GIG REVIEW: A Farewell To HIM Live at Roundhouse, London
Earlier this year HIM announced their final tour before disbanding. A bittersweet feeling loomed upon me knowing this would be the first and last time I ever see the band. After 26 successful years of gothic rock it was time to bid the Finnish boys farewell. And what better way to end the UK leg of the tour Bang & Whimper Tour than in the prestigious Roundhouse, London? The day finally arrived- 19th December marked the second and final London show. Exclusive support provided by special guests Daxx & Roxane
Swiss quartet Daxx & Roxane were tonight’s special guests who kicked things off fast with a hard and heavy set. Eager HIM fans arrived early to the venue which was a great turn out for a support act as they got to play to a wider audience. It was a thrilling performance of screeching guitars along with singer and bass player Cedric Pfister’s soaring vocals proved to be a crowdpleaser always stamped some rhythm into the crowd. The beefy, bouncy riffs were catchy and this set the mood for the evening with lead guitarist Cal Wymann’s intense solos throughout, especially during “Ticket to Rock” that had us gripped with his performance. This was a real stand-out moment for me and the crowd cheering came naturally. The unashamedly short and sleazy set rocked the crowd which had them screaming for more.
Following a 30 minute change over during which the energy was electric, the anticipation grew stronger as we waited for the arrival of the one and only HIM hailing from Finland with heart throb Ville Valo fronting the band. As the lights dimmed and the iconic Heartagram logo as the backdrop appeared, the cheering crowd turned into an eerie silence as the band entered the stage to the backing track “Bye Bye Love” (The Everly Brothers) and dived straight into “Buried Alive By Love.” The energy in the room reached an unrecognizable level of hysteria three songs in making “Your Sweet Six Six Six” virtually inaudible by the volume of cheering and clapping. This all seemed a little rushed as they fiercely ploughed through the songs with no interaction.
Valo was entertaining, and his witty charm and charisma that fans hold in high esteem was riled when he remarked he’s “glad this is all over.” Nevertheless, fans relished in his melancholic vocals and lyrics as he continued with the classic “Rip Out The Wings of a Butterfly.” Their atmospheric set was full of all the usual staples you would expect to hear from the band like “Gone with the Sin” and “Heartkiller,” but “Butterfly” is special to me- it’s the catchy riff from the start and throughout. This also proved to be a favourite among the crowd as they became even more amplified. Fans were treated to the classic old time hit “Wicked Game” (Chris Isaak) mid-set. Axeman Mikko Lindstrom meticulously threw out a combination of distorted riffs and solos letting the crowd know that HIM has four other members. There was not a note out of place during this extended version where keyboardist Janne Puurtinen and bass player Mikko Paananen each took center stage demonstrating their musical talent.
Valo’s luxuriantly deep vocals were impeccable even though he can no longer reach high notes like he used to back in the early days notably in “Funeral of Hearts.” However, his overall performance came naturally and put all his effort into the fantastic set. The dark and moody stage production created a mystique with a stunning colourful light show and strobe lights which kept the band hidden behind the depths of smoke and shrouded in darkness perfectly encapsulated the mood. The joyous celebrations continued as fans sang louder than Valo during “Right Here In My Arms.” In fact every song was a mass sing-a-long, the crowd was in their element as they roared to life with Valo taking a step back to appreciate our appreciation. The powerful, fast paced set ended with two incredible encore songs with Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” which saw the audience scream the lyrics. It was a standing ovation and the energy was power-driven setting destruction alight! Realizing the end was here sadness kicked in during the final encore song “When Love and Death Embrace.” Celebrations turned into an emotional affair realizing this IS the end of HIM.
Overall, this truly was an unforgettable night of celebrations and tonight London buried HIM. Daxx & Roxane can testify to their talents with their memorable set and moving sound. Watch this space! Headliner’s HIM constantly delivered with perfection and created a captivating atmosphere which was incomparable. Each track was met with a thunderous reception only raising their stature. The Bang & Whimper Tour has sold out worldwide and they’ll be playing a final few dates in Finland at the end of December, so catch them in a town near you.