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HIM - December 29, 2007 - Nokia Theater, New York, NY

By: Christa Titus

The Nokia Theatre on Times Square, despite being a brand-new multimillion dollar venue, defeated its own purpose by making its acoustics an afterthought, so it's a toss-up how good things will sound eminating from the speaker system. HIM did itself a favor byi mporting sound technitions for its tour, who made the Finns one of the best-sounding shows we've heard at the theater. They gave the room a heavy dose of heartbreak rock with their tightly knit live chops as if it was second nature.

In appearance, HIM is a mishmashed crew. Lanky guitarist Linde would have been memorable for his butt-length blond dreadlocks alone if he hadn't been a ferocious performer—this is the man who shoulders the latter half of HIM's love metal equation. His impassioned, to-the-point soloing was like tossing a shot of Guns N' Roses' whiskey-soaked attitude into a dark Finnish ale to make a rock'n'roll car bomb. Ironically, the players on the bottom end were heftier:bassist Migé and drummer Gas, who beat his skins with determination. Keyboardist Burton, subdued in black,made his presence known only as needed.

And then there's Ville Vallo, a character all his own. So whispy that the blistering wind outside could have knocked him over, the frontman's dark suit—and voice—seem to weigh more than he, and hisi mpressive crooning makes you wonder if it would be out of line to dub him the Frank Sinatra of love metal. With his snapping fingers, hisso-casual-it-could-be-mistaken-as-boredom posing and his ever-present cigarette, he verged on a goth Rap Packer, sans the ring-a-ding-dingvibe.

Before Vallo even sang the first note of opening song "Passion's Killing Floor," he quickly sucked down a drag to fortify himself, and puffed between verses without noticable strain. Throughout the show,he was so relaxed onstage he might as well have been lounging in one of Hugh Heffner's silk bathrobes. The contrast of his nochalance with his Boris Karloff-ish tone was startling when he unleashed a wail for"Razorblade Kiss," showing that his singing isn't exactly effortless.

HIM is a considerate performer, so it didn't hold out on the room,making it wait to hit the climaxes the faithful were longing for. It headed straight for "Wicked Game," a cover of the Chris Isaak hit that the band has metalized into its own power anthem. Gas simply went off during follow-up, "Buried Alive by Love," which the quartet drove home with a five-star showing. It was the same case for "The Kiss Of Dawn,""Dead Lover's Lane" and "Soul On Fire" (which featured anotherrighteous solo by Linde).

Released from the confines of the studio, HIM rocks its songs harder than the mixes on its CDs sometimes permit. "Join Me" and "Killing Loneliness" are natural pop tunes, but songs like "Sleepwalking Past Hope," an enjoyably meandering jam that waned for 10 minutes, let the band put its lyrical misery through the musical wringer. All told, it was an hour-and-a-half of love-scorched metal that could please HotTopic brats and moody adults alike.


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