Live Review: HIM — The Wiltern, Los Angeles
Sat, 24 Apr 2010 19:14:17
Nobody rocks like HIM these days.
It's sad but true. Few bands can dive headfirst into heartache and come out of it sounding evil. HIM wield that unsavory, ungodly and undeniable power. Yes, it's the time honored tradition of being heavy enough for the boys in the crowd and heart-y enough for the girls, yet no one really possesses that dynamic anymore. HIM bubbles over with it—right down to their Heartagram logo.
A sold out Wiltern last night completely proved the band's prowess. Packed to the brim with fellas in Down shirts and lovelorn goth hotties, the theater came to life, undulating with an undead energy over the course of HIM's flawless, fiery and furious set. HIM's brilliance came through in their tight execution. The band wrap a sensitive core a la Depeche Mode with a raw Guns N' Roses-style energy for rock music that's not just refreshing, it's genuinely revitalizing on stage. HIM kicked off the show with "Like St. Valentine" from their latest offering—Screamworks: Love In Theory and Practice. The song seesawed between blistering brash riffwork and Ville Valo's one-of-a-kind crooning. It was the perfect sparkplug for the explosive showing to follow.
Watching HIM is a big deal in L.A., because barely any L.A. bands conjure the city's rock essence anymore. Nevertheless, the Finnish rockers often sound like they could've come right off the Sunset Strip circa 1987, with a much more chic fashion sense though. Donning a gray blazer and beanie, Ville held the chorus for "Right Here In My Arms" with care, seamlessly carrying the hook while allowing the screaming crowd to take it off into oblivion. Ville was all smiles as he clenched the mic, propelled by pristine Munsters-style keyboards and a guttural guitar crunch. "Rip Out the Wings of a Butterfly" launched one of the biggest sing-a-longs of the night early in the set, and Ville and Co. managed to skyrocket into a space between Black Sabbath and The Cure like only they can. New cut "Scared to Death" tempered the sludg-y darkness of "The Kiss of Dawn" with a unique pop elegance. The band mastered both extremes with a rare reverence and understanding of both.
HIM's power was truly evinced in the middle of their worldwide hit, "Join Me In Death." As Ville swayed softly singing, "This life ain't worth living," everyone in attendance automatically began clapping and their voices enveloped even his. He stood back with a wide smirk, reaching that transcendent place that all musicians ascertain to get to on stage.
His sense of humor is just as sharp as his knack for hook. At the end of "Buried Alive By Love," Ville let out a wide-eyed scream. He jested to the crowd, "Ever since I was seven-years-old I never wanted to do anything but that. It does miracles." See, dreams do come true!
Afterwards, he dropped a classic Hellraiser quote, "Angels to some, demons to others." Ville went on smiling, "Words from Pinhead, Mr. Doug Bradley. Without Pinhead we wouldn't be here. He had 'such sights to show us.' This song is dedicated to him!"
"Disarm Me (With Your Loneliness)" resounded with an evil charm Pinhead would more than appreciate. HIM showed us more than those classic sights; they showed us what rock 'n' roll is truly all about.
Where you there? Have you seen HIM before?