Ville Valo – Powerstation: March 13, 2024 (Concert Review)

Ville Valo, aka VV, aka former leader of Finnish goth-metal band HIM brought his live show to Auckland’s Powerstation last night where a smallish crowd of biggish fans was made very happy.

Ville founded HIM, aka His Infernal Majesty in Helsinki way back in 1991 and, despite numerous personnel changes, health issues, auto accidents and record label meddling, has gone on to become on of Finland’s greatest musical exports selling over 10 million records world-wide.

Their style has been called everything from doom metal to love metal. What I heard last night was loud, heavy and melodic.

Ville ValoThe band finally split for good in 2017 and Ville began his solo career as VV a couple of years later, eventually releasing the album Neon Noir in January of 2023. Now Ville seems to be moving on to something new, advertising this current tour as the “closing of the Neon Noir chapter”. What that means remains to be seen, but what we heard last night was a man and a band with a 30 year legacy of music who can still make fans shriek with glee.

And that’s just what they did, just after 9:30pm as VV and band (Mikko Virta and Sampo Sundstrom/guitars, Risto Rikala/drums and Juho Vehmanen/bass) took the stage. The Powerstation was just over half full, but the crowd made it sound full as they set off with Zener Solitaire and Echolocate Your Love, both from the new album.

The band sounded strong although Ville’s vocals were a little low in the mix, possibly because it seemed he may have been battling flu symptoms and needed to pace himself. No matter, the crowd took up the slack, particularly the female members of the audience, singing along passionately to new and old songs alike.

The setlist was peppered with old favourites such as Buried Alive By Love, Gone With The Sin and Join Me In Death, the 1997 single that got the ball rolling for HIM. And the entire Neon Noir album was played save one tune (Vertigo Eyes)

By the time 11pm rolled around, Ville had the crowd in the palm of his hand, closing out the 4-song encore with HIM classic, When Love and Death Embrace.

Granted, the song titled do sound macabre, but I can tell you the vibe was anything but as both the band and the audience were clearly enjoying themselves.

Opening the show was Wellington post-punk duo Breached who did a fine job of setting the mood with their Joy Division inspired vocals, but I couldn’t help think that they would be better off with a full band, rather than two guys and backing tracks. That said, we’ll keep an ear out for their debut release due later this year.

Marty Duda

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