HIM Concert Review

Finnish pop-rock sensation HIM play good concert despite venue almost sabotaging the experience

Date: August 5, 2015
Location: Warsaw, Poland
Venue:  Stodola Club
Reviewer: Fat Peter

A concert should really be about the band. This however does not always apply. Rarely factors other than the band’s performance enhance the gig attendee’s experience. The other side of the coin is that there are many more factors which may ruin a concert of your favorite artists, even if they go out of themselves to deliver. And a majority of that depends on the venue. HIM (which stands for His Infernal Majesty) is a Finnish rock band, who started in  the mid-90s, and got significantly more popular in the mid-2000s in Europe and USA (this due to the support of Bam Margera, of Jackass fame — by far, not one of my favorite artists). They are a well establish pop-rock act who have two things going for them. One is that they seem to age well, moving away from the pop-goth vibe they used to woo the crowds in their pop-heyday into more Sabbath-like territories, in which vocalist Ville Vallo‘s deep vocal delivery fits well. Two is that they definitely crafted their unique sound, a sometimes dark and heavy, sometimes more goth-mellow rock, with a killer vocalist who can go from deep baritones to high pitched screams. A good thing also is that they seem a real band, rather than a revolving door kind of enterprise of consistently changing musicians. |

I had heard that apart from being pretty static on stage, they actually give out a good musical performance. This however was shot down by a venue, which was really horribly prepared. Stodola (eng. Barn) club is a very old — legendary in some circles — rock club in Warsaw, Poland. Its history dates back to the old communist days of the early ’70s. In some ways, the technology of air circulation and acoustics also date back to these times, which in the case of Polish venues, do not always sound very well. The big plus of this club — if any of the readers might ever have a chance to visit — is its colorful wall design, and the fact that there are never any overpriced (and often half empty) golden circle/VIP sections kind of thing. The bad — even very bad — features of the club are the acoustics which really suck and the air circulation, especially during hot summer evenings, is almost non-existent. Apparently, despite these two negative factors, a group can still put on a very decent performance.

HIM did well. They were on spot most of the time, however the lower tones coming from their amplifiers were mostly killed off by the bad/dated sound system. Vallo also had problems during the group’s performance as some of his tones could not come off well due to sound technology. That was my impression and this was not the first time that sound quality was a major issue in this venue so I do not believe that this was merely a coincidence. The place was full and it started to catch heat very soon. I saw some people leaving the main room during the performance all wet and sweaty cursing out the fact that they felt like they were in an oven. It is at least good that there were two exits at both sides of the main room, so the escape was pretty easy, once you got through the crowd.

Coming back to the performance, the band was stellar, but with no real highlights. Vallo clearly looked a bit miffed by the sound quality and the heat, but the band soldiered on, and even interacted with the crowd.  They played all their hits, some new songs and closed out with an encore in the form of a cover of Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell.”

All in all, I wish I could write something good about this performance, because the band stood up to adversity, and delivered. But I feel it is more significant to point out — as this was my first time in a long time at the Stodola Club — and I can say it very clearly: an unprepared club can really wreck your concert experience. And that is even if you love the band, and the band gives it back in the form of a good performance. There is a reason why rock promoters don’t book gigs inside microwave ovens or sauna places with bad acoustics. It is too bad some club owners are not fully aware of that.

HIM’s setlist:
01. Buried Alive By Love
02. Poison Girl
03. The Kiss of Dawn
04. Pretending
05. Into the Night
06. Killing Loneliness
07. Scared to Death
08. Your Sweet Six Six Six
09. Join Me in Death
10. Bleed Well
11. In Joy and Sorrow
12. All Lips Go Blue
13. The Sacrament
14. Rip Out The Wings Of A Butterfly
15. Gone With The Sin
16. Wicked Game (Chris Isak cover)
17. Heartkiller
18. Heartache Every Moment
19. Tears on Tape
20. Right Here in My Arms
21. The Funeral of Hearts
22. When Love and Death Embrace
23. Rebel Yell (Billy Idol cover)