It may feel like an eternity since Finish goth rock icons HIM finally pulled the curtain down, but it has been a mere six years since that farewell tour wrapped up. In the intervening years, a few bands have tried and even come close to filling that gap with melodic and melodramatic pop Metal. However, tonight in London, the main man has finally made his highly anticipated return. Ville Valo (or VV as he likes to stylise it) is taking back the main stage with a brand new album titled Neon Noir and a very generous selection of HIM classics to boot.
London O2 Forum, Kentish Town – 15 March 2023
Words: Kahmel Farahani
Photography: Aggie Anthimidou
Still cutting a stylish and lean figure at 46, Ville strolls on stage in his fitted jacket, suit and cap and is rapturously received by the fans packing the Kentish Town Forum tonight. While Ville himself keeps chat to a minimum and indeed only speaks when introducing his band, it’s easy to let the music do the talking tonight.
Splitting tonight’s set almost evenly between new material and HIM songs creates a seamless flow. Songs like the gothic melancholia of Loveletting and Neon Noir sit comfortably alongside verified anthems like Wings Of A Butterfly and Join me In Death.
If anything, the older songs are given that extra layer of smoothness, musically and vocally. The fans are keen to sing tonight, and that goes for both older material and new songs like Salute The Sanguine.
While the crowd is jam-packed with Valo’s famous Heartagram logo and HIM shirts and posters galore, it feels very much like a crowd hungry for new material and not just nostalgia.
Tonight’s encore starts with Soul On Fire and Salute The Sanguine before HIM classic Poison Girl is given over to the fans to sing for the first half. Ending with the ghostly, mid-tempo grind of Saturnine Saturnalia, the 90 minute set seems to have flown by all to quickly for the fans who don’t stop calling for more.
A fitting end to a gig from an artist who seems to be spreading his wings again – it’s a very welcome return.
Ville Valo – Setlist
Echolocate Your Love
The Funeral of Hearts (HIM cover)
Right Here in My Arms (HIM cover)
Buried Alive by Love (HIM cover)
Wings of a Butterfly (HIM cover)
Heartful of Ghosts
Join Me in Death (HIM cover)
The Kiss of Dawn (HIM cover)
Run Away From the Sun
When Love and Death Embrace (HIM cover)
Soul on Fire (HIM cover)
Salute the Sanguine
Poison Girl (HIM cover)