that thing that I'm looking for, that thing that I see when I watch these three girls on stage. But that's what this tour was about, was bringing the world together, and facing the Metal Resistance head on. And how can you not be inspired by that?

And so onward we move, as we enter the next stage in the Babymetal saga, with a brand new Legend in 2015. See you!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Babymetal - Live at Budokan

Live at Budokan was the first Babymetal DVD that I purchased, and after my initial viewing, I originally wrote a review for it on some of the forums I visit. And at first I was planning to just post that same review on here with some minor revisions, but then after going back and watching the first handful of big shows, I thought it might be interesting to rewatch these Budokan shows with the context of those prior shows newly in mind, and see how that might effect my feelings any. And by the end of it, I was glad I decided to do that, because my opinions on these shows definitely improved on a revisit.

Broken up into two nights, we started with Red Night, and kicked things off with a rare appearance by the band's producer, Kobametal. He announces how this show will feature all of the songs from the first album, and that unlike their past shows, there will be no storyline videos and no encore to break things up. And also, this show was their first big show to feature the Kami Band performing the whole way through, which also meant this was the first time hearing a number of their songs being performed with a live band backing them, as well as the first show to feature the Kami Band's solo performances to open a number of key songs, such as Catch Me If You Can. So this was really cool to see the Kamis finally being fully integrated as one with the band.

I also really dug the unique stage setup, as they performed on a circular stage in the center of the venue, which would spin on occasion, and had a platform in the center which would elevate at times, making for a number of really neat ways to modify a lot of their choreography throughout the shows, which I'll touch upon more as I discuss the different songs this setup was used on. And I got a real kick out of how many times the Kami Band switched up guitars throughout the night. Their bassist, Boh, and one of their guitarists, Takayoshi Ohmura, swapped out twice, and their other guitarist, Leda Cygnus, swapped instruments at least three times that I counted. I don't know if that's a common thing for bands to do at live shows, to swap out instruments between songs, but I just found that real interesting as I was noticing it here.

But now, as to the show itself, Red Night opened with Megitsune, which is a really awesome choice to open up strong on. And already the girls have made some adjustments with this song as compared to their performances in the previous shows, where later on in the song Moa and Yui trade off singing some of the lyrics, which makes for a really cool effect. This song's not even old by this point in their timeline, yet they're already looking for ways to keep things fresh!

I did find Gimme Chocolate's placement on both shows to be a bit odd and a bit random, like it was being treated as just any other song, and not the big hit that it was. Though then again, I suppose this show likely takes place before it really launched as the international hit that it would become, but I'm just so used to them usually placing the song somewhere that feels a little more important, so that stood out to me as a bit curious.

Then we got to Iine and Catch Me If You Can, and man, do you ever have that feeling where something just leaves you feeling so full of bliss that it damn near brings you to tears? Because watching these two songs on this show just happened to do that for me. I don't even know if it was anything in particular about these specific performances, but by the time we got to these songs, I was just in a state of pure joy.

Uki Uki Midnight was up next, and I'll tell you what, this performance made me so damn nervous. The three girls were all on that small platform as it was raised in the air, and the whole time they were up there I was just a wreck, and so grateful nobody slipped up or anything. It made for a cool effect seeing them up there, but man, whew, I was sweating, haha!

Seeing as these shows were going to be incorporating all of the songs from their first album, that meant that there were a number of songs being added to the set on these shows, and they made their debuts in grand fashion on this night. Starting with Rondo of Nightmare, which saw the Kami Band performing their own solo song Mischiefs of Metal Gods as a lead-in (which, Jesus Christ, Boh's bass solos are just about the sickest damn thing I've ever heard!), until Su is raised above them all like an empress on that center platform, and the Kamis stand beneath her, spinning around the stage as she's given the spotlight to do what she does best and just tear the whole house down.

After Su's solo, it was time for Black Babymetal to do their thing, and they debuted their new song titled Song 4. The only song actually written by the girls themselves so far, this track may not be my favorite while listening to the album, but god damn is it one of my favorites to see them perform live. Those girls work their asses off performing this song, playing to the crowd and putting on an absolute clinic of a performance. Those two are just having so much damn fun on the stage, and they'll be damned if any single person watching them isn't going to have just as much fun as they're having. I really can't emphasize enough just how much of a blast this song is to see live.

As we near the end of the show, I initially thought that the placement of Babymetal Death was a bit of an awkward choice on this occasion, playing third to last on the set list. I mentioned in my previous review how I love the different ways they find to use this song elsewhere as opposed to just being an opener, despite the fact that it's quite literally an introductory track! And for the most part, they've managed to make it work, such as when they used it to re-introduce the girls after their "rebirth" on Legend Z, or how they closed off the show with it on Legend 1997 (and to get ahead of myself here, how they used it as a super dark lead-in on Legend S to that show's closing number, The One).

So the first time I watched this show, this song felt misplaced to me here. However, on rewatch, I noticed that the song comes into play only after we've just completed seeing the girls go on their series of solos, and this was their moment of reuniting before jumping into their big finales. So in that sense, I suppose it worked well enough, though it's still not quite as effective as their other non-opening uses of the song that I've seen thus far. That said, this time around, I did notice some things that I didn't quite catch the first time. While Su and Yui remain stone-faced as they're spelling the band's name out, Moa's over there smiling and mouthing along with the death voice, which I got a huge kick out of.

But now as we get closer to the end, here is where things start to fall apart a bit. Red Night is pretty notable for a number of reasons, those being the two big accidents that happened on their last two songs. Halfway through Headbanger, Yui fell off the stage. You don't actually see it happen, but you can hear her scream when she falls off, which is just haunting when it happens. The other two had to finish the rest of the song without her, but you could see as they kept glancing over to where she was, and you could tell the look of concern on their faces.

Between songs, the crowd was chanting for Yui, and as the lights came back up, they were delighted to see that she was okay, and had rejoined the band for their final song, Ijime, Dame, Zettai. But then on this song, Moa sprained her ankle almost immediately, and you can see it on her face throughout the entire rest of the show that she's seriously in total agony. And yet even so, she still powered through, running around and jumping and dancing like nothing had happened, even if you could see her sweating and tearing up in her eyes from the pain she was clearly enduring.

And keep in mind, at the time of this show, these girls were both only 14 years old, and yet they still soldiered on and gave it their all despite these mishaps. The sheer work ethic and professionalism displayed by this group is simply astounding, and truly inspiring. Like, I know so many full grown adults who don't even have a quarter of the amount of drive and work ethic as these girls do. And hell, I've seen so many countless other bands live that would've cut their set short for far, far less. But not this group. The show must go on, no matter what, and I gained so much more respect for these girls after their performance on this night.

But all told, Red Night certainly improved for me on this revisit. The last two songs are still pretty uncomfortable to watch, as it's pretty hard to really get into the music when you're sitting there just concerned for the band's well being. But I can't help but feel if those last two songs may have stained the rest of the show for me on initial viewing, because this time out, I was thoroughly enjoying myself throughout. It ends on an uncharacteristically off note for the band, but accidents happen, and that shouldn't reflect badly on an otherwise stellar show.

Up next was Black Night, and for this show, the storyline videos and the encore were back. They also changed up the set list quite a bit from the previous night, though the performances of each song don't have too many differences from the night prior, so a lot of what I've already covered applies to this show as well, and there's not much reason to discuss each individual song all over again here. They indeed opened up with Babymetal Death this time out, and while most of the set consisted of their songs from their first album again, they actually busted out a couple of surprises on this occasion.

Kimi to Anime Ga Mitai may not have made the cut for the album, despite being a staple of their set up to this point, but it made a return on this evening, in what's gotta be the best version of the song I've heard yet (which makes sense, as this is also the only version I've heard so far with a live band accompanying it). And I really dug the changeup to their choreography here, how they seamlessly flipped it to face the various sides of the crowd surrounding them throughout.

No Rain, No Rainbow was also performed on this night, and this was a performance where I was really able to tell just how much Su's voice really has matured in the time since. I know you can tell on other songs too, but it especially stood out to me on this occasion, likely because I've watched her Legend S performance of the song so many times that that's become the definitive version of the song for me. So to go back and see her perform it here, you can really hear just how much higher pitched her voice used to be compared to now, even just a few years earlier.

Then after No Rain, No Rainbow, Su jumped straight into Akatsuki with an awesome transition, as the lights changed from a blue scheme to red accordingly. This was pretty cool to see here, as I can't recall too often when Su did two solo songs in a row. Her solos usually get split up it seems.

As we neared the end of the show, they first closed out with Ijime, Dame, Zettai, performed to perfection this time out, and ran all around the stage seeing the fans off. But of course we weren't done yet, as we came back for our encore, and as soon as Doki Doki Morning started up, I just had the biggest god damn smile on my face. And then the show closed properly with an epic rendition of Headbanger, again performed without any such misfortunes as the night prior, and Su rang the gong at the end that sounded the culmination of the band's time as a local act in Japan, and signaled their motion to branch out onto international lands.

So yeah, all in all, Black Night was another awesome show, and I'd still say it was the better of the two nights, even if Red Night did improve for me on a rewatch. And I think it definitely benefited from revisiting these shows in general before sharing my thoughts, as when I first watched this, most of their shows and performances I had seen were actually from the band's later years, so I was comparing it a lot to those, such as how during these older days, there weren't as many call-and-response moments with the audience, and how nowadays I haven't noticed them doing encores anymore. But back then, encores were the norm, and outside of Iine, the call-and-response aspect hadn't quite been implemented just yet to the degree that they do it now. But that just leaves me hungering for more, and to continue to see the evolution of this band play out. So join me next time, as we'll be taking a trip along with the girls on some of their shows from their World Tour 2014. See you!

Friday, November 2, 2018

Babymetal - Legends 1999 and 1997

So in my previous post covering Legends I, D, and Z, I opened by talking mostly about what Babymetal means to me more in terms of a media outlook. This time, I'd like to take a glimpse at it a little more from a personal perspective. And considering how the two shows I'm about to cover here are essentially celebrations of the lives of these band members, I feel a more personal approach is definitely fitting.

Prior to discovering Babymetal, I was actually wondering recently when I would come across the next band that would really latch onto me, as it's honestly pretty rare that a band really connects with me in a way that I actually get excited about it and want to really dig deep into their musical library. In the past, other such examples of bands that really clicked for me in that regard included My Chemical Romance, Paramore, Muse, and Avenged Sevenfold. And most recently, I had been in the midst of a two year long Sia kick.

But then someone on a wrestling forum I still visit asked if anyone there had ever heard of a band called Babymetal. He posted the video for Gimme Chocolate, and I honestly didn't know entirely what to think of it at first. The opening lines from Moa and Yui are like a culture shock whiplash. But then as soon as Su starts singing, it suddenly made me feel like I was listening to some sort of anime opening. I was intrigued, but not yet entirely sold.

So I decided to do some investigating, and their next song I came across was Karate. Again, this was a good solid song, however, structurally, it's very similar to Gimme Chocolate, so I had concerns if the band had anything to offer in terms of variety, an incredibly silly notion to have in hindsight. Imagine how foolish I felt by the time I got to Iine, for instance (which, to go on a bit of a tangent, it will be such a missed opportunity if, during this time when the band has five backup dancers, they never get around to performing Iine and doing a seven person snake dance!).

So I gave them another go, and the third song I stumbled upon happened to be Megitsune. And yeah, by the time I made it here, I was officially hooked. This song single handedly confirmed for me that A. this band is the real deal, and B. this band isn't just a one note gimmick. And these two key songs also see themselves added to the band's set list on these next shows that I'll be discussing, so I'll go a little more in-depth on them momentarily.

I mentioned before about how I discovered this band during a down time for me, and I really can't emphasize how much this band has uplifted my spirits. For the first time in a long time, I just truly felt lost in life. But then, watching these three girls giving it their all and achieving so much just really clicked something within me. A creative spark that had kinda died down due to a number of demoralizing factors in my personal life. For the first time in months, I pulled out my laptop and actually wrote productively. I wrote a full rough outline for a Ninja Kat spin-off, and I've jumped back to work on the fifth Ninja Kat novel, which had been going neglected for quite a while. And I've been consistent with my writing since.

And without going into too many details, I've also since made plans for a big move which could help propel some of my other creative career aspirations. And I honestly do attribute a lot of this sudden drive in me to just the way this band makes me feel better as a person. I was in a really dark place, just wandering in circles, wasting away. But then I stumbled upon this music, and it really pulled me up out of the darkness and motivated me in a monumental way, to do things and make moves that I had been putting off for far too long now. So you can imagine just how much this band has come to mean to me already, even after only such a short span of time. And so on that note, I think it's time to take the dive once more, as I'll be discussing my thoughts on Legend 1999, the celebration of Yui's and Moa's first 14 years of life, and Legend 1997, which celebrated Su's 16th.

First, Legend 1999. I really dug the solos for both Yui and Moa, how they chose songs from the year they were born to cover, and then were allowed to go out there with the spotlight all to their own and just kill it on stage. Moa's version of Love Machine was a lot of fun, but I especially liked Yui's rendition of Chokotto Love (and I wonder, is this Yui's sole solo in all of Babymetal?). She mentioned after her recent departure from the band that she would like to pursue a solo career, and she definitely carried herself well and looked like a star out there on her own on this occassion, so I have no doubt that she'd be able to pull it off.

After our Black Babymetal moments, the two girls then get captured, and it's up to Su-metal to recruit the aid of the Kami Band in order to save Yui and Moa using the power of No Rain, No Rainbow (the first half of this show was pretty heavy on the storyline stuff). It was nice to see the Kami Band get more time to do their thing, as they were present for about half of the show this time around, and had also stepped more out of the shadows as well.

But as to No Rain, No Rainbow, hell, from the very first note I was already on the brink of tears. This song is by far my favorite of Su's solos, and it gets me just about every damn time I hear it. It's sort of amazing to see how early on this song came about, considering it didn't appear on an album until Metal Resistance. But as Su mentioned in an interview, they were waiting for her voice to mature more before recording it for an album, and I definitely think the wait was worth it. And as to this rendition, her voice indeed had the power to save Black Babymetal, and it was simply adorable to see Yui and Moa joining Su for this performance, as they did this really cute little angel dance on their way to the piano waiting for them on stage.

As mentioned above, Megitsune also got added to the set list on this show, and this performance was simply breathtaking. I just dig the hell out of this song so much, Su's long drawn out vocals in contrast to the fast and heavy instrumentals sends chills through my body. And the choreography for this song, I'll tell you what, my jaw simply dropped the first time I saw them get to the part where they're seemingly gliding across the stage, and I'm left shaking my head in awe every single time I see that part still.

After another teased closer, we return for an encore starting with a fiery performance of Akatsuki, which also saw the first time where the spotlight was finally shined on the Kami Band for their dueling guitar solos. And then the show closed out for real with yet another awesome rendition of Headbanger (which, watch out, now the girls have smoke guns, and they aren't afraid to use 'em!), and after the girls fainted at the end of the song, a group of cloaked candle-wielding figures guided our girls into the light that would lead them to Legend 1997.

I really love how there's continuity like this from show to show at times, where one show will pick up directly where the last one left off. We saw this before with Legends D and Z, and now here again, Legend 1997 opens with the cloaked figures finishing their guidance, as Babymetal has entered the stage for their biggest show of the lot I've reviewed so far. Right off the bat, this show takes place in a much larger venue than the other shows that I've covered, and the overall presentation is made that much bigger to match. And from start to finish, this show just feels like watching an absolute epic.

Celebrating Su's birthday for this occasion, the show starts off strong by feeling like we're attending an actual party, as we jump straight from the dance remix of Headbanger to Doki Doki Morning and then Iine in back to back to back action. Seriously, by the time we got to the end of this stretch, I noticed that my face was actually hurting from how hard I was smiling.

But then we get to Su's special solo cover, much like Yui and Moa got theirs on the previous show, as she delivers a stunning performance of Tamashii no Rufuran. And as if it wasn't apparent before, Jesus, Su straight up looks like a damn superstar singing this song, and the crowd went absolutely ballistic whenever she would sing the chorus.

This show also saw the song Gimme Chocolate being added to the set list, a milestone so monumental that the song actually received a storyline video just to hype its debut. I love how the official music video for this song is literally just this initial performance from this show with the studio version laid over it, as really, everything you need from this song is all here, from the wacky vocals and equally silly yet appropriate dance routine which perfectly tells this song's story and everything it's about way better than any traditional music video could. I mentioned above how this song is like a culture shock, and I love how even the band themselves agree in that regard, as they've mentioned their shock that the version of the song they were performing was indeed in its finished form.

Later on, after the band has fainted yet again by the force of an especially kick ass performance of Headbanger, we're treated to a simply heart-wrenching rendition of Akatsuki, as Su is still laid out on the stage, but pulls herself up, cast under a sad blue light, and she's only got the piano accompanying her through the duration of this rendition. I've gotta say, this performance seriously blew me away, and this is definitely my favorite version of this song that I've heard yet. Just simply outstanding, and have I mentioned how much of an undeniable superstar Su-metal is yet?

The show then closes with the song they usually open with, Babymetal Death. This is a song that's taken a little while to grow on me, but I've come to completely love it, and I especially love the different ways the band finds to use this song elsewhere on their set outside of just being an opener. And really, I doubt they're ever gonna top the way it's used here.

The stage is set to appear like a scene straight out of Hell, in what is admittedly one of the band's most bizarre moments that I've seen, as well as one of their most utterly bad ass. The Babybones carry out a large cross, as the cloaked figures from before return to the stage all with smaller crosses in hand, as the Bones, along with Yui and Moa, proceed to crucify Su on the larger cross once more. The Babybones then carry her on the cross to the top of the stage, as Su lets out her bloodcurdling scream, and Yui and Moa run all around the stage, before completing their sacrificial ritual of Su-metal, and the crowd goes wild. Just writing all of that down makes this all sound so bad, but believe me, it totally works, and totally emphasizes that theatrical feeling about this band that I had mentioned before, which is just caked in so much heavy metal imagery, but with an infectiously cute twist!

So yeah, Legend 1997 was a hell of a show, a true epic through and through, and definitely the better of this pair of shows. Tons of iconic performances here, and it's amazing to see these girls really coming into their own and growing into these roles. But that's about all I've got for now, and so if you'll join me next time, I'll be covering their next big pair of shows to follow, as I revisit Red Night and Black Night from Budokan. See you!