@ Newcastle o2 Academy, March 16 2010

It’s always good when a band can blast you with their crescendo of ideas and light a bulb in the mind or a fire in the soul. 

When love is the theme, Finnish rockers HIM know how to barrage the crowd with a dark bliss of lost love to leave you thinking about the heart-wrenching skeletons in the closet.  On a night of croonings, wanings and screams HIM and US band Dommin (pictured) flashed by Newcastle on their current tour. 

Ontheir first ever visit to the city, Dommin quickly made an impression with contrasts of palm muted guitar thuds with the crisp vocal wailings of Kristofer Dommin.  Popular song My Heart, Your Hands impressed.  With the sounds of a choir playing, bells tolling and hard riffs rumbling it’s easy to see how it established itself as a fan favourite, especially when given its impact live.

The introduction of Dark Holiday oozed the atmosphere of a jazz ridden circus erupting into an energy of thrashing guitars.  Dommin’s short but sweet performance also featured a cover of (I Just) Died In Your Arms which did justice to the Cutting Crew original and set the crowd into an eager frenzy to join in.

To many people’s surprise HIM were welcomed onto the stage with the Shangri Las song Dressed In Black.  The best way to put it is that the idea was probably similar to HIM’s overall feeling towards love; it’s a good idea in theory but it just didn’t work in practice.  With the sound having a few problems at the start and more people with camera phones in the air rather than clapping hands, it was difficult to gauge how this gig was going to go. 

However, when the third song, Wings of a Butterfly, began the spectacle had immediate effect on the crowd.  Exhibiting some beautiful harmonising and steady pacing guitars, HIM picked up from their slow start and began lulling the masses into their world.

It was a shame that some speeches by Valo were overdone and broke the rhythm of the set at times, saying that he didn’t need merchandise from the fans being thrown onto the stage and even mentioning the ‘reasonable price’ of the tickets at one point. 

Nevertheless HIM went on to produce some great renditions of some classic songs.  Buried Alive By Love had convincing force.  While Mikko Lindstrom careened up and down the scale of his guitar, Valo demonstrated the potential of his voice with deep melancholic singing eventually bursting out into a hair-raising scream to top off the song. 

HIM finished their one and a half hour set in style.  As per usual, they finished with the song that brought them widespread fame, The Funeral Of Hearts, which epitomized the beautiful division between the thunderous power of guitars and tip-toe tinkering of the keyboards. 

HIM are a very well balanced act that makes them easily accessible for any stray ear.  Musically they call themselves Love Metal, a self-branding that just feels right in every sense.  Despite the choppy breaks in the set sometimes dragging you back out of a world of soul sobs and rejected love, it’s still eloquently performed and irresistibly captivating.

Calum Robson