BAND-MAID gained a lot of new fans after their first performance in the UK at MCM London Comic Con back in May. Following that weekend, drummer Akane tweeted out “We will definitely come back!!” It was an unexpected surprise to learn that they would be returning a lot sooner than anyone would have expected.
Incorporating the culture of maid cafés, the Tokyo five-piece consists of Miku (guitar and vocals), Saiki (vocals), Kanami (guitar), Akane (drums) and Misa (bassist). The maid café theme was present during their ‘serving’ in London. “How is it going masters and princesses?” asked Kanami.
Miku also chanted with the crowd, instructing them, “I say moe-moe, you say moe-moe.” It wasn’t long before she was getting everyone to repeat after her, as she chanted moe-moe, kyun-kyun, London and BAND-MAID.
The popularity of the J-pop/J-rock scene in the UK during the last four years has seen the likes of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Perfume, SCANDAL and BABYMETAL come to perform in London. Their appearances are rare, and for that reason their shows are always popular. However, it’s not often that a J-rock band comes to the UK twice within a six month period. When BAND-MAID announced their Brand New MAID tour, one of the venues listed was the Underworld at Camden, London. Either this is one of those few uncommon occurrences or the start of a paradigm shift.
Given their rapid ascent, BAND-MAID themselves have commented on the millions of views their music videos have amassed, helped largely via YouTube and Facebook (the members also have accounts on Twitter and Instagram). If it wasn’t for fans worldwide reacting positively on social media, then the band might not have taken the step to go on tour.
Their Brand New MAID tour kicked off just days before their appearance in London, which saw them perform in Mexico for the first time. The tour also included the option for VIP ticket holders to meet and greet the band, receiving a signed photo and limited DVD in the process.
As expected, the venue was packed. Good music has no boundaries and BAND-MAID had managed to drag out a broad audience of all ages. It appeared that one woman had even brought her two children along (or maybe the children brought their mother?).
BAND-MAID’s appearance at MCM London Comic Con saw three 30-minute performances split up over the weekend. If that was a few energy bars then their ‘serving’ at the Underworld was the full meal fans had been waiting for; a 90-minute powerhouse that saw them playing a total of 18 tracks, with all the nutritional goodness from the albums New Beginning and Brand New MAID, as well as their new track YOLO for dessert.
Just minutes before they were due to appear, the crowd were already chanting for BAND-MAID. As each member stepped onto the stage, they didn’t waste any time and jumped straight into REAL EXISTENCE. Contrasting with the cute maid attire is the sound of hard rock, and BAND-MAID were firing on all cylinders. Their performances of the non-fiction days and Price of Pride were particular highlights where the venue erupted.
It’s also worth noting that their stage positions were reversed when compared to previous performances (from left to right, Kanami, Akane, Saiki, Miku and Misa), likely down to the layout of the stage itself. It also resulted in Akane being obscured by her fellow maids, but that in no way diminished the strength of her drumming.
After five songs, the band took a short break as Miku finally addressed the crowd with a beaming smile. “I love London,” she said. “I’m very, very, very, very, very happy!” In fact there were numerous moments where the members spoke about just how happy they were, as if it wasn’t already clear on their faces. Here was a group enjoying themselves just as much as their masters and princesses.
Realising the crowd-pleasing nature of Kanami’s guitar solos, there were a few occasions where she was given room to take to the centre of the stage; the performance of YURAGU being one memorable example. Because, let’s face it, seeing Kanami shred is something everyone should see before they die.
“Introduce myself time,” said Miku after performing the non-fiction days. It was evident during their introductions that the Misa-chant from Seattle’s Sakura-Con had been carried over (there was a smile on Misa’s face before she even got to the microphone).
Any worries that the band would be straining towards the end was shattered completely during the final two songs; saving the best for last with FREEDOM and alone. If there was a point during the show where the walls of the Underworld damn near blew apart from the intensity displayed by both the group and their fans, then this was it, with Saiki belting it out during FREEDOM as if her life depended upon it, while fans were singing along during alone.
Before alone, the crowd were chanting for one more, an encore (also referencing the group’s Sunday performance at MCM London Comic Con). “No, no, no,” said Saiki.
“Encore is next time London,” said Miku. “Understand?” Well, it’s nice to know that there will be a next time.
Thank you to JPU Records.
Photos by Harriett Greene (Manga Girl Photography)
Written by Shalimar Sahota.