The Love Metal night of the year for some folks was finally upon Portsmouth and the sell out crowd queued around the block of the Guildhall. Finish metal stars HIM were in town.
Nobody has come to see the support band Cathedral. With a packed hall of HIM fans from the start and a crowd in such a frenzy, they were on a loser to start with. In fact the lead singers' mic didn't work on the first song and it was a shame the German road crew got it to work before the second song started. ClichÃ©d rock posturing made them look like Deep Purple when they wanted to be Black Sabbath. The sight of the lead singer's slow motion head banging to one their more 'funeral' orientated tracks was funny. Wrapping the lead around his neck prior to an imitation self-hanging at the end of the last song of the set summed this gig up. You'll be hard pushed to spot a Cathedral fan; especially on the strength of T-Shirt sales tonight. But Ozzie had the last laugh after 30 years so who knows?
The crowd cheered the roadies during the interval, the unveiling of the drum kit and the rapturous applause upon the unveiling at the massive 'heartagram' at the rear of the stage. The Heartagram being a love heart shape merged with a cross within a circle (clever stuff).
The Band enter stage left Ville Valo on vocals, Gas on drums, Burton on keyboards, Mige on bass, Linde on guitar. The band has huge support from skate punk Bam Margeria on MTV and is big all over Europe. Valo (His Infernal Majesty!) is the star and attracts all the bras and knickers from the mostly teenage crowd. He's wearing a 3-piece pin stripped suit, which disappoints the girls/boys eager to see his numerous tatts. At least he's got rid of the facial hair from the summer festivals. Chain smoking through the whole night he's got a bit of a Bowie persona about him of the Low/Heroes period with a Nick Cave look.
Most the songs are formulaic and get their energy from the drum and base section of the band. The bassist playing most of the gig with a bra dangling from the end of the guitar's neck. The keyboard player hardly gets a look in and the guitarist is rarely allowed anything of substance (excellent Dreads though). The Heartagram plays it's part with a different lighting colour scheme for each song.
Their hits, 'The Sacrament, 'Funeral of Hearts', 'And Love Says No' go down well together with a couple of unusual covers. 'Wicked Game' (Chris Isaacs) and 'Solitary Man'. Ville explains he's no fan of the Neil Diamond cheesy original of the later but he harder 'man in black' Johnny Cash version.
Towards the end it all went pear shaped as Shaun the roadie hasn't got Ville his acoustic guitar ready for a new song that's going to make the next album and the vocal mike wasn't set right which put him in a somewhat comical position singing into the acoustics' mike setting. Good effort on his part. And then it they all went off stage after he declared war on "all German Roadies of Finish metal bands". The crowd seemed stunned and 10 minutes later they reappeared and after a mere two more numbers and they were gone again, never to return. No encore. HIM seemed to have missed the climax.
I'm sure they're sorting out whatever the problem was on the rest of the tour which finishes in London on Halloween. I'm sure the majority to the fans didn't care. HIM can't do wrong, don't question HIM.