HIM Bang & Whimper Farewell Tour Concert Recap
For those who are unaware, the Finnish band HIM (His Infernal Majesty) is finally ending their United States touring days with the Bang & Whimper 2017 tour. After forming in 1991 in Helsinki the band broke up for a short time but reformed in 1995 and released their debut album Greatest Love Songs Vol. 666 in 1997. Some members of the band have changed, but the vocals of Valo have remained the one constant since the band’s formation. Their albums have charted in over 15 different countries and their self-proclaimed brand of “Love Metal” combines the classic love song with gothic rock as displayed in such songs as “Vampire Heart”, “Killing Loneliness”, “Right Here in My Arms” and perhaps their most well-known song, “Rip Out the Wings of a Butterfly”.
On November 16th I attended this tour at the Palladium in Worcester, Massachusetts to be a part of their history. I had the privilege of seeing these guys at the House of Blues in Boston a couple of years ago and was blown away by the show they put on. On this night, however, I had to wait a while before I got to see them as they chose a couple of amazing bands to open for them.
Playing first was the band 3 Teeth from Los Angeles. I must admit I was unfamiliar with them but I was interested to hear their sound and find out what they brought to the table musically. I was not disappointed. The lead singer Alexis Mincolla, looking like a cross between Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver and Tom Hardy in Bronson wrapped in a leather jacket featuring the band logo commanded the stage. He had, to me, a very Rob Zombie sound to his voice with the way his voice was powerful but almost guttural. They were excellent, and I would recommend them to anyone who enjoys the music of Rob Zombie, Nine Inch Nails, Slipknot or Marilyn Manson.
Up next was the band that I personally predicted would play with HIM because in my mind, and in the minds of many of their fans, these two bands go together like peanut butter and jelly. I’m talking of course about the band CKY from West Chester, Pennsylvania. Originally formed in 1998 by lead vocalist and guitarist Deron Miller, guitarist and backing vocalist Chad I Ginsburg and drummer Jess Margera (brother of skateboarding icon Bam Margera, who helped popularize HIM via the MTV show Jackass), the band now features Ginsburg as the lead vocalist with Matt Deis on bass and backing vocals. I recently saw CKY play at the Van’s Warped Tour in July, so I knew what to expect as far as the differences in the sound of the band. Deron had a very specific sound to his voice so fans who didn’t know that a change was made might be caught off guard by the difference in the lead vocals, but Chad does a great job as the lead. They put on a fantastic show, and I was especially pleased that they played their two best (in my opinion) songs, “96 Quite Bitter Beings” and “Escape From Hellview”.
When the main event finally arrived I was prepared and knew exactly what to expect. See, unlike most bands that I’ve seen, and I’ve seen a lot, Ville Valo knows that people are there to see the band play. He understands that people don’t need the incessant platitudes and acknowledgment of the crowd. Many bands will tell you how much they love the fans in the particular city they’re in, how this is the best crowd they’ve seen throughout their tour or mentioning how great it is to be back in the city where they happen to be playing that night. I’m not saying that these bands aren’t being genuine when they say these things, I’m just saying that HIM understands that it isn’t always necessary. They come out, and they play. From 9 o’clock until the show ended, they just played their music. They did stop once because someone in the pit in front of the stage looked like they needed help. Valo asked if everything was okay because they “don’t want anyone to be hurt”. Once it was determined that everything was indeed okay, they picked up right where they left off – in the middle of a song like they never stopped in the first place.
They played all of their best songs, including their cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” and even encored with their version of “Rebel Yell” made famous originally by Billy Idol. Now I’m not the most dedicated, hardcore fan of this band but there were many songs that I just didn’t recognize. After conferring with my brothers Dan and Dave (who ARE the most dedicated, hardcore fans) they told me that they played some “deep cuts” from their library of work. The two of them were impressed and excited about that. I had a really great time with this show as well because my brothers and I have never attended a show together before so that made it extra special for me.
Overall, I’m really sad to see these guys go. They put on such an amazing show, and they really get their fans and understand what they want to see when they attend a show. For anyone wondering, HIM’s final show will be on New Year’s Eve as the final installment of their Helldone Festival in their hometown of Helsinki Finland. As of this writing, 99% of the tickets were gone, so your chances of seeing them are slim if you don’t already have tickets. But I would imagine that this show is going to be the greatest they’ve ever put on – and that’s saying something.