Every now and then life has a habit of surprising you.
As a squire of 32 years who, if asked, would say that he has been around the block on more than one or two occasions and perhaps seen one or two sights, I can honestly say with as little hubris as possible, that I am rarely shocked or stunned by anything anymore. From the many nefarious ways people see fit to behave towards one other, the contempt for ones fellow man that can be seen and felt on any street corner or subway train of any modern metropolis you may care to mention. Of the lengths people go to, to make their fellow man’s life difficult for seemingly imperceptible reasons, to the unfathomable depth of confusion there seems to be about identity and individuality in today’s technological utopia for the modern human, we appear for the most part to live in a time of societal and spiritual crisis.
BUT, (and I think you, dear reader for bearing with me on this most self indulgent of preambles), once in a while something occurs that makes that all seem like the most nebulous of fallacies. Once, every so often, people will come together and through sheer effort of will, through an unrivalled sense of passion for their cause and with a previously unseen sense of brotherhood obtained through faith in a shared ideal, create something really special.
On Saturday night, somewhere in deepest darkest South London, this happened.
Babymetal create a special type of fan. One, unconcerned with aloof coolness and ‘keeping it real/metal/underground’ or any other type of scene talk that has some kind of quasi-political motivation intended to support a particular fledgling genre. Our young charges and their engrossingly (and amazingly technically proficient accompanying band), seem to inspire in their followers not only a ferocious sense of loyalty that even the most established bands of 30/40+ years of incessant albums and touring have worked hard to now enjoy, but also a never seen before quality of togetherness, positivity and a quasi-spirituality that is both extremely difficult to quantify and an absolute joy to experience.
Saturday. myself and members of our fantastic Babymetal community (4 Babymetal, link to be found at the bottom of this page), came together from all corners of the globe and converged on Brixton, each of us bound with an indefinable energy coursing through us. Some, veterans of the Forum and New York, some wide-eyed first timers excited to see the band for the first time, but ALL united with the same vivacity and excitable tension that comes with the anticipation of being in the presence of those who have become as entrenched a part of fans lives as your closest family and friends.
It is these links that we all have forged that served to make it such a special night, and send it down in history as the beginning of a kinship through shared belief in something that will last well beyond the shelf life predicted by the naysayers who have worked tirelessly to cast the band off as a fad and an overnight internet trend that will vanish as quickly as it had appeared.
Britain, Japan, Belgium, Holland, Portugal, France, the U.S, Germany, Italy, Norway, individuals and groups from more or less any region you can care to mention were in situ and in rancorous voice, roaring along with the songs word for word, bouncing up and down to the choruses with the clear delight this unique brand of rock & roll has brought to the table etched onto their sweaty yet ecstatic faces.
This seemed to me like some kind of zenith for the band, an apex and a closing of their ‘first phase’. The atmosphere before the show crackled and zapped with anticipation, and when finally the lights dimmed and now-familiar introduction began, the uproar that developed was nothing short of outrageous, with people flying around the venue as if sat astride a winged zephyr fashioned of pure belief, moshing furiously from the first song onwards and crowd surfers aplenty. I made a point of studying Suzuka carefully as she sang with a confidence and clearly discernible smile on her face that perhaps was not in quite such clear evidence from the show at the Forum. Added to this was the sense that the band is clearly much more confident that the people who are in the crowd are dedicated followers and believers in what they and the BM team are doing, and not just in town to see another internet freak show that is soon to die off and be consigned to the curioses section of ‘remember these guys’ websites. All through the show there was an almost regal sense of grandiosity to the way the band conducted themselves, they knew the crowd loved them and they took that in, chewed it up and spat it back at the crowd in a dragons breath-esque flurry of energy that the crowd drank back in, and this unique symbiosis continued throughout.
The band made the bold move of finishing on a new song, clearly written about the fans and FOR the fans, the announcement of which, as part of a closing video montage, was met with roars of the most riotous approval from the fanbase, dubbed now officially ‘THE ONE’. Between this, taken as a clear and undeniable indication of an impending sophomore album, and the face meltingly kawaii English goodbyes that the girls are now traditionally using to say farewell at the end of the show, served to send the crowd into raptures and despatch everyone on their way with the assembled throng bristling with excited chatter as to what the future holds for this remarkable new act.
And so, the legend clearly continues. On a personal note, I wish to thank each and every one of the attendees to the concert, and to those from all over the world who made an effort to show up, roar your support like demented yokai, and most importantly, those who after the show, converged on the nearby Canterbury Arms to mingle, sing, dance and rink and get to know one another better. It was a very special occasion and added more sense of occasion to and already grand evening’s entertainment. Each and every one of you did your countries proud and I continue to be amazed by the fabulous qualities that this amazing band seems to draw out in its fan base.
Perhaps ‘Babymetal Death’ in the future will be considered an oxymoron. I saw another reviewer of the show earlier suggest that if ‘you don’t like Babymetal, you don’t like fun’. Well, I have to second that, but would perhaps taker i one step further and say if you can’t love Babymetal, then you can’t truly be alive, because on Saturday night, man…..
… we were ALIVE