My Day with HIM: Seeing HIM for the first time…twice

IMG_20140312_120100_708Ville Valo at JBTV studios 2014

Back in 2006, I was supposed to see HIM live. Me and my best friend at the time couldn’t be happier. We had the tickets in our hands, wondering which songs they were going to do, what Ville was going to wear, how he was going to look. A week later HIM canceled. Needless to say I was crushed and it was something I never forgot. The sting of cancellation would follow me to every concert from there on. But all is now forgiven because I got to see these guys twice when they hit Chicago, both at JBTV studios and later at the House of Blues.

The day started at 11:30 in the morning standing in the lobby of JBTV in awe of all the autographed photos of acts who played there previously. There were signed posters from INXS, Dead Sara, Goo Goo Dolls, Dave Matthews Band among others. After getting in the studio and waiting around for about 10 more minutes, the band strolled out and my eyes landed on Ville. Yes, he’s even cuter in person. The guys were in good spirits as they played on. They seemed excited and ready to rip through the set for about 100 people. By the way, Ville is super charming in person. He was looking out over the crowd, smiling the whole time, happy to see people having a good time. I swear, so fucking adorable.

The set was only five songs long, but they were all amazing. They did “Buried Alive by Love,” “Wings of a Butterfly,” “Right Here in my Arms,” “The Kiss of Dawn,” “All Lips go Blue,” and an extra long version of “When Love and Death Embrace.” What really surprised me was how awesome they all sounded live. Linde’s solos were blazing and Mige’s energy was turned way up. The stage was small, but he made sure he covered the entire thing. In between songs he would chat with the crowd. Meanwhile, Ville would ask everyone “Everyone good? Everybody happy? Great!” It’s awesome how all the guys came off as people you want to have a drink with. Also, Ville sounded amazing live. He pulled some intense vocal acrobatics. It reminded me of what a talented singer he is. It’s great how even though the crowd was small, he still gave it his all.

Later, at the sold out House of Blues gig, the energy was still high, but since they opened with the same songs they did at JBTV it was kind weird hearing them again. Either way, they still sounded great. The show really got started for me when the icy riff of “Join Me (In Death)” rang out. The crowd went wild as Ville performed his breathless vocals. Really, the entire setlist was excellent. With the exception of two albums, they did a song from almost all their LPs covering their new stuff with some old favorites. Even though they didn’t play “The Sacrament” like I hoped, I was beside myself when they did “For You” and “Wicked Game.” The first is from their debut and is full of gothic gloom, while the latter is their sexy cover of the Chris Issak classic. They’re both songs I count among my favorites and when I heard the opening riffs, my heart melted.

They also did “Your Sweet Six Six Six,” “Soul on Fire,” which started a hectic circle pit, “Poison Girl,” that got all HIM lovers shrieking with joy, and “Funeral of Hearts.” Just when I thought the band gave it their all earlier, they intensified their performance even more for the main event. Yes, Ville was still just as charming. Something about seeing him smiling across the crowd makes you enjoy the show even more. It’s always great to see an artist enjoy performing. They got the crowd so amped up when they left before the encore that they started chanting “One more song! One more song!” Of course they came back for “Into the Night” and another rendition of the gloomy “When Love and Death Embrace.” HIM really brought their brand of Finnish melancholy to the Windy City, as Ville put it.

I had to wait a long time to finally see the band, but it was worth the wait. I really enjoyed the JBTV performance more just because it was so intimate and personal. But it seems that HIM has really improved as a live band over the years. It didn’t get my blood pumping like some other shows I’ve been to, but it was amazing to see and hear some of my favorite songs I’ve been listening to since high school live. If anything seeing them live reminded me of why I love HIM so much. I hope to see them again when they come back to Chicago to experience the charm of their Finnish melancholy.

Complete setlist:

Buried Alive By Love

Rip Out the Wings of a Butterfly

Right Here in My Arms

The Kiss of Dawn

All Lips Go Blue

Join Me in Death

Your Sweet Six Six Six

Passion’s Killing Floor

Soul on Fire

Wicked Game

Tears on Tape

Poison Girl

For You

The Funeral of Hearts

Encore:

Into the Night

When Love and Death Embrace

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