Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Babymetal at The Forum - Live Review

Prior to this past weekend, the furthest I ever traveled specifically to see a show was in 2007 when I traveled from Florida to Detroit to attend Wrestlemania 23. Needless to say, traveling from Florida to LA to see Babymetal live at The Forum far surpasses that. But it wasn't just me, but fans from all over the country, and even the world, traveled far and wide to attend this monumental event. Hell, sitting next to me to my right during the show was someone who traveled all the way from Guatemala, and to my left was someone from China. And it was a fitting occasion to see so many people from so many places all gathered together, as this show was a celebration of the band's new album, Metal Galaxy, which is in many ways itself a celebration of the many different cultures that span the globe.

And man was this trip worth it.

Seeing as this was their first big arena show to be put on in the States, there was no way I was gonna miss out on the opportunity to see them again. And since this was one of their bigger stage productions, I knew that I wanted a spot somewhere in the stands, where I could just really take in the whole grand production. Because after all, this band is theater, and I was there to take in the full theatrical experience. And boy did it deliver in that regard.

In a recent interview with Consequence of Sound, Moametal described their latest album by saying that they were on a spaceship, traveling to different metal stars, and asking their fans to please join them.

And in another recent interview in Rolling Stone Japan, Su-metal actually mentioned how she sees Babymetal less like a traditional band, but more like a musical. And this was something that really struck me to see her say, as that's precisely how I would describe my personal experience of following along with this band as well, as less like keeping up with a band, but more like following an ongoing musical as its story continues to play out.

In fact, that's one of the things I really dig about the new album, Metal Galaxy, is that it's one of those types of albums that appears to have a storyline playing through it, and almost feels more like the soundtrack to an existing musical than it does a straight up collection of new music. And that's how this show felt seeing it live, was like watching a full blown musical production on stage, just as Su had mentioned, and that stage being the spaceship that Moa had referenced, in which we, the fans, all joined along in this space opera on their latest adventure in the ongoing Metal Resistance.

Their stage setup included a moving platform, their spaceship, which would move the girls from one side of the arena to the other, and even elevate up in the air at times. And from my view, off to the side, I was able to experience the show from a very unique perspective, as I could see the girls on stage performing either from the front, from the side, or from behind, depending on where stage was positioned at any given point. But in addition to this, their lighting setup on this show was out of this world, and they also incorporated a lot more with their backing visuals, which they had already been experimenting with more and more over the course of the tour, but which really came into play in a huge way on this show.

My view at The Forum.

I mentioned how the new album definitely feels as if it has a story playing through the course of it, but in many ways, it also feels like an album in which the band's lore has been really ingrained into it, much more so than in their previous albums. This is never more evident than in tracks such as In The Name Of, which just totally feels like one of the band's lore videos transformed into a song all its own. And that's how this show's use of backing visuals similarly feels, almost as if they are in replacement of the many lore videos that we'd normally see at bigger shows such as this, so that rather than showing us lore packages between songs (though those did still appear a handful of times), it's as if the songs themselves have become those very lore packages, really bringing them to life and bringing the band's ongoing storyline to the forefront. Sort of how I mentioned in my live review of the Orlando and Atlanta shows how the use of the Distortion music video almost made it feel like the girls were actually a part of it, they similarly use backing visuals on a number of other tracks, including Starlight and the debuting Da Da Dance, to help tell each song's story and transport us across the Metal Galaxy from song to song.

But to start from the beginning, the show opened with a message, one asking the audience, "Don't think. Feel." And I'll tell you, this show was absolutely overflowing with feeling. Like, from the very beginning, when Future Metal kicked in, it was like watching the opening to a live action anime, as we saw their spaceship flying in, and we saw Su and Moa being brought to life. And before this show, I gotta say, I never really thought much of this track. I mean, it works as a nice break as an interlude during their live shows, and it's a nice mood setter as an opening track on their album. But the way this song was utilized here to introduce us to these girls and really set the stage for what we were in for on this evening was immediately effective, and it was the first of several times over the course of the show where I felt tears welling up in my eyes.

Seriously, Future Metal is probably the furthest from a song that I ever expected to actually ever draw tears from me, but it was also far from the last. And what's sort of funny is that it typically wasn't even the band's more emotional songs that stirred me to crying. Like, Shanti Shanti Shanti and Pa Pa Ya are both pretty much party songs, yet I'll be damned if I wasn't standing there with tears rolling down my cheeks during the both of them. And for every song that didn't make me cry, I was still left smiling so damn hard that my face was literally in pain, yet all that did was make me smile even harder.

But as soon as Future Metal ended, we started things off in high gear as Su and Moa took to the stage alongside Momoko with the introduction of a brand new track being performed for the very first time, that being Da Da Dance. And lemme tell you, as soon as the opening notes for this song hit, I was screaming. This is such a high octane song, and a hell of a way to kick off the show. And it also featured one of my favorite moments, as during Moa's rap in the song, Su stepped aside for her to take center stage, in an instance that really emphasized the band's statement that Babymetal is now Su-metal and Moametal.

Up next was Megitsune, and it was at this point where I realized the thing that stuck out the most to me from my vantage point watching the girls dance was she sheer crazy amount of footwork that goes into their routines. But while my eyes followed the girls on stage for most of the evening, I did make sure to glance up at the big screen during the moment where Moa usually makes some sort of funny face at Su, and she didn't disappoint on this evening.

Elevator Girl and Shanti Shanti Shanti came next, and were loads of fun, and these were then followed by Kagerou finally making its big show debut. And it did so in a big way, as the stage that the Kami Band were performing on was set aflame, and we could feel the heat from the fire all the way up in the stands. The American Kamis indeed got to perform on this show, and though I would've loved to have seen a more traditional Kami lineup, I was honestly very pleased to see these guys get this gig, as they totally earned this show over the course of this tour, and they got to perform their solos leading into the song once more. And with rumors that Kagerou may be the band's next single off the new album, I can't help but wonder if we didn't just witness that song's music video being performed on this evening.

Starlight started up next, as many in the audience, including myself, held up our phone lights, making for an appropriately awesome sight. But now, I've mentioned several times before how this is a song that's never really worked for me live, but something about this performance on this night really hit me hard. I dunno if it was the accompanying visuals, which made it seems like the girls were traveling all through the galaxy, or if it was Su really pushing the power in her voice to another level, but I tell you, I could feel this performance in my gut. This hit me damn hard, and for the first time, I could really feel the emotion that I've always felt should've been there for me whenever I hear this song.

Then it was time for Gimme Chocolate, and there was a point during this song where I glanced up at the big screen just in time to see a closeup on Riho's face. And I could tell a number of people around me were similarly noticing her for the first time (I'm aware now that she actually tagged in during Kagerou, but I wasn't exactly looking out for her, so didn't immediately identify her). But man, once that realization set in, that both Momoko and Riho got to perform at The Forum, that seriously hit me big, and I couldn't hold in my tears for long. Hell, even thinking back on the show now, just the fact that those two both got to work this show might honestly be the thing that hits me most, and just how happy it makes me to see their hard work during this tour really pay off, and that neither of them had to sit out on the big day, which I was honestly worried might wind up being the case, seeing as how up to this point, only one of them have been performing in a given show at a time.

Pa Pa Ya was next, and despite bringing my towel along with me, I actually decided to hold off on participating this time out. I mentioned before how this song felt like a blur from getting so into it twirling my towel around and such, so this time, I really wanted to actually watch the song. And in many ways, it did feel like I was in fact truly seeing it for the first time, despite this being my third show to see them play it at. And as I mentioned before, yes, this song was indeed among those to draw me to tears. It's just such a fun and bombastic song, and yet Su's vocals remain as powerful as ever, and something about all of that just really gets to me.

After Distortion, we hit probably the only traditionally emotional song on the set to draw tears from me, that being Karate (it was a very emotional night for me, guys!), and then it was of course great to once again see Headbanger, as that song is always a killer. In fact, for the most part, the set list consisted of the songs that had been performed over the course of the rest of the tour leading up to this show, and in many ways, this show felt like the ultimate culmination that it had all been leading up to, as if each stop were a mini-adventure along the way to the big final battle. Though where their headline shows left out a lot of the call and response moments from a number of songs, they brought them back here, which obviously helped give this show in general a much bigger feel, and that was never more evident than when we came to our first finale of the evening, Road of Resistance.

When I first arrived at The Forum earlier in the day, I actually got there in time to be able to hear them doing their sound check inside. And the song they were checking at the time was Road of Resistance. And yeah, they sound checked the whole thing, including the super long, extended sing along portion, so I knew going into it that this one was gonna go long on this night. And I'll be damned if I didn't sing along like an idiot. Nobody else in my immediate area was singing along, so my voice must've certainly sounded ridiculous to everyone else around me without anyone else to help drown it out and blend it in with the crowd. But there was a moment happening, and I wasn't about to miss out on it just because no one else around me wanted to sing, especially once the music cut out and they left it to the fans to sing the song back up to the girls.

They then saw everyone off with their "we are" moment, but seeing as they hadn't yet performed The One, I suddenly got real excited, as it dawned on me that, oh crap, they're actually going to do an encore, aren't they? See, this band used to do encores all the time, but it's been a number of years now since they last did one. But sure enough, they acted as if the show was over, then left the crowd waiting, cheering, and begging for more. Sadly, some in the audience actually thought the show was over, and I noticed some people walking up the aisle to leave. And when I turned around, I saw that the row behind me had almost completely left as well, which I just couldn't believe. Because that really sucks, 'cause the show was far from over, and once we came back, we were treated to just about the biggest damn one-two punch combo you can imagine.

Shine made its first appearance with its new three person choreography, and lord did this song leave me simply breathless. Like, I'm seriously at a loss for words as to what else I can say about it other than that. And then they followed that up with the song I had been most anticipating this entire tour, that being Arkadia, i.e., the single most overwhelmingly emotional song I have ever heard in my damn life. And yeah, I similarly could barely breathe during this performance as well. Just, holy crap, you wanna talk "Don't think. Feel"? Yeah, this is what they mean by that. Because there's no room to even think, you're so swept over by emotion, it's seriously like they're reaching straight into your heart and touching your soul. And it was so worth the wait to finally see this song performed live.

They then left us off for real this time with Su telling the crowd that we were the best, and I'd be lying if I didn't say that this was indeed the best damn show I've ever attended in my life, and one of the best shows I've seen the band put on yet at that. It was well worth the travel, and well worth every damn cent. They took us on a roller coaster of an emotional ride, and delivered an absolute spectacle unlike anything I've ever seen in person. And just to show that I'm not being biased in my assessment, after the show, I even ran into someone who had attended both of the band's big shows from earlier in the year at Yokohama Arena and Legend M, and even he said that this show managed to surpass both of those for him.

So yeah, that was The Forum, and it was a hell of an experience, and a hell of a fun trip. I still arrived early in the day so I could mingle with fellow fans before the show, and I ran into quite a number of people who I had met at Atlanta, some friends who I had met during my time in New York, and others as well who I had been conversing with online for some time now, but was now meeting in person for the first time. And still yet, I met quite a number of new faces as well, and I even found it interesting how some people there even recognized me from these blogs and my other online activities. But it was great seeing everyone again, and really coming together as The One and getting to experience such a fantastic, phenomenal show, as Babymetal truly took us on a journey through the Metal Galaxy.

And I already can't wait to do it again.

So until the next one, see you!


  1. Excellent review, Chris. You have expressed what a truly great concert this was in every aspect. This was our second concert, the first being the one in Dallas only a couple of weeks earlier. And we want to see them again, and again. Oh, well, just have to watch the concerts over instead since it will probably be a couple of years before they come back here to us. Also, it was good to get to meet you before the show. -- Liz

    1. Thanks, Lizzie! I can't wait to see them again, too. Hopefully it won't be too long before they come back, but I suppose we'll see. Great to finally meet you, though! :)