Tonight is the night that Finnish Metallers HIM, pioneers of the genre Love Metal, hit the home of heavy music Birmingham for their Screamworks European Tour bringing with them Goth-Rock types Dommin. It’s raining and the queue outside the Academy makes for a sombre sight with the vast majority of the crowd wearing black with Heartagrams galore.
I must confess the last time I properly listened to HIM was back in 2003 when they released their aptly titled ‘Love Metal’ album that back then racked up numerous plays on my CD player. They then went on to became one of those bands that I stopped listening as my music tastes evolved. It wasn’t until I saw this concert being advertised that I asked myself; what are HIM doing with themselves these days? Turns out since then they have gone on to release a further 3 studio albums the most recent being their 2010 offering ‘Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice’. Thought it was about time I reacquainted myself with the Finnish Metallers again.
They say you should never judge a book by its cover and the same should be said about band names. When I saw that Dommin were supporting I was a bit apprehensive as I thought I was going to be subjected to some kind of death metal (Can’t say I’m a fan); I couldn’t have been more wrong. Moody red lighting lit the stage with backdrops of some pretty impressive skullroses and roses on the microphone stands, the band came on all dressed in black, the singer sporting a very interesting Misfits style hair do. They definitely weren’t what I was expecting playing a dark romantic style of music reminiscent of The Cure and dare I say it early AFI. The lead singer had an pretty amazing voice, so very deep it was definitely doing things for the two middle aged women stood in front of me who were practically swooning. These guys played an extremely tight set with some pretty interesting samples thrown in between songs that sounded like they came straight out of a horror film. Their cover of Cutting Crew’s (I Just) Died in Your Arms Tonight went down a storm, warming up the crowd and they left the stage to rapturous applause.
It was quite clear as to whom everyone was here to see tonight and with a heroes welcome HIM took to the stage. It’s fair to say the crowd went absolutely mental it has to be the loudest cheer I have heard so far at the new Academy and the first one where I could actually the hear the girls screaming!
A pretty simple stage set up in regards to decorations, the same couldn’t be said about the instruments with a 5-keyboard set-up and the drums encased in a Pyrex cage. With a smile plastered on his face and sporting a black beanie hat Ville Valo set off straight into ‘Like St Valentine’ off their latest album, with the entire crowd singing and with numerous objects being thrown onto the stage, predominately women’s underwear by the look of things you could immediately tell they were here to have a good time. Reading from what looked like a book of poetry that was thrown onto the stage Ville had the crowd eating out of his hand with his very sexy British accent wooing the women with his sultry tones, the only problem was I couldn’t understand a word he was saying which was true for the entire evening, which was a shame because the odd things I did catch sounded pretty interesting, I swear I heard ‘Penguin’ at one point.
Playing a varied set HIM mixed in the old with the new but it was the older songs that went down the best with crowd, ‘Wings of a Butterfly’ and ‘Heartkiller ‘were especially good and the crowd who sung along to every word helped out Ville’s vocals, which were a bit patchy at times. The crowd were not as familiar with the new material which has to be said has a much poppier edge compared to the older stuff, it seemed as though they waiting patiently while songs like ‘Katherine’ were played in preparation to sing every word to songs like ‘Buried Alive by Love’ which in its own right went down an absolute storm.
Their encore consisted of 3 songs Sacrament; Love the Hardest Way and finally The Funeral of Hearts. What a way to end a show, with the intro done Ville opened his mouth to sing the first word but the crowd beat him to it singing the words right back at him. Stopping the song twice due to apparent ‘issues’ with the Hi-hat Ville commandeered his band perfectly bringing them right back to the note were the left off. Say what you like about him but you’d be hard pressed to find a more charismatic front man and although his vocals seemed strained at some points he always knew he could rely on his army of fans to be right there behind him, singing every word.
Review – Hannah Sebestjanowicz
Photos – Andy Watson