Monday, September 11, 2023

Babymetal - Live Review from Atlanta, GA 2023

It's been four years since Babymetal last toured the United States. And four years ago, I was lucky enough to catch them three times, including seeing them for my birthday in Orlando on September 4th, 2019. Now, four years later, they've finally made their way back out here again. And, again, they've made it out around my area just in time for my birthday (well, the day before my birthday to be exact, but close enough). This time out they emanated from the Coca-Cola Roxy in Atlanta, GA on September 3rd, 2023 as part of their Babyklok tour, and let's just say that it was well worth the wait. Back in 2019, some members of the fandom dubbed my birthday show as "Legend C", so I suppose this time out we can perhaps refer to it as "Legend 1986"?

I got seats this time around, which meant I didn't have to arrive super early like before, but I did wander around a bit before the show to see if I could find any of my friends from the last time they were here. I did find one of them, and we caught up for a bit before they started letting us into the venue.

Once inside, I was initially put off by my seat, in which my view was partially obstructed by an inexplicably placed huge stanchion.

Thankfully though, a couple who had gotten their seats split up was willing to trade with me, and I wound up getting a much better view.

Much better.

Still though, it's rather baffling that those seats are even available for purchase. The seat directly beside me literally has no view of the stage, and I noticed that a number of people who were seated there eventually moved elsewhere as the show progressed.

Onto the show, first up was Jason Richardson, a lone guitarists who performed on stage to a backing track. I mean, the music itself was fine, highlighted by a genre-hopping track not unlike something we might hear from Babymetal themselves, but the performance did feel kind of awkward just seeing the dude all by himself up there. Could he really not gather together a full band to perform on stage with him?

Next up was the co-headliners of the show, Dethklok, the cartoon band from the Adult Swim show Metalocalypse.

For the first half of their set, I was actually digging them. Again, the music's not bad, even if it isn't necessarily my taste, but the presentation was rather neat, as the cartoon characters were shown performing the songs in the background while the live band performed on stage. At first I thought this was actually a pretty good fit for a co-headliner with Babymetal, who are also quite a visual-heavy band. But then, about halfway into their set, the backing images started to become rather pornographic, which was honestly pretty off-putting.

The show was listed as appropriate for all ages, and Babymetal themselves are a very family friendly band, and I had seen a number of people bringing their kids to this show. So for Dethklok to move forward with this presentation was honestly kind of gross. Perhaps a censored version of the visuals would have been more appropriate, or just rotate in different songs that aren't as explicit. Otherwise, the band played for an hour, and it honestly did start to drag about halfway into the set. I didn't hate them or anything, but I also wasn't super thrilled with them, either.

But anyways, onto better things, my favorite band in the whole world was up next, and as always, they never fail to deliver big. I did take a few photos and video clips, but for the most part, I just wanted to take in the atmosphere and just really be there in the moment. They came out wearing their new outfits, which sort of resemble Power Rangers suits when viewed in person, and kicked things off with a song that, before this year, I was convinced I was never going to be able to see live, that being Babymetal Death.

From there, they moved onto Gimme Chocolate and Pa Pa Ya, and I couldn't wipe the grin off my face as I took in the party-like atmosphere. The Gods of the West performed an extended intro for Distortion, which went long enough to where I thought we might be in for some new solos or something leading into the song (we were not), and during this period, guitarist Chris Kelly was motioning for the crowd to form a circle pit, which sadly didn't gain much traction. Su was able to succeed in getting the pit going later in the song, but from my vantage point, I did notice how the pit seemed a lot less rowdy this time out compared to years past.

BxMxC was a blast to experience live. And on this evening, our rotating song from The Other One album that we were treated to was Mirror Mirror, which I was very happy by. This song is one of my favorites off the new album. It's one that's brought me to tears listening to on occasion, and seeing it live certainly struck an emotional chord with me as well.

Monochrome was next, and I've gotta say, this song hits way different live. Like, I could feel this song in my chest. Very powerful performance, and I loved the moment where Su asked all of us to take out our phones and shine our lights.

While the previous two songs might've brought a string of emotional powerhouses, the next song was likely the highlight of the evening, as they performed their brand new song Metali. And let me tell you, the live version of this song is simply bonkers. Starting off with some sweet new Kami solos, this song truly feels like theater to watch on stage. There's a moment about halfway in where Su asked everyone in the crowd to sit down, and everyone in the pit proceeded to do just that. We then witnessed Momoko's cool solo moment, ending with her growling, "Are you ready?", as the music kicks in and everyone in the crowd hopped back up to their feet. This was just awesome to be a part of live.

We then rounded out the evening with a number of classics, including an especially hard hitting performance of Megitsune...

... and moving on to their appropriately timed performance of Headbanger. They play this song on the band's big birthday celebration shows, and so far, they've played it every time they've come around for my birthday, too. I wonder if Koba's seen my posts on social media?

Headbanger - Legend 1986 Version

They closed out their show with Road of Resistance, though at the very beginning of the song, I noticed that something went awry with Moa's flag. She leaned down to check on one of the security guys in front of the crowd, then laughed it off with Momoko afterwards. Closer fan cams would later confirm that she had indeed accidentally hit the security in the head with her flag pole, and was apologizing for the incident afterward. The song itself was fantastic as always, and brought us home in a big way, after which they had told us, "See you!", to which I gleefully yelled it back in return.

So yeah, another successful Babymetal show, and I honestly think this one may have topped their prior performances I had seen from Orlando and Atlanta in 2019 (not The Forum, though. That one's still the best I've seen live). Even if their show may be relatively short (only an hour, though it went by so quick I'd swear it was half that length), they always deliver, and put on a hell of a spectacle that just demands to be seen in person. I would absolutely see them again whenever they may make their way back around, and if you get a chance to see them near your area, I can't recommend it enough.

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