After 20 years together, Finnish goth-metal band <a href=”/music/him”>HIM</a> is calling it quits. But before throwing in the towel, they’ve embarked on a farewell tour, which included a 19-date North American leg that ended at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom on Friday night (Nov. 17).
In a nod to the self-imposed send-off, the five-piece band — which categorizes their brand of rock as “love metal” and uses a fused heart and pentagram as their logo (aka a “heartagram”) — pumped the apropos “Bye Bye Love” by <a href=”/music/the-everly-brothers”>The Everly Brothers</a> through the speakers before and after the show.
While HIM never found mainstream success in the States — their best-known song, “Wings of a Butterfly,” peaked at No. 87 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2006 — they have a devout following that packed the venue.
Unfortunately, the venue did not do them justice. The show was marred with poor sound quality and a microphone malfunction that caused lead singer Ville Valo to grab his crotch, throw down the mic and walk offstage along with the rest of the band just eight songs in. After several minutes of confusion in the crowd, the band thankfully returned to meander through a 100-minute set that included at least one song from each of their eight studio albums.
Despite the show-stopping technical glitch, Valo was in good spirits, and he sounded good too. Fan favorites like “Butterfly,” “Join Me in Death” and “Right Here in My Arms” got the crowd pumping fists and jostling each other. At one point, a female fan apparently got aggressive in the crowd, and Valo once again stopped the show to tell her to calm down before adding, “We pay a lot of money to see catfights on TV, but this is not TV. It’s our last time in New York City … so, please.”
Heavy on older material, they performed only one song (“Heartkiller”) off 2010’s Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice, their most commercially accessible and arguably best album, and just the title track off their most recent album, 2013’s Tears on Tape. There were also two covers: <a href=”/music/Chris-Isaak”>Chris Isaak</a>’s “Wicked Game” (which featured a stellar guitar solo from Linde Lindstrom) and <a href=”/music/billy-idol”>Billy Idol</a>’s “Rebel Yell.”
Despite the air of excitement in the room (at times, fans were screaming so loud you couldn’t hear Valo’s between-song banter), there was also a tinge of solemness: No one wants to see their favorite band break up. Valo, who wore a form-fitting black suit and beanie, equated the night to “getting stoned at a funeral.” While the gathering wasn’t that solemn, people did fly in from around the country — and even the rest of the world — to see the show.
But unlike a funeral, never say never when it comes to a band breakup: In a recent interview, Valo left the door open for a future reunion, saying, “The good thing is there’s no drama, so it doesn’t hurt the chances.”