Review: James Rich
Photos: Libbi Rich
Editor: Joe Abbruscato
HIM kicked off their final “Bang and Whimper” tour Monday, October 23rd, at the recently opened and phenomenal Phoenix Van Buren. The culmination of more than 25 years of gothic Finnish metal drew hundreds of Arizona-based fans, packing the house for an intense night of memories new and old.
The evening was opened by 3Teeth and CKY. The audience was engaged long before the headliner appeared, screaming and shouting for both bands. It was obvious that both had their own dedicated followers in the crowd, but regardless who showed up for what band, the entire crowd rocked out in support of the music regardless. 3Teeth got the audience going and CKY took that energy and carried it through their entire set. Tension audibly built at every mention of HIM. By the time CKY exited the stage, the room was vibrating with palpable energy.
Then HIM took the stage. The mass of people gathered in The Van Buren compacted at once, crushing towards the stage; everyone was vying for a front-row spot, going absolutely nuts for the band many had come to see.
Each musician was at the top of their game and brought fresh passion to a variety of songs, new and old. HIM was dedicated to their massive back catalog, and their prowess on stage was matched only by the enthusiasm of the tightly-packed crowd. Energy bounced between stage and audience, a comfortable push-and-pull of music and respect. The music was still somewhat audible over the hundreds of people singing and shouting their way through songs known by everyone by heart.
The audience was just as pumped for both encores as they had been for HIM’s first appearance. Their encore included much beloved tracks (Stigmata Diaboli and When Love and Death Embrace), and they capped out the night with a raucous cover of Billy Idol’s classic “Rebel Yell”. It was the perfect end to an incredible set.
The concert blinked by in a flash, a moment captured and suspended in all attendees hearts. HIM gracefully left the stage as the house lighting returned, leaving the audience overwhelmed and overjoyed. Everyone knew this would be one of the last shows HIM will ever put on, but they brought as much enthusiasm as if the band would never leave.