HIM@ Newcastle O2 Academy, October 22 2013

HIM are known for their electric live shows and frontman Ville Valo has long cultivated a reputation as a skilled ringmaster – he did not disappoint.

The crowd was barely patient during the support act and the excitement in the air was palpable during the brief build-up before the headliners came on stage.

Once Valo was there he spoke little to the crowd – even claiming during the encore that he was bad at interaction. But it didn’t even matter. 

The crowd responded to him instinctively, most notably during the penultimate song, The Funeral of Hearts.

The rest of the band were so above solid that describing them as “solid” almost seems like an insult. Lead guitarist Mikko Lindström, in particular, shone through several solos.

HIM’s new album, Tears on Tape, came out in April, and songs from it were well received.

The set boasted a solid mix – varied enough that if you had come off the back of the new album there’d be something for you to recognise but with plenty of offerings for the demanding diehards.

(“Diehards” is not an overstatement. The man in front of me for most of the show had the band’s distinctive insignia, the heartagram, tattooed on the back of his neck.)

There were ongoing sound issues, predominantly with Valo’s microphone, which is the sort of thing that can become an issue when a band’s frontman is so literally the frontman. But Valo simply smirked and carried on.

And there were two standout songs – Your Sweet 666 and Soul on Fire – but for entirely different reasons.

Your Sweet 666 is sultry but threatening when live and Valo came dangerously close to the edge of the stage while performing it.

But Soul on Fire was the complete opposite, bringing the band together as a unit, and ending on a blistering guitar solo.

There was a notable omission – the melancholy piano-based The Sacrament – and a notable rarity – the encore performance of When Love And Death Embrace.

Judging by the crowd reaction alone, despite recently passing their 20th birthday as a band, HIM aren’t going anywhere, anytime soon.

Mercedes Broadbent