HIM/VIKING SKULL - Manchester Academy. Anybody esle go?
Posted by: Surfpunk ()
Date: February 01, 2004 07:07AM

I’m gobsmacked! Not at the decision to move this gig up from the Academy 2 (Students Union), the enormous queue as a result, or the incredibly packed Academy itself. I’m gobsmacked at the reception given to the night’s support band VIKING SKULL! Imagine every mid-seventies classic rock/metal band rolled into one package. A slice of LIZZY, a dose of AC/DC, a whole lotta ZEPPELIN and a volume of SABBATH! No bad thing in itself, except VIKING SKULL look like SPINAL TAP! Or worse, BAD NEWS!! And yet this predominantly young crowd was lapping up all the posturing and calls to punch the air and clap along like….like they’d never seen it before! And there’s the key. VIKING SKULL give good credence to the theory that it’s not a style of music that the post ‘Nu’ generation of rock fans are opposed to, just that that they want bands of their OWN generation, not their parents. There but by the grace of God go THE DARKNESS.

Back in 2001 I poured scorn on former DANGER DANGER frontman Ted Poley’s decision to call his album of the time ‘Lovemetal’. Now, 3 years later, there could be an argument for me to eat my own words, given the wider breakthrough success of Finnish band HIM, and their third full release with the same title. Actually, no, there isn’t! It’s still a pants title, with all the SPINAL TAP visions it generates. Now if VIKING SKULL called their album that…!(Sorry Ted, the music WAS still great though).
At times HIM seem to have taken ‘Vision Thing’ era SISTERS OF MERCY as their blueprint and added their own touches. The old Goth influence doesn’t end there either. Ville Valo’s voice is often very reminiscent of THE MISSION’s Wayne Hussey. And yet, while Ville may well be the star of this particular show, he ain’t no Andrew Eldritch, although to a crowd of whom many will be unaware of who Eldritch is, that is irrelevant I guess. What initially seemed like a lazy, egocentric, certainly ‘workmanlike’ performance from the frontman was soon qualified by him announcing that he had been sick all morning, and he was avoiding moving too quickly onstage in case he “shat himself”!

Fair enough!

Musically, HIM are unspectacular. It could be argued they have little more to offer than several Z or N&T acts, but they have a very big, dense sound (though whether the triple bass drum kit contributes any more to this than mere aesthetic value is debatable) and if the performance was less than exciting it did highlight a very consistent bunch of songs. To be fair, guitar player, and Ginger look-a-like extraordinaire, Linde, plays some very tasty solos.

It says much of the way they have made the song their own that they could play their cover of CHRIS ISAAK’s ‘Wicked Game’ as the second song of the set, the bulk of the set predictably coming from the ‘Lovemetal’ album, ‘Sacrament’, ‘Beyond Redemption’ and ‘This Fortress of Tears’. ‘Razorblade Romance’ was represented by ‘One Last Time’, ‘Right Here In My Arms’ and an excellent ‘Your Sweet Six Six Six’, before closing with the pairing of current UK single ‘The Funeral of Hearts’ and ‘Buried Alive By Love’. In fact ‘Buried…’ was the most exciting song of the night. If only the band had started the set with as much energy and Ville had let the music do the talking instead of indulging in his Eldritch impersonations at the mic, then the overall effect might have been more dynamic. Still, with an album in charts throughout Europe, a single debuting in the UK charts at 15 and a sold out tour, I doubt Ville care’s about such detail. With the exception of the girl stood behind me (“I’ve seen better at the Battle of the Bands”!) few seemed to go home disappointed.

Maybe you can teach an old Goth new tricks after all?

Chris

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HIM/VIKING SKULL - Manchester Academy. Anybody esle go?220 Surfpunk 02/01/2004 07:07AM
Re: HIM/VIKING SKULL - Manchester Academy. Anybody esle go? 111 Gavitzimo 02/01/2004 10:58AM


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