Review: BABYMETAL @ The Fortitude Music Hall (Brisbane)

BABYMETAL played The Fortitude Music Hall (Brisbane) 8 June, 2023 - image © Clea-marie Thorne
With an insatiable passion for live music and photography adventures, this mistress of gig chronicles loves the realms of metal and blues but wanders all musical frontiers and paints you vibrant landscapes through words and pics (@lilmissterror) that share the very essence of her sonic journeys with you.

Sold out shows are nothing new for BABYMETAL on international shores, so why would Australia's maiden all-ages BABYMETAL World Tour 2023 show in Brisbane be any different? It wasn't.

I park behind the venue, almost an hour before doors open at The Fortitude Music Hall (8 June). The queue of punters has snaked this far around the block already; eventually the tail of the line ended up snaking around to meet its head!

It's a sight I have never witnessed before. Insane to see, simply nuts. I image a drone perspective would see an Ouroboros (a snake or dragon eating its own tail) made from the horde of BABYMETAL fans.

Reliqa are the first act for the night and Monique Pym (vocals), Brandon Lloyd (guitar), Miles Knox (bass) and Shannon Griesburg (drums) are straight into meeting the energy level of a super excited crowd.

They are anything but the title of their opener 'Bearer Of Bad News'; they are a welcomed treat. My word, the pipes and confident 'tude of Pym is always a captivating experience!

Reliqa - image © Clea-marie Thorne

Reliqa is on fire with 'Mr Magic', 'Hangman', and 'The Halfway Point' all smashing us in the chops and making us giddy with their alternative rock energy and precision playing.

I love that BABYMETAL has an Aussie band with a kick-ass frontwoman warming our ear lugs.

Reliqa pump out another five songs including 'Safety' and 'Cave' before taking us out with one of my favourite tracks, 'The Ritualist', and the title song 'I Don't Know What I Am' – both from their recent EP that boasts amazing vocal harmonies and crazy-cool arrangements within it.

BABYMETAL enter the stage preceded by a cinematic deep space announcement: "In a heavy metal galaxy far, far away. . ." using the digital backdrop that finally announces – BABYMETAL!

Four musicians in Kami-style masks for anonymity add to the heavy atmosphere too. Two on guitar, one on bass and another on drums take their places at the back of the stage amid the smoke.

Seconds later, Sumetal, Moametal and Momometal – the BABYMETAL trio – are before us. Their stage costumes are immaculate and impressive.

BABYMETAL - image © Clea-marie Thorne

The young ladies are wearing black layered, pleated handkerchief skirted dresses made from snakeskin (or dragon scale) fabric, the black vinyl vest and cuffs are embellished with studs at the end of polka dot laced arm inserts.

There is jagged, shimmering clear, pearlescent vinyl strips dropping from the waist to the hip with more of this shimmering vinyl sewn in a protruding V-shaped lapel to the shoulders – not unlike Riff-Raff's 'Rocky Horror Picture Show' space suit. Fabulous! Simply a stunning sight to behold.

Agitated drums are accentuated by a wall of gnarly riffage that is met with rowdy welcoming cheers and an onslaught of straight-up moshing mayhem with 'BABYMETAL DEATH'.

Sumetal, Moametal and Momometal display jaw dropping and perfectly executed choreographed dance moves. It's martial arts for metal music; seriously their leaps and twirling kicks could become the latest street fighter moves. Bold and brilliant from the get-go.

BABYMETAL - image © Clea-marie Thorne

It's not all about mashing thrash with high octane dance patterns. BABYMETAL bring a visual cuteness and audible sweetness through their signature J-pop flavours poured over the metal mayhem of the band and screaming vocals.

Sumetal counts us in for the jump into the molten and candy laced magic of 'Megitsune'. Punters ecstatically jump, scream, yell, crowd surf and boogie with an exuberance that can only be contributed to the power being generated by the three performing for us onstage.

BABYMETAL smashed through their entire set with the solid, heavy energy of the band blitzed with a kinetic energy of syrupy sweetness.

The interchange of these different energies is highlighted through 'Iine!', which translates to 'It's good!' and that is an understatement – but many people mistake "iine" for Line! Including posts to the interwebs!

Fox God hand signs are reflective of creative art culture and stage theatre enmeshed in their shows. Even the face masks are in keeping with their origin story.

Die-hard fans are reeling in bliss with the likes of 'Shanti, Shanti, Shanti', 'MAYA' and the treasured 'Mirror, Mirror'. Some punters even hold imaginary mirrors to their faces.

BABYMETAL - image © Clea-marie Thorne

BABYMETAL fans are literally sent into a rapture with the commencement of 'BxMxC'! This corking banger has the wooden floor vibrating so strongly now, I can feel it rising to the tip of my head – approx; 3,000 pairs of feet are stomping and jumping. Did Brisbane just register an earthquake?

A pre-teen next to me has their body dancing in uncontrollable fits and starts, while holding their hand up punctuating the beats! They are so fixated and in a moshing trance, I am torn between watching the stage and this young human in total live music ecstasy.

I am not sure any other live music experience is going to live up to this one being imprinted on their developing mind right now.

Sumetal showcases her powerful pipes during the touching and beautiful 'Monochrome' and the crowd join in the "Oh, oh, oh, ohs".

This far in and the dynamic trio continue with a perfect performance, still performing flawlessly throughout 'Distortion' and 'PA PA YA!!' that is featuring backing vocals and visuals from Thai rap veteran, F.HERO.

The collective energy continues cascading and crashing around the room. I'm at a loss as to how to describe the infectious insanity in the room as fans are now acting out a sugar high of mega proportions to 'Gimme Chocolate!!'. What a rush it is.

The venue is a tumultuous sea of banging heads and flailing arms. Sumetal is giving her pipes a workout that is keeping the crowd transfixed in this unending frenzy. Young humans are on the shoulders of their parents or guardians with sensible ear protection, getting their head-bang on.

It's at this point I think we should all be exhausted, but on the contrary the sensory overload and relentless vivacity of the trio and their band mixed with the unbridled energy of their fans is injecting us all with a shot of climaxing energy; tomorrow is going to be hard on older bodies. Ouch!

Guitars slowly shred the intro to 'Road Of Resistance' backed by crashing cymbals as the trio raise their 'BABYMETAL' flags. The shredding is now crashing in more intensely with the tubs being smashed to smithereens as candy-laced vocals soar over the top of this bedlam.

I do not know how it is possible, but it's inciting chaos in the mosh all the way to the end of the song including crowd sing-alongs to the "whoa, oh, oh, oh" parts. Music really transcends all language barriers.

This is the song that sees BABYMETAL disappear from view. The screams for one more song are literally ear-splitting!

Although it is an all-ages show, it is at this point I fear the venue will have riot on their hands should the crowd calls for Sumetal, Momometal and Moametal not result in their return for a ritualistic encore.

My fears are quickly extinguished with the eruption of jubilation from the crowd as they return to the oft programmed beats ahead of sweet and clear vocals that lead us into the heavier instrumentation of 'METAL KINGDOM'.

The trio back this up with their BABYMETAL banger 'Ijime, Dame, Zettai' that raises the euphoria to the absolute extreme that I have never witnessed before.

Sumetal, Momometal and Moametal give gracious bows to beaming and winded punters who are still managing to show their unquestionable appreciation and adoration with rowdy cheers and screams.

It was a sell-out. It was electrifyingly intense – to steal from the song title, it was Iine. In every way and then some. I reckon a second show in Brisbane would have raised just as many punters and I pity the adults and kiddies who missed the contrasting spectacle that is BABYMETAL.

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