H.I.M returned to New York City on Friday to play Irving Plaza in Union Square. They blitzed through a set of fourteen main songs and two encore tracks and dazzled the audience with their personal brand of unassuming stage personas and stellar musicianship.
To begin with, Irving Plaza is one of my favorite venues in New York City. It's small enough that any place provides an awesome view of the stage but big enough to feel like you're at an actual concert (you know, instead of those DIY venues across the bridge in Brooklyn). Couple that with a band that's as comfortable in a stadium as it is in a small venue and you have a pretty decent concert ahead of you.
The band's opener, Anathema, was a bit of an underwhelming experience (I dubbed them "stoner music for the dead") but whatever energy they lacked HIM more than made up for when they took the stage.
With the instrumental track "Lucifer's Chorale" chiming the background, the band, as unassuming as ever, took the stage, waving to the crowd and jumping right into "Buried Alive by Love". The rest of the night followed in the same manner, with Ville Valo (I really hope you know he's the singer) breaking out into endearing ramblings and sharing smiles and jokes with bandmates Linde, Mige, Gas Lipstick and Emerson Burton.
The ease the band has with each other and the fact that they just so obviously love being on stage with one another, no matter the venue, are some of the reasons why I love seeing this band live. It's always nice to see a band genuinely and openly loving to perform. It would be easy for HIM to take on stage personas and act brooding and dark on the stage, but they don't. They seem like just a bunch of guys having a good time who just happen to play dark, but beautiful, music. It's a weird dichotomy but it works because it is so obviously real. They are who they are and the fans can't fault them for that. It's also probably why they've been able to do this for so long, no matter the trials they face; lesser bands and bands who take themselves more seriously probably would have buckled by now (yes, I'm looking at you My Chem; the North never forgets).
With the fluidity that only bands that have been together for a long time, HIM put together a set list of old favorites and new crowd pleasers. They ended their main set with "Funeral of Hearts." HIM came back to chants of "two more songs" (it was "one more song" but then a roadie walked across the stage and held up two fingers and the crowd changed its chant) and dove right into "Into the Night" and closed it up with a song that Ville dedicated to bassist "Mige", "When Love and Death Embrace" (this was the first time I've seen this song played live and it was amazing and breathtaking and someone take me back to that moment).
All in all, it was an amazing night that only HIM could deliver.
Intro: Lucifer's Chorale
1. Buried Alive By Life
2. Rip Out the Wings of a Butterfly
3. Right Here in My Arms
4. The Kiss of Dawn
5. All Lips Go Blue
6. Join Me in Death
7. Your Sweet Six Six Six (AN: btw. this was also the first time I've heard this played live and it was AMAZING considering it was the first song I ever heard by them when I was 11)
8. Passion's Killing Floor
9. Soul on Fire
10. Wicked Game
11. Tears on Tape
12. Poison Girl
13. For You (AN: another first for me yet this was the third time I've seen them)
14. The Funeral of Hearts
15. Into the Night
16. When Love and Death Embrace
Outro: Kiss the Void