Huxley’s Neue Welt, Berlin, Germany
7th October 2013
HIM & Caspian
After the sold-out concert in spring, for which the fans of Finish love metal icons HIM had to wait several years for them to come back to Germany, the band decided to use the opportunity to come back not even half a year later. The city once again was Berlin but the venue got bigger and instead of coming alone like before, they brought along company. What else did change and what stayed the same?
An admittedly strange choice of HIM was to bring US-American post rockers CASPIAN to the European stages, as I made up my mind beforehand. Not only does the music per se probably doesn’t have quite the same target audience as the main act, but it is also absent of vocals for most of the time, which I would adduce as one of the most appealing characteristics of HIM. However, I was looking forward to the gig, since I really like the post-rock trend, which has a growing audience these days, although CASPIAN don’t come anywhere near riding coat-tails. The band plays atmosphere driven ambient rock with a considerable usage of artificial sounds and effects and consists of Philip Jamieson (guitar, keyboard), Calvin Joss (guitar, chimes), Joe Vickers (drums) and Erin Burke-Muran (guitar). Sadly not only two months before the gig founding member and bassist Chris Friedrich died unexpectedly, but they managed to keep the band together for the tour.
When they started to play, it was obvious that there wasn’t really a spark that got to the audience and I don’t blame them for not being enthusiastic. The post-rock CASPIAN plays with all its layers besides all the vanilla songs the radio presents us, can be hard to digest. When I listened to the great build ups and structures, I somehow wished myself to be anywhere but a concert hall before the main act. But they did a fair job to carry your thoughts away in their songs, when you allowed it. Performance-wise there was not much going on, only the feeling that the music really flowed out of the performers, who wandered across the stage or performed some body-banging. Apart from that they were busy to handle all the effects the music required. While handing the synthesizers guitarist Philip Jamieson even performed some vocals, which had ambient characteristics and supported the song’s unfolding.
Reasonably the tracks aren’t the shortest and only a few could be performed before they had to leave the stage 40 minutes later. The most memorable moment definitely was the ending of the last song played where gradually every member put away their instrument and began to perform on the individual parts of the drum kit, which resulted in a conclusive storm wave of sound. I definitely recommend checking out some of their songs as well as live performances, since they do have some potential for special moments. http://www.caspianmusic.net / https://www.facebook.com/CaspianTheBand
Total: 7.4 / 10
Not long after the first moments of album and live opener ‘Unleash the red’ began to play, Janne Puurtinen (keyboards), Mika Karppinen (drums), Mikko Paananen (bass), Mikko Lindström (guitar) and of course Ville Valo (vocals) set foot on the stage, grabbed their instruments and proceeded with ‘All lips go blue’. As ‘Buried Alive By Love’ and ‘Rip Out the Wings of a Butterfly’ turned out to be the songs that followed, I sensed that this set wouldn’t be any different from the one HIM played only a few months ago in that very city and on every festival gig in between. I tried to make up my mind whether they assumed because of the sold-out concert at the Postbahnhof the crowd would be entirely different or it was too much of an effort to surprise the Berlin crown and true and considerably numerous fan base - which of course would have bought tickets for both of the concerts before their favourite band disappears again for several years – with at least one or two alternate songs. But that didn’t attune.
Besides that, there were quite a few things that remained constant: The musician’s professionalism and expertise was always present, as well as the tremendous, ever huger-than-before live sound. The size of the crowd seemed also about the same; hence the venue had enough room, which was loosely filled in the last third. On the other hand and fortunately the lighting was wonderful and hardly resembled the situation at the Postbahnhof. The band seemed to be in good mood (although I think to have ascertained more musical enthusiasm the other day) and everyone gave a great performance. Mika’s drumming was tight as always, Migé’s bass thick, thumping and the perfect complement for Linde’s slick and skilled guitar runs. That talent shone especially in songs like ‘Wicked Game’ which good old Chris Isaac wouldn’t recognize any more with its several minutes keyboard and guitar soli incorporated in the centre of the piece build around a quite soft rockfish version of the song, which gave Ville the opportunity to get another beer from backstage and rest his chords. Another noticeable and funny highlight was ‘It’s all tears’ which HIM ended with an additional Black-Sabbath-like part and Ville singing in his deepest possible pitch. Furthermore the song ‘Kiss of dawn’ got an extra funky guitar/keyboard part with a rendition of the vocal line.
Apart from that everything was business as usual but impressive and enjoyable through and through. From time to time Ville grabbed the acoustic guitar in support of the song like in ‘Join Me’ which he hadn’t done in the past, while I still missed the backing vocals. The choice of songs I also still liked, although/ because the previous album ‘Screamworks’ was left uncovered. One thing I noticed after having listened to the recent tracks for quite time now: Especially after performing the single/ video released track ‘Tears on tape’ right in follow up to the very dynamic ‘Passions killing floor’, it leaves kind of a stale impression with its steady, uniform writing. The same I noticed with ‘Into the night’ after ‘Soul on fire’. But that are only my two cents. Before the last song, ‘The funeral of hearts’, was announced, Ville declared that he “understands that an encore might not be required” because of the mid-week day and everyone’s work in the morning, but that they have prepared themselves for one. Of course the fans demanded them to the stage again and Ville further explained that the encore would be a “slow and doomy song” which initially “enabled us to tour you wonderful county the first time”. That song was not hard to guess and so the evening ended with ‘When love and death embrace’.
That circumstance wasn’t quite satisfying because they didn’t give the additional song ‘Sleepwalking Past Hope’ like they did at the Postbahnhof (even part of it made appearance at the end of ‘Wicked Game’). However, HIM played a superior concert which turned out to be more than worthwhile, if it is only for the little details if not the brilliant performance of every member. http://www.heartagram.com/ / https://www.facebook.com/theheartagram
01. Unleash the Red
02. All Lips Go Blue
03. Buried Alive By Love
04. Rip Out the Wings of a Butterfly
05. Right Here in My Arms
06. The Kiss of Dawn
07. Join Me in Death
08. Your Sweet 666
09. Passion's Killing Floor
10. Tears on Tape
11. Wicked Game
12. It's All Tears (Drown in This Love)
13. Soul on Fire
14. Into the Night
15. The Funeral of Hearts
16. When Love and Death Embrace
Total: 9.3 / 10
All pictures by Florian Schürmann