Live Review: HIM - Roundhouse, London 19/12/2017
Arguably Finland's biggest rock band to date, HIM brought their 26 year career to a humble end by selling out 2 nights as London's Roundhouse.
Before the “Love Metal” band took to the stage the crowd were treated to “Bye Bye Love” by The Everly Brothers airing over the speakers, it's lyrics well suited for the evening;
“Bye bye love. Bye bye happiness. Hello loneliness. I think I'm gonna cry”.
Emerging from the shadows, frontman Valo and the band delved straight into the energetic “Buried Alive By Love”, a great opener that instantly got the whole room singing along.
In true Finnish form and in contrast to the crowd, the band never portrayed much emotion, despite this being their final UK show, at times it felt like they were just going through the paces. That being said however, the crowd were very loud and very vocal, singing along to practically every song and throwing numerous items on stage.
The first half of the night had some of my favourite tracks, “The Sacrament”, “Tears on Tape” and “Wings of a Butterfly”, the latter paving the way to showcase Lindström's brilliance on guitar while “The Sacrament” will always be a long standing favourite of mine because of the focus on the piano arrangement.
Halfway through the night, HIM brought out the big guns with their ever popular rendition of the Chris Isaac classic “Wicked Game”. This was perhaps the song that brought the band into the mainstream and there is no denying that this is a song that you can't help but fall in love with. With the iconic Heartagram proudly lit up at the back of stage, Valo stakes centre stage leaning into the crowd singing beautifully to the delight of the front row. Halfway through the encore worthy 7.5 minute song (I videoed the whole thing) Valo vacates the stage while Lindström is left to entertain the crowd with a glorious guitar solo. A nice touch to just remind everyone that the band consists of more than just Ville Valo.
So with the fan favourite out of the way the latter half of the night lost some momentum. I had been a big fan in my younger years having seen them in 2003 and 2006, and I still hold a torch for them to this day, but a number of their songs can end up blending into one and I found myself losing focus at time. That was until the screams erupted from the girls behind me as the memorable piano notes of “Join Me In Death” began. This song, along with a few others during the night, really showcased Valo's vocal performance, something that does not always come over during their live material. Valo can go from a real deep guttural roars to euphoric high pitched screams, I was actually in awe.
Despite the lacklustre show of emotion from the band (which I can forgive because they're Finnish), they were polished and engaging, they still put on a fantastic show. They finished of the set with more crowd favourites “Right Here in my Arms” and “The Funeral of Hearts” which paved way to another beautiful mass sing along before going into the encore with another old classic, a cover of the anarchic “Rebel Yell” by Billy Idol. A great and fitting track to go out on, with it's heavy and raw vocals and more epic guitar riffs. But just when you thought that was your lot they brought the night to a close with a more gentle ballad, “When Love and Death Embrace”, which no doubt brought a few tears into peoples eyes, people were up on shoulders and roses were being swayed in the air. It was a beautiful song to end on and it was an honour to be able to capture their final show. They now travel to their homeland of Finland where they will see out the year with a handful of shows before Valo can hang up the black suit and beanie hat.
A big thank you for the past 26 years guys and may your future bring you joy and fulfilment.
Photography and Review by Rachel Prew