March 31, 2014 HIM & Anathema Join Forces For an Unforgettable Night in NYC 3-16-14
In early 2013, HIM announced the Tears On Tour for their North American audience which excited a strong and dedicated following. Unfortunately, due to Ville Vallo falling ill, the tour was cancelled, but HIM returned state side in the fall of 2013 as part of the Rock Allegiance tour. Now in early 2014, HIM is back in North America to perform a long list of headlining dates, lifting the spirits of fan disappointment from the prior year’s cancellation. With the one year anniversary of the Tears On Tape (2013) album approaching at the end of April, their has been more time for audiences to sink their teeth into the music and perhaps this tour is more anticipated than ever before. A late, but exciting addition to the tour bill was the influential UK band Anathema. With two bands of this magnitude teaming up on tour, this is one of the more memorable tandems in sometime. That is exactly why two nights in New York City were necessary; with a sold out show Friday March 14th at Irving Plaza, an equally large turn-out recollected on Sunday March 16th at the same place and same time to witness the performance.
Anathema has been together over two decades with nine studio albums, countless live performances throughout Europe, and a progressing sound that is becoming contagious to a broader audience. After spending the majority of their career in Europe, Anathema finally came to North America in 2011 for an abbreviated acoustic tour. Two years later, they made their way back across the sea to play a full-blown headlining tour with the entire band on stage for what would be a highly successful venture. Now, less than one year later, the band is welcomed back with open arms to perform once again.
Lead by the brother duo of Daniel and Vincent Cavanagh, Anathema’s line-up is rounded out by an impressive group of musicians including the angelic vocal styling of Lee Douglas. With a large number of their own fans in the audience, a buzz was flowing through the floor as the band took the stage. Opening with the introspective Judgment (1999) song “Deep”, the mood was set right from the start. Wasting no time, the band jumped forward to the beautifully tranquil “Untouchable, Part 1” and “A Simple Mistake”. Fans watched in awe as these songs came to life before their very eyes. For some, this being their first introduction to the band, not one person walked away during the set disinterested and they devoted their undivided attention to this new experience. While Vincent Cavanagh was completely enthralled in the performance, Daniel engaged the audience by speaking graciously about the chance to play their music in front of new audiences. Vincent Cavanagh’s face bled emotion and intensity through each song, as if he was reliving each life experience right there on stage.
The mood flowed on at a steady pace, leading into the cool dream-like “A Natural Disaster”. With the talents of Lee Douglas taking center stage, her performance glimmered as she sang with soul. Just when you thought this performance could not get any better, “Closer” began. The synth pitch-shifting effect on Vincent Cavanagh’s voice sent shock waves through the room as the climax built and exploded with a heavy assortment of guitars, drums, and bass. At this point, this was more than a concert; it was a journey into sound and the human experience. At the peak of excitement, the set closed out with fan favorite “Fragile Dreams” off the Alternative 4 (1998) album. There is no doubt that Anathema is a force of nature. With two performances in the USA in less than two years after nearly a twenty years absence, it’s about time people become aware of who and what Anathema is.
After an intermission, it was time for HIM to take the stage. HIM’s rise to popularity in North America began nearly ten years ago with the breakthrough of Dark Light (2005). Since that time, they have become one of rock’s most respected and adored bands, selling out show after show when returning to perform in the states. Lead by charming vocalist Ville Vallo, the band’s popularity has not dwindled and Tears On Tape (2013) solidifies their relevance in present times.
With fans cheering loudly, the band came onto the stage opening with “Buried Alive By Love”. With the light reflecting off the stage, a powerful sound resonated through Irving Plaza with HIM playing tightly, on time, and electrifying. The storm of love metal didn’t let up, going right into “Rip Out The Wings Of A Butterfly”, “Right Here In My Arms”, and “The Kiss of Dawn”. This balance of some of the band’s most popular tracks had the fans moving and thoroughly stimulated.
Mixing things up the band played newer song “All Lips Go Blue”. Vallo’s voice was extremely strong and clarified, as the guitar tones of Mikko “Linde” Lindström were warm and inviting. It’s easy to see HIM’s variety of influences, especially during a live performance where sounds of jazz, classic rock, new wave, doom metal, and gothic rock bleed through. Emotions were at their highest point during the set when the opening key strokes of Janne “Burto” Puurtinen playing “Join Me In Death” began. Fans participation elevated and a collective “This Life Ain’t Worth Living” screamed through the venue in sync with the timing of the song. Smiling and pumped up, the audience was led into more sing along tunes such as “Your Sweet 666”, “Passion’s Killing Floor”, and “Soul on Fire”. This energy level was equally matched by the band and Vallo’s impressive performance.
Marching on, the band played the popular Chris Isaak cover tune “Wicked Game”. To many fans, this was their first introduction to HIM and the band’s rendition of the romantic song still reigns supreme. Continuing to mesh the old and new together, “Tears On Tape” and “Poison Girl” kept things going. Adding intrigue and excitement, the seldom heard, until recently, “For You” graced the set-list and sounded refreshing and spectacular to hear. With such a long list of options to choose from for live shows, it’s nice to see HIM go back into to the vault and bring this song to the light of day.
After closing the set with “Funeral of Hearts,” it was evident this audience was not ready to say goodnight, and they were granted an encore led by new track “Into The Light”. Full of surprise, the encore also was highlighted by “It’s All Tears (Drown in This Love)” which has only been performed on select dates of this tour. The ability of HIM to continuously refresh their performance is what keeps fans coming back time after time. Applauding and cheering upon the closing song of “When Love and Death Embrace”, this crowd was completely satisfied with the evening and it’s safe to say they will be returning for HIM’s next touring cycle.