VILLE VALO Live! – in Dallas, Texas w/ Kaelan Mikla

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Ville Valo

Some of the greatest music in the world is inspired by what makes our hearts beat faster.  For Ville Valo, inspiration struck at an early age with the likes of Black Sabbath and Type O Negative.  In an effort to keep his favorite bands alive, he partnered with his childhood friend Mikko “Mige” Paananen to redirect the hard rock sounds into ballads.  After cultivating a cult following in their homeland of Helsinki, Finland their band HIM was destined to take over the world by blurring the lines between alternative, goth, and hard rock with a genre that they dubbed “love metal.”  For over 20 years they garnished critical acclaim, sold over 8 million records, and shared their love affair with the dark worldwide.

It was all tears when the band called it quits on their Farewell Tour in 2017, but 2023 is the year that Valo decided it was time to unearth a new chapter.  Instead of burning bridges, a common thread when ex-band members kick off a solo career, Valo dedicates this tour to building a bridge between the echoing past of HIM and the future.  It’s very apparent that fans are selling out venues, not only to hear the newest tracks, but for the history that HIM represented with their era-defining studio releases that will be played seamlessly together with the new Neon Noir album tracks.  Positive feedback has taken over social media platforms regarding a certain level of respect for the Neon Noir Tour and Valo as an artist.  They are allowing him to shed his skin, without losing the identity of the man that has graced stages and stereos around the globe since 1991.

Kaelan Mikla’s Laufey Soffía

The House of Blues in Dallas, Texas is filled to the brim with fans of all ages, styled in VV and HIM merchandise alike.  Those not already adorned with the signature Heartagram are lined up around the building and down the stairs waiting to break into the fandom, or continue on with His Infernal Majesty’s legacy.  Long before the show is scheduled to begin, the crowd pushes against the barrier with buzzing energy.  And when the lights fall to introduce the opening band, the excitement only escalates.

Icelandic post-punk and darkwave trio Kælan Mikla mystically begins the show.  The stage is draped in dim purple and blue light as the sound of synths take over the ambient noise of the venue.  The women glide onto the stage with a dark-feminine fashion aesthetic and painted eyes reminiscent to black metal corpse paint.  Ethereal vocals by lead singer Laufey Soffía are complemented with layered synthesizer sounds from Sólveig Matthildur Kristjánsdóttir, ominous bass from bassist Margrét Rósa Dóru-Harrýsdóttir and a backing track to add more atmosphere to their instrumentals. As their set continues, the eerie essence turns the entertainment factor up a level with Kristjánsdóttir incorporating the flute into her stage performance.  In-between vocals and bone-chilling screams, Soffia bewitchingly dances around the stage and has the crowd floating in folklore.  The low-lighting remains until the very last note, but the darkness is a perfect introduction to the explosion that is about to detonate.

Sampo Sundström

Songs from the late 90’s and early 2000’s are heard in the background as concertgoers await the Sacrament.  The stage remains dark until a neon pink light creeps onto the stage with the bright-white Heartagram illuminating the drum kit.  HIM devotees will notice that the iconic symbol has changed form with an extra line.  In previous interviews Valo exclaimed, “What an exquisite line it is! It’s the Mamas and the Papas dressed up as Metallica on their way to a Halloween bash at the Studio 54, and now who wouldn’t want to witness that?”  Clearly, the city of Dallas wanted to bear witness to the evolution, because when the band saunters onto the stage sweet pandemonium breaks out across the venue.  The soaring sound of Echolocate Your Love fills the large room and Valo takes his place front and center.  He immediately submerges the crowd into the fever dream of his legacy.  Softly launching into the vocals, the unique fusion of instrumentals holds the weight of the opening song.  Mikko Virta and Sampo Sundström compliment Valo’s tempo and range on their guitars, while Risto Rikala on drums and Juho Vehmanen on bass solidify the overall sound and atmosphere.  As the first song closes a smile is plastered on Valo’s face and only grows when the intro to Poison Girl has the crowd in the palms of his hands.  

Ville Valo

Although Valo does not strut the entire stage during his performance, he completely captivates you with his wide range of vocals and crooning serenade that makes it hard to look away.  This is accentuated in The Foreverlost and obvious fan-favorite Right Here In My Arms.  The touch of glam rock influence shines through on the HIM classic and keeps the soul-spinning momentum at an all time high.  But the song Loveletting pulls the speed back into a mellow dream-like state.  The lyrical content equipped with Valo’s lament encourages fans to close their eyes and feel the song with an intensity that tugs right at your heartstrings.  From there the set takes you on a journey that aches with a sense of bittersweet melancholy.  Songs ranging from Buried Alive By Love to Heartful of Ghosts keep the crowd dancing and singing along.  It is hard not to miss the feel of a live keyboard during most of the songs, but Valo is sure to sweet talk his way back to you with his falsettos and piercing eyes.

A real highlight of the evening is the title track to his latest album Neon Noir.  Its emotionally charged vibrance is suitably dark with an evocative yet anthemic feel that haunts you long after the last sultry line is sung.  Neon Noir is followed by The Kiss of Dawn which is a heavy rumble into a melodic chorus that tingles down your spine.  The energy of the crowd only builds from here with screaming guitar solo appearances and a light show that flows into what everyone hopes is not the last song of the evening.  Hands fly into heart shapes as the crowd begs for one more song.  A red light consumes the stage and the band is eager to oblige the requests.  A provocative guitar riff sends the fans into oblivion as the rest of the band follows suit in a grinding and moving soundscape.  Valo appears with his hand over his heart and delivers them a handful of infectious favorites to feed the encore.  Gratitude can be felt radiating from both the stage and crowd as the lights turn on and Valo begins to thank everyone for supporting his new venture.  He notes that he sees quite a few familiar faces that must’ve missed the funeral rites in 2017, but that he is happy to have old and new faces at “the first communion for this devil child of a band”. 

CLICK HERE to view photo gallery of VILLE VALO.

CLICK HERE to view photo gallery of KAELAN MIKLA.

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