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Live Review : HIM / Caspian – Koko, London – 01/11/13

HIM rise above and flourish as a force to be truly reckoned with, at their second sold out night at the KOKO! Find out what we made of it here.

Artist : HIM
Support : Caspian
Venue : Koko, London
Date : 01/11/13

I must confess, I had my reservations about tonights festivities. The last time that I saw HIM was back at the Apollo back in 2004 on a Halloween night (at least I think it was that year). I was really heavily in to them at the time, but of course over the years discovering new music and introduced to new musical sub-cultures, you tend to forget a little about what you loved, and sometimes need to go back and retrace your roots. Tonight was going to be one of those nights where of course there would be a lot of sentimental nostalgia value, but also to prove to myself that HIM are just as important as they ever have been.

But first of all are post-rock titans Caspian. Unfortunately due to heavy traffic (once again), we missed the majority of their set, which greatly upset me personally. But got there just in time to catch at least a couple of songs. From what we were witnessing, Caspian sound absolutely amazing. Sheer overwhelmingly amazing. Even though I missed a good portion of their set, I was looking around at the audience members… some of them had their jaws on the floor in amazement. So I took it upon myself to see what people thought of Caspian, to which pretty much everyone replied along the lines of; “Did not expect that, but that was just brilliant!“.
Fortunately Caspian will be back in January with Defeater, so it looks like there shall be a part two in witnessing the glory of these chaps!

 

But looking around, you can tell that this audience is passionate and as dedicated to HIM as they ever have been. There are a handful of people who are still dressed like they would have been back in 2003/04, all in black, goth-romantic attire. it is quite warming in a way, because they are not just here to mope in their own misery, they are here with a smile on their face and to have a great time. Even looking around, there are sections of people who ten years ago would have looked out of place at a gig like this, or would have slated HIM (some ladies and guys in what would stereotypically deemed as ‘chav’ attire), but they seemed to know a LOT of the words to most of the songs! If you ask me, that is cool as hell.

HIM arrive on stage, and they look absolutely glorious. As fresh faced and as clean as ever, Ville Valo at the height of his sobriety looks great and sounds as brilliant as he ever has done. Years ago, their live performances were very hit or miss, but tonight is exceptional. Promoting their new self-released album ‘Tears On Tape’, this is a brand new chapter for the band who are now without a permanent record deal and with enough power to handle everything themselves. They have established themselves as not just a great band, but a solid brand who are stable and powerful enough to handle their own fights.

 

Their new material sounds absolutely brilliant. Opening track ‘All Lips Go Blue’, sounds incredible. A haunting and powerful introduction to kick off proceedings, before launching in to ‘Buried Alive By Love’ and ‘Rip Off The Wings Of A Butterfly’. Miko Lindstrom looks like a disciple of rock god royalty, tight as ever and adding a touch of improvisation with his excellent guitar skills, this guy is a truly underrated riffer, and deserves credit where it is needed. In fact everyone in the band is on top form tonight. The stage setup is pretty lush as well, with some great lighting effects, which adds to the dark and brooding atmosphere of the show.
Further throughout the set, they continue to play such classics as ‘Join Me In Death’, ‘Soul On Fire‘, and Chris Isaak cover ‘Wicked Game’. the band eventually come back on after an almost banshee like response for them to come back onstage for an encore.
They come back on and finish up with the songs ‘Hearts At War’, ‘Sleepwalking Past Hope’, and ‘Kiss The Void’.

 

It truly is a wonderful and charming night on all levels, and personally for me it was so endearing to actually see a band that has gone through so many trials and tribulations rise up and shine far brighter than they ever have done before. They are no longer the ‘hype’ band, they are an established, pure, and extremely talented bunch of songwriters and musicians, who deserve far more credit than you realise. Tonight was sublime, and it is truly heart-warming to know and witness just how brilliant HIM have flourished in to, without losing any of their dedicated fanbase. An absolute joy of a night!

Score : 8/10

Review : James Paul Matthews
Photography : Andrew Pepin

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