On the 19th of March, I went up to Birmingham to see HIM live in concert. I arrived in Birmingham at 2pm and started lining up about half 3. There was already about 20-25 people there. It seemed that non-stop rain wasn’t going to ruin their excitement of seeing Finnish rockers HIM that Friday night.
The support band was pitched perfectly at the average HIM fan. Personally, I hadn’t heard of goth rockers Dommin before hearing them that night, but they were much better than I expected them to be. There was one woman who eagerly pushed past people to get to the front, who was the only one around me who was jumping and singing along with Dommin. A cover of 80’s song “I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight” was an immediate icebreaker. Their intention of setting a romantic atmosphere worked well along with throwing roses into the crowd.
As soon as the lights went down, the stage was suddenly the target for balloons, bras and all kind of random things throughout the night and sometimes it was really difficult to understand what vocalist Ville Valo was saying with all the screams and marriage proposals from the crowd. Luckily, Ville was in a playful mood with his tongue in his cheek, babbling nonsense in his own way which brings a smile to my face (and many others) At one point, he stopped to read an extract from Tim Burton’s The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories – which was a book thrown from someone in the crowd. To my own admission, even I went weak at his low baritone voice.
HIM done well with the set list for Friday night considering their large back catalogue of amazing songs. There were the classic crowd pleasers throughout the set for the die-hard fans such as Right Here In My Arms, Join Me, Wicked Game and The Funeral of Hearts. Soul On Fire was a last minute replacement for The Sacrament in the encore. Kiss of Dawn, the only song played from heavy album Venus Doom, was a slight mood killer and even Ville looked bored as he painfully plodded through to the final chorus. In my opinion, maybe Venus Doom, Bleed Well or another of my favourites Sleepwalking Past Hope would have been a better choice, Fortunately, material from the new album Screamworks picked up the pace. Like St. Valentine was a great opener. Heartkiller, Katherine Wheel (my personal favourite – can you guess one of the reasons why?) and Love The Hardest Way sent fans crazy, whereas Scared to Death and Disarm Me lulled everyone into a more calmer state when the pushing and jumping got too much. I would have loved it if they had played the whole album.
Unfortunately I got way too hot and sweaty for my liking, and the mosh pit got too heavy for me so I departed to the right side of the crowd where I could actually breathe and enjoy the gig a bit more. It did result in spending the rest of the gig listening to the side of Ville (I much preferred to be in front of him and I was pretty close to the stage as well! I wasn’t the only one though, as I saw (from standing at the side) that a few people were being pulled out of the crowd by security guards as they were getting too hot and crushed. However, I decided it was better for me to live to see the end of the gig. And anyway, I chose the correct side to stand because Ville always sings to “stage right”. There were small sound issues twice during the final encore (The Funeral of Hearts) Ville stopped singing to curse at the sound tech and insisted that the hi-hat audio problems were ironed out. It was nice to see that he cared so much about our enjoyment of the sound quality, especially since it was the last song of the night and the crowd were clearly oblivious to any technical hitches. It’s also heartening to realise that Ville was sober enough to notice the problem. It wasn’t that long ago that he could barely remember the song lyrics by the end of a set let alone pay attention to the sound levels. Although the vocalist may be winning the battle with alcohol, I couldn’t help but notice that he was a lot thinner than usual :-(
Overall, the gig was everything that I hoped it would be, I just wish that I was a lot stronger (to push everyone off me) and was wearing less (to combat heat) so I could have stayed in front of the stage! Or at least, be the only person there :P I wanted to get a picture with Ville but they made a very, very discreet exit out of the venue plus I was too busy getting crushed on the way out as well. I just hope that Screamworks isn’t their last album and I’ll have the opportunity to see them live again.
A short clip by me, of HIM performing Katherine Wheel.
A short clip by me, of HIM performing Kiss of Dawn.
A short clip by me,of HIM performing Right Here In My Arms.