H.I.M. has returned to the States for a short tour that once again brought them to New York City for two nights out of the 14 dates. This time around the venue would be larger as well as the opening acts being a litte more known to a wider public. Monster Magnet would be on hand as well as Melissa Auf De Maur. Each one of these performers an interesting act which made the ticket price a good deal. The last time H.I.M. played the States the NYC Venue was the Bowery Ballroom where about 500 people got to see them in a very intimate venue. Now this would be doubled by Irving Plaza and both shows were completely sold out. Sea of Tranquility's Ken Pierce was on hand and gives his full report of the festivities.
The band was in top form this evening and they cruised through their songs. Ville does a smart thing by telling people the name of the track performed. Given that H.I.M. music has only become available in the USA recently, I think this is a smart move to do as it will generate extra interest in more of their material. While the band sounded great and Ville's voice was in good form, I did find the vocal mix on his mic to be a tad low. It made it difficult to understand and hear him sometimes. Ville clearly does not follow a set script in his banter with the audience as he purely seems to talk what is on his mind. Among the funny comments was when he dedicated a song to the guys in the audience, all 13 of them. The Sunday evening show was definitely more on the female side and that is always fine by this reporter.
As I have listed below, the band seemed to concentrate on the hits package "And Love Said No". I thought this was great as the CD is guaranteed to hold a few of everyones favorite numbers. In particular, some memorable moments were during "Join Me In Death" when the audience helped out in the end in particular while Ville pointed the mic to them. Quite powerful to hear the almost 1200 voices singing in unison shouting "This Life Aint Worth Living!!". While I enjoyed the performance overall, I did have a couple of minor critiques on it. Towards the end of the set when the band played "In Joy And Sorrow", there was far too much wasted banter time. Ville talked and talked and then made each member of the band scream at the top of their lungs. Then he brought out some people he knows and had them do the same thing. Now, this went on for 15 minutes and totally ruined the momentum of the evening if you ask me. In this time they could have played at least two more numbers which the audience in most cases would have preferred. No one in my vicinity enjoyed this portion of the show.
2nd Night Highlights: I was lucky enough to be able to attend both nights of these shows and it was worth my doing so. Auf De Maur played what seemed to be a couple of different numbers this time around and was a little heavier. I might have to look more into them. Monster Magnet was again tight, but did the exact same set as the previous night. Even the introduction at the beginning by Wyndorf the singer who was tossing cigarettes into the crowd in order to assist in the corruption of the youth was the same. However, they do rock. Wyndorf did bring on a dancing girl who did her thing during "Space Lord". Interesting and fun. I hope to see a full Magnet set sometime soon as their music really rocks in a very 70's sorta way.
H.I.M. however would be a different and far more amusing experience this time. The evening started off just as the night before, but one sure could see that Ville Vallo was drinking far too much this time. I figure he got about half way into the set before the silly drunken antics were taking place. His speesh wush shlerred (I mean his speech was slurred) and he told the audience he was drunk. He would open a beer and sip it deep, then toss it behind him. Clearly driving the poor stage hand of theirs crazy as he was spending spent a lot of time doing beer cleanup. Then he would drink from what appeared to be Jaegermeister bottle (never a smart mix in my opinion). At one point he was singing the song while laying down on the stage, and then at another he disappeared for at least 10 minutes (to get sick I imagine) while the band just looked at one another and jammed. From my vantage point upstairs it seemed as though Mige (bass) was very annoyed at this. There was a funny audience participation sequence when Ville would toss his microphone into the crowd and the roadie would grab it and put it back on stage. When Ville saw it, he tossed it back. This nonsense happened a couple of times before he let some girl sing for far too long. Sorry, not everyone can sing and this was more shouting than trying to help. The set remained pretty much the same until the very end when Ville seemed to be adamant about a particular song. So "In Joy And Sorrow" was not played and instead "Funeral Of Hearts" was performed, with the set ending with "Soul On Fire". As a matter of fact Ville changed "Funeral Of Hearts" as the band started it, and this did not look to go over well on Mige's face.
As a fan of the band I hope that these kind of antics do not become commonplace. The signing to Sire Records for them and the desire to break bigger in the US can easily be compromised if the fans get the impression that they will be cheated at live shows. I was told that the antics of this evening had made the Finnish newspapers and they were very upset at Ville for it. Sadly this was also the show that a New York newspaper attended and destroyed the band as a result.
Many thanks to Becky Huskins for her excellent photos that she allowed me to use.
Buried Alive By Love
Your Sweet 666
Right Here In My Arms
Heartache Every Moment
Its All Tears
Join Me In Death
Fortress Of Tears
Lose You Tonight
Love Said No
In Joy And Sorrow
Soul On Fire
Monster Magnet Set:
Unbroken (Hotel Baby)