Live Report Exclusive

NECRONOMIDOL at HYPER LIVE, London

01/09/2022 2022-09-01 02:00:00 JaME Author: ChrisN

NECRONOMIDOL at HYPER LIVE, London

The dark idols return.


© ChrisN
The H.P. Lovecraft-inspired dark idols NECRONOMIDOL have been pioneers of the Tokyo chika idol scene, breaking out of that somewhat parochial and insular niche in Japan’s music industry to bring their alternative brand of idol to the world. International tours for the group have become an annual event, although the coronavirus derailed that recently.

It’s been a tough couple of years for the idol business in general, and NECRONOMIDOL in particular. The Japanese government’s COVID-19 prevention measures wrecked the live music scene, but like some indestructible eldritch creature, NECRONOMIDOL kept going no matter what this mortal world threw at them, be it departing members or COVID-related live venue shutdowns and travel restrictions.

NECRONOMIDOL were the first idol group to head overseas once Japan re-opened its borders in 2021 and they were back again in 2022 for a European tour that took in Germany, France and Sweden and also included a return to the HYPER JAPAN festival as one of its UK dates. Much had changed since their last appearance at the Japanese culture expo in 2019 though.

HYPER JAPAN adopted a different format for their live music offering this year. Teaming up with promoters Orion Live they created HYPER LIVE, a separate ‘taiban’-style show on the Friday and Saturday evenings after the main HYPER JAPAN event, showcasing five or six artists rather than having individual performances programmed throughout the day. The honour of topping Saturday night’s ‘alternative’-themed bill went to the latest iteration of NECRONOMIDOL, featuring Himari Tsukishiro, now the longest serving member, alongside Malin Kozakura, Meica Mochinaga and newest addition Hisui Kurogane, who was unveiled just a few short weeks previously. Just to give an idea of the upheaval NECRONOMIDOL have been through in recent years, Hisui was the tenth new member to join since Himari made her debut in 2017.

There was a buzz of excitement around the place as NECRONOMIDOL silently took up their starting positions. Clad all in black, with flowing kimono-style sleeves, their costumes were reminiscent of Necroma’s original shrine maiden look. The screams rang out from the crowd as they instantly recognised the synth intro to long-time fan favourite Skulls in the Stars. If there was any doubt that the London audience might take a while to warm up to this new version of NECRONOMIDOL, it was dispelled straight away as the chanting and clapping set the atmosphere alight.

Himari may have been slightly overshadowed by some of the group’s bigger personalities in the past, but as the senior member she has been clearly relishing the role of senpai and centre of attention in recent years. She gave off the impression of a tall and graceful leader, cutting elegant moves and even throwing a few flirty winks at the crowd as the others scampered all around like her dark minions. The energy was kept up with Nyx, one of the perkier numbers from their back catalogue, despite its dark and romantically doom-laden lyrics. As the song drew to a close and the lights faded to black Hisui quietly ghosted off stage, leaving the mid-section of the show to be performed by a trio. Presumably, the new recruit had only been able to learn a few routines in the brief time she’d been with NECRONOMIDOL.

The heavy chopping guitars of Ritual’s intro blared out of the speakers and the threesome whirled into action. Himari’s vocals suit the darkly melodramatic tone of the song and Malin revelled in the dramatic moments, punching them home with her enthusiastic delivery. Meica could barely stop smiling throughout the show, which might not quite fit the gothic horror concept, but at least she seemed to be enjoying herself.

NECRONOMIDOL’s songs take in a surprisingly broad range of genres, with influences as disparate as dark metal and synthwave, and fans in attendance got a burst of garage punk from Necropolis, while the mournful vocals to End of Days were were accompanied by an urgent speed metal backing.

Hisui glided back on stage under cover of darkness for the finale, which was another fan favourite, Ithaqua. The high energy dance routine on the hot, sweaty July evening made for an interesting contrast to the song’s chilling lyrics and memories of the music video where NECRONOMIDOL stood uncomfortably in a windswept, snowy forest, slowly succumbing to hypothermia. The clapping and chanting surged as the song built to its finish. Himari cried out “Minna issho ni!” and everybody joined in with the wailing refrain as she swished her impressively long mane of black hair to and fro.

It wouldn’t be an idol show without an MC and NECRONOMIDOL saved it until the end to introduce themselves. Himari was pleased to hear that a big chunk of the crowd had seen their 2019 appearance at HYPER JAPAN and Meica shared her thanks in English, prompted by notes written on her wrist. After a commemorative photo with the crowd, their manager was greeted with an appreciative chant of “Ricky! Ricky!” As he captured the moment, NECRONOMIDOL headed off stage to well earned applause.

Despite NECRONOMIDOL’s rapidly revolving door of membership, their loyal international fanbase has stuck with them. There’s still a lot of love out there for these dark idols and they will certainly need it given subsequent events. It’s a shame to finish an account of such an entertaining evening on a downer, but it should be noted that NECRONOMIDOL broke apart just a few days later. Everything may have gone swimmingly on stage, but it seems behind the scenes it was a different matter. The group will go on hiatus to reconsider the future, with Himari currently the sole remaining member. It’s a painful reminder of the often fragile and impermanent nature of idol groups, but hopefully NECRONOMIDOL will rise again.

Set list

01. Skulls in the Stars
02. Nyx
03. Ritual
04. Necropolis
05. End of Days
06. Ithaqua
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