Live Review: HIM and Caspian – KOKO, London – 01/11/2013

I can’t imagine that the majority of people seeing His Infernal Majesty tonight are recent fans. From the crowd present, it seems to be made up mostly of people who were around to see their beginnings in 1991 and those who were teenage Goths roughly a decade ago, returning to pay tribute to their teenage obsession. I, and the majority of my friends, were Love Metal obsessed at one point in our lives, and aside from a brief drunken look at their Download 2010 set, have never actually managed to catch HIM live.

Held the day after Halloween, (and having played the night before) with a stage set-up plastered with their Heartagram logo, tonight promises to be a good night for nostalgia.

Openers Caspian are a strange choice, a purely instrumental band who play melodic goth music which sounds similar to Nightwish. It’s pleasant enough, but seems to blend into the background. Hardly the music needed to help get the audience geared up for the main event, though fortunately there’s enthusiasm abound already. (1/5).

Of course HIM are who we’re here for, and they indulge with a ninety minute set which delves into the classics, skips over the filler and manages to cover a career of over 20 years without bogging down the audience.  Iconic front man Ville Valo fulfils expectations in his trademark beanie and gloves combo, choosing to speak little, preferring to let his songs do the talking.

And talk they do, after a slightly dull opening section things kick off with ‘Buried Alive by Love’ at which point it’s clear that HIM show no signs of staleness or tiredness – even after playing two nights at the same venue. Newer songs such as ‘Wings of a Butterfly’ prove equally popular and manage to even get the top tiers of the balcony moving.

HIM know how to cater to their target audience – this isn’t a night of new material, just old classics.  As a result it’s a lot of fun, and the set moves swiftly as Ville swigs beer and plays up to his heartthrob status. Albeit the songs are a bit cheesy, but with titles like ‘Your Sweet Six Six Six’ and ‘Join Me in Death’ that’s to be expected, and HIM are obviously not interested in converting critics, just amusing their fans.  Their well known cover of ‘Wicked Game’ is on point, with Ville truly making the cover his own.

Penultimate song ‘The Funeral of Hearts’ gets the biggest response of the night, drowning out the band with a mass sing-along. This makes final track ‘When Love and Death Embrace’ seem like an anti-climax, but it still manages to end the night in suitably dark fashion. Ever entertaining, with the right mix of morbid and melodramatic, HIM manage to pull off the perfect post-Halloween set. (4/5)

4/5

Words by Jay Sullivan

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