For the longest time, Finnish rock band, H.I.M were an underground sensation and barely known outside of their homeland. It was in the early ‘00s when they were championed by Jackass star, Bam Margera that they really gained attention, and their 2003 album, Love Metal, became one of the biggest selling albums of that year. It has now reached the sad point that H.I.M must close the door on more than two decades of romance, taking to the stage in London for the very last time as part of their farewell tour.
As the giant Heartagram that adorns the stage is plunged into darkness – apart from the sea of mobile phones that people insist on watching most of the show through – the cheers and applause that great H.I.M are deafening. They waste no time by launching straight into Buried Alive By Love, and despite a few sound issues with the drums, it still sounds as good as it did nearly 15 years ago. From here on out, it purely is just hit after hit. Rip Out The Wings of a Butterfly, The Sacrament, Your Sweet Six Six Six and Heartache Every Moment all bring out huge singalongs, with many of their faithful arm in arm, and more than a few tears were shed.
As always, vocalist Ville Valo is the centre of attention, which has much been the case through the years. He doesn’t miss a beat over the note perfect playing of the band behind him, and the extra adlibs, screams, and falsetto howls make for a stirring live performance. It gives Soul On Fire the extra kick it needs, and when he croons his way through their beloved cover of the Chris Isaak classic, Wicked Game, it is impossible not to be transfixed on the stage.
H.I.M cover every corner of their back catalogue across their 20-song set tonight, although it is weighted towards their first five albums. Despite this being the final run for the band, they seem genuinely pleased to be on stage reliving some of their earlier work, even going back as far as Stigmata Diaboli. As their time draws to a close after more than an hour and half on stage, Right Here In My Arms sounds majestic for the final time, and naturally, they bring the house down with Funeral of Hearts. After a brief reprieve, then band storm through their encore with Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell, which makes for a strange ending, but leaves a lasting impression as the final notes ring out into the cold London air.
They may have gone from being a cult band to global megastars, and then somehow back again, but their dedicated following has remained with them the whole time. They probably could have filled Wembley Arena for this shows, but in the somewhat intimate confines of The Roundhouse, it provides a fitting farewell for one of the most beloved bands in modern rock music.
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