HIM
DK Gorbunova Moscow,
June 11, 2001

Total decadence! When the TTI staff was walking through the alleys of once-so-crowded approaches to DK Gorbunova that hosted the world's largest CD market mere six months ago I felt as if I was truly going to a gothic party. Thanks to support from MTV, H.I.M has become the most famous gothic-related band in Russia and we were anticipating lots of people at the show. However what I saw was really beyond my expectations. The hall was packed, I mean truly packed, and at least half of the audience were girls aged below 20. Their concentration in front of the stage was overwhelming, it's been quite a while since I saw so many pretty chicks in one place. Of course as soon as Ville Valo & Co hit the stage the audience just exploded. And that's even before the band played a note! You can only imagine how the rest of the show was received. The crowd was screaming and shouting and yelling louder than hell, at least louder than Ville was singing at times. Probably that's because of the sound quality that was rather mediocre for DK Gorbunova. The vocals were drowning in the mix at times, especially when Ville was singing low. However the overall impression from what was going on at the stage was very good. The lights were probably among the best I've seen, the performance was close to perfection and Ville turned to have a very nice voice, not extremely strong but still fitting perfectly to his band's live performance. And the set list was beyond any praises.

The show started with the intro tape of Elvis Presley's "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" (actually its live version when The King bursts into laughter in the middle of the song and can't stop until the end of it) and then H.I.M. played all their hits from both albums they'd released. Chris Isaac's "Wicked Game" was already the second tune, and from that moment on, nothing mattered to the crowd of crazy young girls in front of the stage. Actually, Ville did his best to turn on (I literally mean it) the audience with his sexy movements and the image of a melancholic demon. He was in the centre of the performance and obviously enjoyed the attention that he got from the crowd, not forgetting though to smoke and drink all through the show. It's no wonder that halfway through the set the security had to pull out some half-strangled, half-trampled girls from the first rows to save their lives. And the band played on and on, putting one hit after another and not forgetting to improvise on some of the most famous compositions. How would you like, for example, a medley of "Your Sweet Six Six Six" and "Black Sabbath" (yeah, the classic one), or "Right Here In My Arms" that featured an almost AC/DC-ish introduction? The main set ended with "One Last Time", and the encore featured HIM's biggest hits so far and the ones I was expecting the most - "Gone With The Sin" and "Join Me In Death". However the crowd furiously demanded more, so the band returned once again and performed Billy Idol's "Rebel Yell", the heaviest and the fastest song of the night. The vocals on that one was almost impossible to hear, but that was not needed since everyone knew the song and was either headbanging or singing along. The song again ended with a piece of "Black Sabbath" and after that the band said thanks and left the stage in a roar of screams and applause with another Elvis classic, "Love Me Tender", playing in the speakers.

Even though the show did impress me, I was leaving the hall with sort of mixed feelings. Of course the performance was great, but halfway through the show I caught myself thinking that I actually felt pity for Ville. I have serious doubts that the man has enough inner strength to cope with the fame he is getting. Actually he doesn't have to do anything to be loved, it is enough for him to just stand silent in the middle of the stage to drive the audience crazy. For most of the people in the pit it's not important whether the band is playing good or not, whether Ville is hitting the right notes or what kind of music is performed, what they are interested in is the singer's sex appeal. Besides, the impression that I got was that Ville was stoned right from the start. Don't get me wrong, I love this band and I consider their music truly fresh and exciting, I just don't want to see Mr. Valo becoming the next Axl Rose. I do wish to be mistaken, but only time will tell. Let's wait until H.I.M. return to Moscow some time in the future and see the difference, if any.

-- Maniac

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