All-girl Japanese bands have been quite popular these days (I’m an avid fan of one although I wouldn’t say said band is/was the main proponent of this popularity, especially in the UK). I can’t exactly remember how I discovered BAND-MAID, but I have a feeling it was the ubiquitousness of Kobato Miku, their rhythm guitarist. And when I found that almost all of their material had hooks large enough to land a whale, I began to properly check them out. So much so that I have all their albums (I think) to date but as compared to the missus’ band, I admit I don’t listen to BAND-MAID that much. It took a while but I finally got to see them live after my recent Ōsaka trip. This was their fourth ever performance in London and from the looks of the queue on exiting the Tufnell Park tube station, they do seem to have a strong following in this neck of the woods. I’ve noticed that the types of punters of this night’s gig come from a wide spectrum, ranging from the J-anything fetishist to the common or garden rock/metal aficionado.

I have a slight issue with BAND-MAID that they so can do without the maid image. Despite their maido personae, the lasses are good at the what they do, if not superb. Bar one, if I might add. The band member in question is again Miku, who is also a founding member and band lyricist. It’s not that she is bad, but Miku appears to compensate for her virtuosity at guitar by providing second vocals (she can sing) and being pretty/adorable/kawaii for the (mostly male) fans. Whilst bands can evolve musically and image-wise, having that particular monicker for the band unfortunately means BAND-MAID are kinda stuck with looking like Nishi-shinjuku hotel chambermaids. But yeah, I get it. It’s an act. As much as 9 grown men from Des Moines wear masks and jumpsuits playing metal.

Bearing in mind that I don’t listen to BAND-MAID religiously, I came to the gig pretty “empty handed”. No prep, no nothing. Since I know that their songs are actually fantastic, I was pretty confident I was gonna have a ball. And I was sure to go “I know that one! But what is it called…” There was no support act and after the “classroom” photo sesh with the band, there was about less than an hour before they got onstage. They kicked off the set with DOMINATION from their current WORLD DOMINATION record (recognised the Hello… hello bit in the chorus!). The sound was superb even though I was close-ish (5th-ish row) to the stage – Kanami was an ace on her emerald Custom 24 PRS, driving a Mesa Triple Rec half stack. Once again, I thought to myself WTF are you wearing that maid outfi… oh, well. Throughout the night, Miku only had her LP-styled Zemaitis. Akane’s drumming behind that Tama kit was spot-on superb – loved her double pedal work (モラトリアム rocked live).

BAND-MAID’s set was relentless – they played song after song, and there was no ballad or anything to provide any respite for the band or the punters. From where I was, the choruses were my saving grace to add to my enjoyment of the evening – namely on Play, non-fiction, モラトリアム, CROSS, Don’t you (loved the love me, love me and whoa-oh-oh-oh audience participation on this), or the verse itself – like the oh-oohs on alone. I have to say that MISA (I kinda like her look – I wonder if she does tsunder… kiddingkidding) is a bare-footed beast on her 5-string J-styled Black Cloud BLACK SMOKER J5 bass. Or her J5 growled like a beast, through an Orange stack. I was bowled over by her opening on DICE. Last but not least, Saiki may not talk to the audience much – her voice was ace, and to do what she did the relentless way the band did the live set, I’ve to say props to her.

Apart from an earlier MC, Miku spoke about visiting the National Gallery and Trafalgar Square and followed this with her maido kissa audience participation segment of moe moe kyuun “Magic Spell Time” instead of the usual pre-encore break. It was quite amusing especially when the other four members just goofed around around the drum riser. Why don’t you watch the whole 10- minute segment, as recorded by Nerd OD[1]:

After the “magic” segment, they played their latest single, glory – another hook-laden rocker with that danceable samba-esque rhythm in the chorus. REAL EXISTENCE was rocking as fcuk and they ended the show with the clap along Choose Me.

I’ve to say it was one of those rare ‘just turn up and bloody ‘ell that was a good gig’ nights. Not too sure if I’ll go to Japan just to see how they are like with their home crowd, but to ensure some dates coincide with a trip over yonder should/could be a consideration. As for the classroom photo I mentioned earlier, I only got to see them a few days ago:

I’d recommend any fan of good rock/metal to check them out if they ever come to play live. If you think this is a novelty band, just forget about the maid get up – their individual/collective musicianship’s top notch will defo make up for it.

The Dome, Tufnell Park, London 17.11.2018 set list: DOMINATION / Play / the non-fiction days / モラトリアム / CROSS / Don’t you tell ME / TURN ME ON / secret My lips / DICE / start over / onset / CARRY ON LIVING / CLANG / SPIRIT!! / alone // glory / you. / FREEDOM / REAL EXISTENCE / Choose Me

[1]Check out Nerd OD’s vlog review of the gig here.