Live Review: BABYMETAL – First Direct Arena, Leeds – 14.04.23

Even before BABYMETAL hit the stage in Leeds on the first leg of this European Tour with Sabaton, the room was hyped. Finnish rock legends Lordi opened up with a characteristically theatrical set, lead singer Mr. Lordi stalking back and forth and roaring the crowd into an early frenzy. 

BABYMETAL’s entrance is typically dramatic. Masked, the Kami Band prowled to their positions, like devil-horned versions of Kylo Ren.

A moment passes as the opening strains of BABYMETAL DEATH flow from the stage – shivering, vibrating drum fills generating enough energy to power the imposing wall of strobe lights that back the stage set. 

The kawaii metal stars march on purposely from stage left, led by Moametal (Moa Kikuchi), followed by Su-Metal (Suzuka Nakamoto) and finally Momometal – newest addition to the band, Momoko Okazaki.

Powerful, posturing and undeniably – well…cute, it’s the beautifully juxtaposed vision everyone came here for. Relentlessly moving into Distortion and Megitsune there is no let up asked for by, or given to, the ecstatic crowd. They bounce and surge, mosh pits develop and collapse in on themselves all around the arena floor.

It doesn’t stop. It’s 40 minutes of breathless cute-metal, piercing vocals and dynamic dance routines against the deep and visceral music. By the time we hit Gimme Chocolate, perhaps the poppiest, most radio friendly of the setlist, and out and out crowd favourite, BABYMETAL are singing to a joyful, sweaty mess of a crowd who would have gladly roared through another hour of this were it not for the impending arrival of Sabaton.

The Kami band are a bona fide heavy metal powerhouse and to some degree, it’s that power and energy that bounces the crowd into action. There are some for who the clash of styles of cute J-Pop and Metal just doesn’t sit well, but I don’t find too many of them among the assembled audience in Leeds. The thunderous sound from the back of the stage would be enough on its own to bring this metal-obsessed crowd to life, but throw in the boundless energy of BABYMETAL and it’s something else. I spoke to a few people on the way out of the venue, and they said that they “enjoyed it, but I don’t know why!”

And perhaps that’s the beauty of BABYMETAL. They’re something of an enigma for sure, but one that has already proved to have staying power and will continue to do so. They’re a more polished proposition than they were when I saw them in 2016 (in their first incarnation, supporting Red Hot Chili Peppers), and the Japanese juggernaut doesn’t look like it’s about to slow down.

If you want to define them, then maybe this will help. While I was researching for this piece, I came across a quote in the comments section on YouTube that will sum this up better than I’m able to.

“BABYMETAL is what happens when you try to summon Satan but run out of salt to make your pentagram and substitute it with sugar”.


The tour continues around the UK and Europe until May 20

Set List:
Gimme Chocolate
Road of Resistance

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  1. […] 「BABYMETALは、サタンを召喚しようとしたが、五芒星を作るための塩が足りなくなり、砂糖で代用したときに起こるものだ」。 […]

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