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!

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