My desire to be a music journalist is nothing new. Once upon a time, aged 13-16, I kept a scrapbook of concerts that I attended. However, not realizing just how many I would end up going to, it wasn’t updated very often.
In this series, I will brush off the dust and transcribe these old diary entries (with emphasis on ‘diary’ as they aren’t reviews) in all their flawed glory. I’m not proud of some of these, or what I write about (crowd surfing and being dropped on your head in retrospect is annoying, and nothing to be proud of). Maybe it’s not the greatest idea to post these in the middle of a portfolio of serious work, but I was barely a teenager. You can forgive me can’t you?
HIM were one of my first favourite bands, and I was ecstatic about this show. After surviving Wednesday 13, I felt invincible but I was brought down quite a few levels and was slightly overwhelmed by this one. This was the first time that I was really star-struck at a concert, and technical mishaps or not, it was a real dream to be there. The only thing that really prevented me screaming like a girl at a One Direction concert was the fact that my Dad was watching.
HIM (Portsmouth Guildhall, 16th October 2004)
This is the first gig I went to without invitation, having only gone to Wednesday 13 as a friend had a spare ticket. It was finally an act that I had chosen! However, that privilege came at a price… nobody wanted to go with me.
The four tickets ended up going to me, my brother, my Dad and a stranger outside of the show. I bought a bootleg T-shirt and a poster for £5. I would then vandalize it by giving Ville Valo a moustache and beard with blu-tac. Oddly, come the following album’s release, he had grown identical facial hair, not quite so blue though.
There was just one support tonight, which was very entertaining, though not for the music itself. Cathedral might have been good had the vocal mic been working. The audience lost interest and a lot of people started watching the upper circle of the venue. At the front was probably the only person REALLY enjoying the band. He had no idea that so many people were watching his maniacal head banging. He then smashed his head on the barrier. Lots of people saw it, even in the circle. And laughed.
After Cathedral, a sheet was dropped at the back of the stage, revealing a massive metallic ‘heartagram’ (their logo). That alone got an equally massive ovation, which only got louder when the band took to the stage.
They opened with ‘Buried Alive By Love’, which resulted in a very large mosh pit. Then I made the mistake of attempting to crowd surf. After I succeeded at a Wednesday 13, I guess I felt invincible, and it hadn’t really dawned on me yet that people weren’t particularly happy when someone surfed over their head. I was dropped on my head. Twice. It would explain a lot, a nice instance to blame insanity on. I’ve been told that Ville Valo caught that and cringed. He may have been disgusted, but being acknowledged by one of my favourite people in music could only be a good thing.
All was well aside from the lump on my head, until Cathedral’s technical hitches and glitches spread to HIM. As they began to play ballads (such as ‘This Fortress of Tears’), most instruments worked only half of the time. During louder tracks, it would have been masked by noise. They left the stage while the problems were resolved.
The delays apparently cut two tracks from the set, but our patience was rewarded with hellos from Gas Lipstick and Mige Amour. Perhaps the most rewarding… erm, reward was a premiere performance. While Ville’s vocal mic was being fixed, he kept the audience amused with an acoustic guitar. (1)
The surprises didn’t end there, as the audience was given the opportunity to choose the next song as compensation. Possibly a good deal as two songs tracks would be replaced with a fan favourite. The result was ‘Razorblade Kiss’, a track that hadn’t been performed for four years (2). Ville warned the crowd that they hadn’t performed it in a while, so excuse any mistakes. Admittedly, I didn’t know the track at the time, but it has since become one of my favourites. It’s a shame, because I would have been ecstatic at the time. My favourite at the time, ‘Pretending’, was apparently one of the dropped tracks, however what we got instead was a great replacement.
The show closed with ‘Soul on Fire’, which was met with violent moshing that I didn’t even attempt to join in with. Altogether, I didn’t do much jumping or shouting because my Dad was watching, and I looked like a bit of t***. (3)
However, I had a terrific time. £16 well spent.
(1) What he played turned out to be the main riff of ‘Under the Rose’, a track that wasn’t released for another year. It was probably unfinished at the time, so maybe our positive reaction was the primary catalyst for its inclusion in Dark Light. I like to think so anyway.
(2) Much to my disappointment, I discovered almost ten years later, after a nose around setlist.fm that I had misheard Ville. It wasn’t four years, but a mere four months. That’s not to say it wasn’t awesome though.
(3) Even though the book was for my eyes only, I still censored the word ‘twat’.