Thursday 18th March 2010, O2 Academy, Bournemouth.
Ok, let's start with Dommin who actually were a great support. I admit to knowing nothing about them, but as soon as I get home I am going to look them up on my "proper" computer (I am trying to type this on my mobile in the hotel bed at the minute.) I enjoyed their set so much and I loved their Goth\80's\punky vibe, I think they were an absolutely perfect choice to support HIM and a very clever decision was made in including them, in more ways than just that one, lol! What I mean is that their style and songs complemented both HIM and "Screamworks..", but whilst Dommin were very very good, they still couldnt overshadow HIM. I Absolutely loved their set, especially their version of "I just died in your arms tonight" by Cutting Crew. I loved that song in the 80's but I have to say that I think I prefered Dommin's version. It was good to see that they also seemed to be influenced by the 80's and especially with Kristofer Dommin the lead singer's hair looking remarkably like the hairstyles that were once found on "A Flock Of Seagulls"!
After Dommin left the stage there was a 20-25 Minute "interval" when they were setting up the stage for HIM.
Wow, I don't really know where to start. First of all I was so lucky in where I was seated. I was up in the Gallery, in a little area that had been sectioned off away from the main crowd on the right hand side of the stage, or the left if you were in the crowd looking at the stage. There was a little low wall where there were some stairs that led down to a walkway where the security guards were standing, and I was in the corner between that and the glass partition of the Gallery railing. So there I was literally about 15 feet away from HIM, just slightly up on their right, rocking away in my Trilby hat and purple top and with no-one standing in front of me. Lucky, lucky me. The Atmosphere in the O2 was electric, seriously the place just rocked and not a bad thing happened all night, on the whole the crowd were really pleasant and I was pleased to see several "older" people there, there was even a 60-70 year old grannie down in the main audience completely rocking out! If you discount the night that my son was born, I think I might well have had the best night of my life! Before I say anything else I would like to say that the staff at the O2 Bournemouth treated me really really well. From Ollie the Daytime Box Office Manager to Barny and the Security Guy who took me through the crowds to the sectioned off area. I am so grateful for everything you did, I was in a lot of pain on Thursday night and I wasn't even sure that I was going to make it to the concert in the first place. I know that you had to help me, but honestly if it hadnt been for your assistance I dont think I would have been able to stay past the first half an hour or so. I definitely wouldnt have got to see Ville and the Guys.
Right, now I have got that out of the way - on to the rest of it: I am happy to report that HIM definitely don't look like trolls! For those who have read this blog before you might well remember that I didn't even know what they looked like before the concert, so I was more than a little relieved when 5 regular, good looking guys walked on stage! It's so strange, I suppose you could say that they are not what would "normally" be considered as extremely handsome, but, I watched them all and every one of them has a difficult to categorise, attractive quality that would set them apart in a crowd. At least on the night Gas was open and exhuberant, in that moment he was just enjoying where he was, completely tub-thumping, although I think it would be unwise to dismiss him as being nothing more than that. I could see that Mige is the type of person who would have a wicked sense of humour, but as Phillip Seymour Hoffman once said, a jovial personality can often be used to hide a troubled heart or past, so perhaps there is something more to him than just his warm personality. Apparently according to those around me he had cut his hair and some prefered it long, but I have to say that although I usually prefer long hair on men I like it the length it is. Linde was quiet, but his heart and soul shone through his riffs. I was told that they also shine through alcohol, lol. Burton, I think may be the "dark horse"! My grandma played the piano, and I learned to play when I was very young although I don't think I could play a note now, but still I know that the heart of a pianist is a dark and strange place indeed, lol! On the "face" of things he barely smiled, and so when I then really watched his expressions the level of emotion, enjoyment and dedication was quite unexpected. And Ville, well what can I say? I think this man is not quite all he seems, there is a depth and a steely strength that is easy to miss if you get caught up in the whole "Androgynous Fragility" thing. Someone at the concert told me that Ville used to wear lots of makeup and the whole "fragile" and "broken - hearted" image was actively promoted. After all most people who are involved with the "Goth" scene in some way will know that in this group of people at least, sex is not always what sells. What is guaranteed to sell is heartbreak. Yet this demeanour is not at all entirely calculated. Just listening to his songs, and watching him on stage, it seems that Ville is an unusual mix of someone who has that steely determination, and who knows the type of people that he his playing to exceptionally well, but also he seems to be someone who can at times be extremely fragile, who has undoubtedly felt that heartbreak many times over, and who has an extraordinary talent, unlike any other, for being able to express the complex emotions he feels, through beautiful lyrics which are ethereal and unashamedly poetic. I was also told that in interviews Ville is extremely open and honest, which is considered to be one of his most endearing qualities. I have not read any interviews with him, but, I think I would have to disagree with this. If you read his lyrics, as well as listen to them it seems to me that this man may have to be a little more guarded than that. Openly reading his lyrics and reading between the lines of them, and now watching him on stage especially in the "quiet" moments between songs, this seems to be a man who has been badly hurt in the past, not just by love, or also the lack of it, but also by different aspects of life and humanity in general. There is a vulnerability to him that seems to be at complete odds with the strength he has. It's so funny; my mother has always told me that I have the strength to do anything I want, but I have never had enough faith in myself to completely believe her, I wonder if it is the same for Ville? He is also widely considered to be intelligent. Perhaps then, Ville has learned over the years how to manage errant journalists armed with invasive questions. Maybe he tells them some small truthful things, thereby "drip feeding" interviewers and fans alike some correct information about himself, that really doesnt doesn't give away too much of a clue about how he really feels sometimes, but maybe he also includes some, how shall I say this - "misdirections", allowing the interviewer to go away happy, for the fans to think that they have learned something "personal" about their idol, and for Ville's personal life to stay just that - personal. Judging by the screaming crowds on the night I cant say I blame him at all if this is what he does.
When Ville walked onto that stage he reminded me of a "Lord Byron" figure, which other fans told me has been widely noted in the past. A modern day plethora of Byron, Shelley, Beaudelaire, Poe, all mixed with Bolan, Morrison, Hendrix, Cat Stevens, Iommi, Thunders, Elvis, Iggy, even a little Crosby and Young etc etc, and with more than a little nod towards Cash and Osbourne! This then seems to be a man who is more than complex in his apparent quest for simplicity, and one who is so determined to find an emotional and psychological understanding, that he dares to look for it in people and places where even angels wouldn't even dare to tread. And friends, that is not the mark of a weak man.
As for the group as a whole, it is apparent that they are friends first and foremost, but as it is with most things in life, there is more to this group than that. Just listening to the fans at the concert, it seemed that quite a few of them thought that Ville is the sum total of the group, that without him, 'HIM' would be nothing. Certainly I can see why he is the frontman, he has a focal quality that is hard not to see, and again he has that steely determination you need to drive a group of easy going people like this forward. But I think those fans really do need to tear their gaze away from Ville for a second and really look at the guys standing (or in Gas's case - sitting) around him, because in all of them are the various qualities that make 'HIM' work as a group. Gas is a very good drummer, and has the exhuberance and the apparent love of metal that a group like HIM needs, Mige is an incredible base player and has the hippy easy going element, Linde is one of the best and most unsung lead guitarists around today, and also seemingly has the "quiet but alcoholic" side covered lol, Burton is an extraordinary pianist, just a phenomenal talent, and again it would seem that he quietly shares Villes dark heart in his own way, and Ville has all of the qualities that a "frontman" and lyricist needs and the determination and drive it takes to continually push HIM forward. Although Ville is the lyricist and writes all the songs, plus the original music, the muscial contribution of the other guys must always of course be factored into the equation and never, ever overlooked. Just listen to the difference between "Beaudelaire in Braille" and "Screamworks....". "B.I.B" is Ville, through and through, but "Screamworks...." is HIM, and I think it was a very clever and good idea to include both C.D's in the one "Limited Edition" package, because for those who have heard both, now the muscial contribution of the band as a whole can surely never be discounted.
Secondly I loved the fact that the concert started with "Dressed in Black" by the Shangri-La's being played over the sound system, as I really like their songs and music. They were one of the first successful all - female groups at a time when it wasn't always possible for all-female anythings to be successful. Their lyrics were often very dark and perhaps a little ahead of their time, so I often think that maybe they were the first "Goth Girls"! I also feel that as their music has not only endured the test of time, but as it also influences people like Amy Winehouse and is now being played as an opener for a HIM concert, this is proof of how good they really were. Thank you for choosing the Shangri-La's guys, I really enjoyed them as an "opener" Here is the rest of HIM's set list for the evening:
Main Set List:
OPENER: Dressed in Black, by the Shangri-La's, then:
1). Like St. Valentine, 2). Right Here In My Arms, 3). Rip Out The Wings Of A Butterfly, 4). Heartkiller, 5). Join Me In Death, 6). The Kiss Of Dawn, 7). Katherine Wheel, 8). Poison Girl, 9). Buried Alive By Love, 10). Disarm Me (With Your Loneliness), 11). Your Sweet 666, 12). Wicked Game, 13). Scared To Death, 14). When Love And Death Embrace,
Then the Encore:
15). The Sacrament, 16). Love, The Hardest Way, 17). The Funeral Of Hearts.
Do you know what? They played 17 songs and the time flew by. I really could have sat there and listened to another 17 songs so happily, as it seemed like the concert felt too short, but with that amount of songs of course it wasn't, and it would have been selfish to ask for more. There were a couple of minor technical glitches with the sound at the very beginning of the concert, but after they were ironed out everything went smoothly. Ville joked around a fair bit and the lady sitting next to me (Hi Marianne, lol) told me that this is what they have always been like. Not that you will ever read this Ville but I saw the motion you made to Gas with your hands, and I am glad that you liked my top, cheeky man lol! There was a young girl in the front who made a comment to Ville about half way through, which I can only guess was about having sex with him. I couldn't properly make out what she said, as I had my earplugs in (tinnitus since I was 15), but it caused Ville to be very funny and reply telling her "let me see your I.D." Again she said something that I couldn't make out over the screaming girlies, but again Ville replied saying "Yeah but up here on stage? What you are asking me to do is illegal!" lol, funny guy. It must be strange to him when a 16 year old girl is telling him that she wants to have sex with him, the man is in his 30's after all, and bless them but the younger girlies wont yet know enough of the world, or older men to be able to see that. All they know is that there are hormones raging unrestricted around their bodies and that there is a decent looking guy up there on stage who is famous. It was the strangest thing, actually and a perfect example of what I have just said: One young girlie threw a pink "My Little Pony" style stuffed toy unicorn on stage for Ville, but it was dressed in a bondage vampire outfit! Seriously, a "Gimp" Unicorn, and dont get me wrong, it totally appealed to my sense of humour, but it just felt a little bit sick and wrong that a young girl had not only thrown that, but had also thought to dress it up that way. On the other hand they still behaved like typical teenage girlies, all wanting a slice of what they think is a glamourous "celebrity" lifestyle. Bless their hearts but they probably still think that travelling in a tourbus with the lead singer of a band is an exciting and glamourous thing to do!
I have to say that their idea of glamourous travelling and my idea of the same thing are probably a little bit different, but before anyone says anything - no it doesnt have anything to do with age, other than I have seen more of what life has to offer. When I think of glamourous travelling I think of The Orient Express, or even Concord when that was running, but life on a tourbus hasn't been an attractive idea for the last, ooh, say 20 years or so lol! I mean, stop to consider the practicalities for a moment, such as the food being dire and the cause of the "all for one and one for all" theory when it comes to getting sick, or that you now can't use the bathroom on the tourbus *ahem* "properly", as now you have to pay some member of the entourage around £2000 to empty the chemical toilet each time, and that the sleeping arrangements on even the nicest tourbuses look as though they are a cross between a 12 year olds bunkbed and a mortuary drawer, and if you combine that with 5 or 6 other guys, all farting in the middle of the night right above your head and to your left and right, well, call me "picky" but that isnt necessarily how I would choose to sleep lol. Then there are the inevitable squabbles that will happen even between guys who normally get on with each other really well, and that you never get a moment to yourself, or rather if you do want a moment to yourself you have to retire to the previously mentioned "mortuary drawer/bunkbed" in order to do so, and finally that "backstage" is often not the air conditioned paragon of luxury that some think it might be, moreover it is really just a place to be concealed away from the masses. Even Aerosmith have had to change in a peeling corridor or two in their time. That said there are a lot of benefits to travelling like this too - namely the mobile bohemian lifestyle, and speaking as a person who has a mother with Romanian heritage, this lifestyle certainly appeals to me on a few levels. So bless them, and I really do mean this nicely and sincerely; perhaps we should let the girlies dream while they still can. Just hopefully not of Ville riding butt - naked and bareback on a "Gimpicorn", lol!
On the subject of fans talking to Ville whilst he was on stage, I have to say that I was tempted to do the same thing - seriously. I wanted to call down to him and ask him if his lyric "Page 43" in Shatter Me With Hope had anything to do with the song of the same name by David Crosby (please see previous post), but I chickened out at the last minute. I am kicking myself now of course, but you cant dwell on these things, maybe I will have another chance to ask him in the future?
I spent some time watching the crowd while I was there and was pleased to note that there was a fairly equal male/female ratio. Marianne told me that when she first saw HIM, it was mostly girls in the audience, infact she said that the poor boys who did go never made it into the first 3-5 rows infront of the stage, lol! But Thursday night was different and the vibe was just incredible. The Guys seemed to enjoy their time on stage as much as the audience enjoyed them being up there, which was a wonderful bonus, I am glad that they enjoyed it. I wondered if there were not more songs from the new album on the set list, because maybe the guys were worried that the new album was so different that the fans might not like it, and maybe that was the reason that some of the older songs were included. Songs that they knew people liked. I hope that this wasn't the case as I love this new album, and judging from what I heard everyone else saying on the night, "Screamworks...." has gone down really well with everyone else too. Personally I think it is the best album they have ever recorded, and I never thought I would say that, as I love all of their others so equally. Overall I think there was probably the right mix of old and new songs, judging by the crowds reaction to them all, but again personally I think I would have like to hear at least a couple more songs from the new album, particularly "In the arms of Rain", as this song reminds me of a post I wrote on here last year about my Dad. That is not to say that I didn't really enjoy myself, because for lots of reasons I had the best time, and not hearing more new songs didnt in any way spoil my enjoyment of the night. For reasons that are entirely personal, my favourite songs of the night were Poison Girl, Join Me In Death, Scared To Death, Katherine Wheel, and for a different reason The Funeral of Hearts ("Eeeviiiiiilll") Lol!!!
I enjoyed the night so much that I even went on over to YouTube and "favourited" some of the videos that have already been uploaded from the concert, (I cant beleive that they got them on there so quickly!). I even found a guy on there who was standing next to me and had a quick message back and forth with him, lol (Hi Ethan, hope you get the new camera soon). Now that Sarah is not around I can actually get on YouTube, I havent been able to get on it for so long that I forgot what my user name and password was!
For those who might be interested, as you will know from a couple of my previous posts on here, my biggest fear about going to the concert was whether or not HIM's songs were still going to help with my pain once I knew what the guys looked like. I know how my mind works and I knew that I would think about anything that I had learned about them, instead of just being able to concentrate on the music and lyrics, which are what had previously worked for me. Well, I woke up in a lot of pain on Friday morning after the concert and that was the morning I was due to check out of my hotel, so in a panic I put on some HIM songs and desperately hoped that they would work. To my amazement and surprise they actually worked quicker than they would do normally, and yesterday was the same.
Well, I have to sign off now as I am going to try to get to Foyles in London by about 2.30- 3.30ish this afternoon, so I have just about enough time to say: