Into The Darkest Heart of The British Empire: NECRONOMIDOL in London

Pukovnik Krv and Kerrie hit up the NECRONOMIDOL show in London this past week, where an interview may have been conducted(!) and many photos taken. Here’s Krv’s take on the event, plus many of said photos. If you dig it, why not give my dude’s Bandcamp a look, too?

A few days have now passed since the convening of spirits that occurred one fateful night in The Smoke, rousing rowdy rambunctious rebels ’round the Sassenach lands to descend upon The Water Rats, a watering hole for the toffs. Therefore, I must drop my pompous tone to declaim in detail the shit that went down.

As the first underground Japanese idol group, to my knowledge, to host a one-man live in the UK, I was expecting there to be a decent turnout. In actuality, a crowd bigger than I’ve ever seen them draw in Japan turned out as Japanophiles, weebs, otaku and bangya flocked to the show as well as wota, leaving the place packed with a melting pot of young and old, Northern and Southern, upper and working class, and all races coming together for … Necroma?

It might be worth at this point going into some of my personal history with Necroma. I can’t precisely remember the first time I encountered them, suffice to say it was likely when I visited Japan in late 2014. Drawn to their dark sound, at first the black metal, and latterly the darkwave, I got talking to Sari and Ruu the first time and so, when I moved to Japan in February 2015, I saw them quite often in that first month before I had a job.

After that, some stuff happened and Ruu left, but then Hotaru joined. Hotaru was a rampaging cyclone of death and destruction that decimated all before her. She was also good friends with Shion (formerly of Guso Drop, at that point my oshi), and the two of them formed the bizarre group Shion to Hotaru to Negishi-tan, Negishi being some kind of food they were both fond of. Karen and Hina also joined around this time, Karen being absolutely adorkable (often just joining the crowd to do full-on wotagei like thundersnake) and Hina at the time being somewhat shy and timid.

I continued with both Hotaru and Karen until I left, with a particularly amazing event being Hotaru’s seitansai in December at Asagaya Loft A, in which Shion made her glorious return to Guso Drop after having spent several months studying (she’d then quit a few months later), Necroma were absolutely on fire, and Lili (Hotaru’s other best friend, a fashion designer and weird socialmediaist) also turned up to cause chaos. After this live I didn’t see them again until Tuesday. It was a damn long time, meaning I’d yet to see the new members after suffering the double hit of both Hotaru and Karen graduating (speaking of, by the time they graduated I think Hotaru had about 5 or 6 chekis of mine that she’d taken home to turn into art; and Karen had about 3. Don’t think I’m ever getting them back…). Needless to say, I was intrigued as to what the two new members would bring to the group and how it would stack up against the insane antics of who they replaced.

To start with, I met up with two merry reprobates, Jul3rd (a long-standing friend to whom I introduced to the being-stepped-on cheki, an artform which he has now taken to such lengths that among Zekkyou’s F he is universally referred to as “that super-masochist English bloke”) and Jangles, who off the top of my head I think is a Mousou Calibration wota. Both planned on getting wankered, but I needed my wits about me as I had to aid Kerrie with her interview by taking pretty pictures, and then try to do the same at the live itself. I’m leaving the interview portion of the post to Kerrie, as she wrote down the answers, but after being marched up what seemed like 5 flights of stairs by Ricky we had the interview, in the kitchen of the flat they’d been provided above the venue. The new members were very polite and courteous, Sari and Hina remembered me, and Kakizaki was as tsundere as ever. After taking some nice pictures, being interrupted by a bloke walking through the kitchen to get to the shower, as he lived in the flat next to it, and numerous bangs as he fell over or something, interview time was over and we headed back down whilst talking to Ricky.

Before the live started I met up with a guy I know from Japan, who’s studying in Brighton, and then it was time to start the show.

As I was lugging around a Canon 5DMkII, I wasn’t expecting the surge of people that subsequently descended upon the relatively tiny space of the gig area at the back of the pub. I’d been hoping to have a decent amount of space to move around in, but as it was I was trying to go back and forth from left to right whilst holding the camera above my head and just guessing what the angle was to dodge everyone’s heads and hands. Either way, some decent shots were achieved.

The live itself was good, a mixture of new and old, showcasing a tour de force of Necroma. The setlist, per Kakizaki, was:

SE
Skulls in the Stars
Dawnslayer
-Introduction MC-
AZATHOTH
ITHAQUA
puella tenebrarum
Psychopomp
-Ricky-translated long MC-
4.7L
Chun-King Redline
KERES THANATOIO
Warabe-uta

The performance was spot on. Everyone sounded great, Sari especially hitting notes I’ve heard her struggle with before with almost operatic vigour; and the dancing was on point and pretty damn good. They really brought their A-game on this tour with them. Both Himari and Rei impressed me with their performance abilities. Rei in particular was a little bundle of energy. The reason I have so few photos of Rei in comparison to the others is because she wouldn’t stay still long enough for me to get her in focus before she bounced off elsewhere on stage. Himari just oozed dignity and class with her performance, reminding me a hell of a lot of ex-Mugen Regina front lady Haruno Megumi in the way her expression and voice depict the drama of the lyrics. Hina continued her march to becoming my favourite since Hotaru left by bouncing around in a fluttering of lace petticoats and flounce, radiating a lot more happiness and sweetness than she used to when she was pretty timid and insular both performing and in buppan, and Kakizaki did what she always does and dominate the stage.

The MCs were pretty standard, the second one with Ricky in particular resulting in more uses of the word “stoked” in the space of ten minutes than has ever occured in the UK prior to this. A lot of the songs were new to me, as I haven’t had the chance to get the new album yet, but I enjoyed them. “Keres Thanatoio” was a glorious NWOBHM track to play, considering NWOBHM’s birthplace being… well… Britain. I would have liked a little more from the from chaos born EP, being that it’s chock-full of awesomeness, but time restraints understandably have to be adhered to.

The crowd were a little unsure of what to do, a lot of the time. There were a group of veterans near the front, who obviously knew most of the chants and wotagei (although Japanese twitter is currently laughing at them recreating MIX in the wrong order), but at the sides and back people were either doing whatever (one girl was just dancing her heart out; another guy was sitting down sketching the group) and were in need of direction. At a few points I stopped shooting and tried to get the crowd to move or chant, but Necroma aren’t quite at the level where everything has to all be uniform so in a way it was a nice change.

Post-show, the buppan involved chekis for £8 with the whole group, rather than individually, so many people got lots of chekis. I, being short on time, didn’t. I did, however, find Alan, the guy behind Kushikatsu Records who I met several times in Japan at a lot of different groups. He seemed chuffed with the amount of people they’d drawn, and saying they’d nearly broken even. Assuming a small push to get those figures into the profitable margins, what’s to say other enterprising idols groups couldn’t achieve similar results? Especially with the ticket prices for the Necroma gig so incredibly low, at just £8, I’m sure pushing prices to £12 or even £16 would still draw 90-95% of the crowd, with a 150-200% increase in remuneration per ticket.

Whether the success of this gig can be explained away as a natural maturation of the Babymetal crowd into more niche groups, or good marketing to all of the different demographics that make up the various Japanese fandoms in the UK, something that can definitely be said about this is that Necroma have opened a door to Europe for Japanese idol groups that, with the exception of large-scale festivals catering to larger groups, didn’t exist beforehand. And should any other promoters have been circling, looking towards financial outcomes for any Japanese group that isn’t Babymetal to take a punt on, I think they might have been pleasantly surprised.

Necroma have landed. Now it’s time for the rest of the underground idol scene to wake up and join them.

3 thoughts on “Into The Darkest Heart of The British Empire: NECRONOMIDOL in London

  1. I was there and have been a fan of Necroma for a couple years now, but a lot of the people I chatted to whilst I was there either heard about them within the few days preceding the live or had shown up due to friends or simply because there was something on at the local, which is pretty interesting.

    I did chat with a few others after the gig as well and they all seemed pretty happy with the live, so I guess this was not only a success for the group as a live, but also gained them some new fans as well. I wonder whether this was the same for their other lives on the tour.

    I really enjoyed the show, they managed to exceed my expectations compared to what I’d seen in their live recordings and I already had pretty high hopes. I’d love if this means more groups can come over to the UK as well, something like Guso Drop or There There Theres would be wonderful.

  2. LOL at the surprise mention. Jangles isn’t a Moso Calibration wota though… his main is Tenkoushoujo and his 2nd is Necronomidol. Sari knows him quite well – she handed him the mic during the live to tell the crowd to sit down for her self-intro/catchphrase MC, but as aforementioned plan of getting wankered was a success… he just shouted SARI-CHAN! into the mic before realising…

    Anyway, it was a really fun event, I’m really glad they came, and I’m really glad I went, and I hope more idols make the trip over! It was great to have them in a small proper venue for a one-man, not as part of some convention, or an event with bands.

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