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!


  1. Speaking of "Tamashii no Rufuran" (Refrain of Souls): I'm a big fan of the anime series (and movies) "Neon Genesis Evangelion" and I freaking love this song! But Suzuka's real counterpart to "Chokotto Love" and "Love Machine" was "White Love" which was performed during Legend "D". All three song have "love" in their title by the way.

    Looking forward to your Budokan post!

    1. I suppose that makes sense. Thanks for pointing that out! :)