Venue: The Fillmore NY (New York, NY)
Opener: We Are The Fallen, Dommin, Drive A
Label: Sire Records
In terms of the shows that had been lined up so far for the month, I had to admit that May was certainly trying to deliver a healthy blend of acts for a wide genre demographic of fans. Our own musical month of May began with a bombastic show by Overkill only a week ago and I do not use the term loosely. You see not only was the gig one for the record books, but just outside the venue that night was a failed attempt at terrorist activity upon our fair city and thank the powers that be for watchful eyes and the NYPD. The bomb malfunctioned and the idiot terrorist was quickly apprehended but it was not fun knowing that all of this was going on just above our heads and could have been far, far worse. That being said I was really looking forward to the HIM show as I have made sure to be on point every time he comes to the Big Apple. I did admit a little surprise with his selection of The Fillmore NY as a venue as opposed to the Nokia Theatre this time around but it is a weird time for the music business and every performer is changing up the way they deliver shows to the people. Ville and the boys were celebrating the semi-recent release of “Screamworks: Love In Theory and Practice” which is the bands seventh album and one that is being met with considerable approval. The tour put together for this go round would be an interesting one as it would find We Are The Fallen as direct support and Dommin leading up to them. Kicking the whole night off would be a youthful Punk band called Drive A. Here is how the show we attended went down in case you somehow missed it.
Drive A: With Green Day making their name brighter than ever care of the Broadway stage play “American Idiot”, there seemed to be plenty of room for the young upstarts of the Punk Generation to step in and show us their stuff. That being said, let me please introduce you to Drive A, a traditional-based Punk Rock band made up of four relatively young individuals. Tonight would be my first time seeing them and I was hoping for a lot from them based on some of my informants telling me that they had actually enjoyed them on the occasions that they caught them in the past. They were clearly energetic but I was not getting the same “wow this is awesome” vibe as some of the audience was this evening. I cannot say that age is now a factor in my opinion since I still listen to The Ramones, The Queers and The Damned, so my love of the pure stuff is in place without question. What I felt was going on was that the boys were being obnoxious purely for obnoxious sake. Where I stood there were other naysayers that looked up at the stage and said “shouldn’t they be in bed by now?” and that made me chuckle. My hope is that they dispel a lot of the razorblade language and focus more on incendiary riffs as they get older and hopefully wiser at the craft. Punk while definitely an attitude that is inside you is still a genre that requires a lot more skill than you might think. Had he been alive today, I felt that Joey might have wanted to beat on these brats with baseball bat for taking the easy road. I will remain open minded and see what they deliver next time I catch them. Dommin was up next.
Dommin: If memory serves me well, tonight will mark the third time that I would be catching Dommin doing their thing and I guess that the phrase “the third time’s the charm” rings true since I have not yet grown tired of these somber greasers and their musical output. Since the last time I caught them as opener for The 69 Eyes, the band had finally released their debut album on Roadrunner Records entitled “Love Is Gone” and it’s a recording that a lot of people have been anxious about. With the one full album under their belt, this would be the core of what singer Kris and his band mates would deliver to the packed Fillmore NY venue. They started off with “New” which is a little on the upbeat side and rather catchy as an opener but it’s the signature track of “My Heart Your Hands” that truly brings you into the melancholy vibe that is the core of the bands sound. I love this number and feel that in the live sense it is as crushing as it is emotional. It’s a tune that should really be on the conventional stations that support heavy music so let’s hope this eventually happens. Kris really doesn’t say too much during a show, and is instead focused on his music and the mood that it is generating. There is somewhat of a hypnotic feel going on with the groove that they are laying down and I was finding myself thinking how this was the perfect show for them to be a part of. They would do a couple of other tunes from the recording and also deliver their rendition of Cutting Crew’s “I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight” which I thought was done very well. I once saw them do “People Are People” by Depeche Mode and I feel it’s cool that they are able to successfully bring a classic tune some new life with their own presentation. The album is sound and I feel that many who enjoy the earlier works by HIM would enjoy it. Be sure to check it out when and if you can or at least see them live. Now it was time for We Are The Fallen to take the stage and if you can believe it, I was as excited for them as I was for HIM.
We Are The Fallen: If you are not yet aware about who We Are The Fallen actually is please know that they are the new band founded by former Evanescence guitarist and core songwriter Ben Moody and two other former members of the band in John LeCompt and Rocky Gray. Bass is handled by Marty O’Brien while the vocals are adeptly delivered by former American Idol contestant Carly Smithson. The bands debut is called “Tear The World Down” and while the world would not hear it as a release for a couple of more days, the lucky Metal media had a taste of it and I could say that it was much heavier and more energetic than anything Evanescence had done as a band. This audience was in for a surefire treat tonight that is for sure. The band would hit the stage like a musical hurricane and there was tightness in their delivery that is seldom seen in such a new band. Moody stood to one side of the stage while LeCompt manned the other and between them stood Smithson who commanded the audience with an amazing register. If you though she was good on whatever the hell season of American Idol she was a part of just wait until you see her fronting this group. Clearly her not winning that “talent competition” was not a bad thing at all and she is really putting her pipes to incredible use. The bands material is strong and as I mentioned very energetic. They would open with “Burn” and soon surprise the crowd with a Metalized version of Madonna’s “Like A Prayer”. We stood stunned as this was done but were immediately caught in its rhythm. They were going over like gangbusters that was for sure and from every angle you looked towards; you would find fists pumping into the air in time to the music. “Bury Me Alive” is the bands first single and signature track and while it does bear a slight resemblance to an Evanescence track, this was bound to happen with the bands core songwriter hailing from them. The tune had everyone singing along until breathless and when they continued the surprises with Iron Maiden’s “Flight Of Icarus” there wasn’t a jaw that was not hitting the floor. They would close up their almost 50 minute set with the albums title track and literally leave New York City screaming for more. This was a headlining band in a direct support slot and one that I am sure has a bright and promising future ahead of them. I look forward to seeing them again and to sinking my teeth deeper into their album. Excellent work folks. Truly excellent. After a collective recharging breath it was time for HIM to return to us and close out the night as only they can.
HIM: As I look back on it, I don’t think there was a single US tour that came through NYC for HIM that I have missed. I didn’t go to every area show they did since they often performed two and three nights but I would always make it a point to support them at least once on every tour and I have not regretted a single performance. Historically speaking HIM has usually kept a very similar set list and only made minor changes to allow for some new material, so I was very curious as to what they would dish out this evening. The surprised me by opening up with a new number in “Like St. Valentine” and everyone in the crowd was singing along with Ville as the song played through. The singer couldn’t help but smile as this was happening and he kept that audience working as he led us into “Right Here In My Arms” which has a bit of back and forth with he and the fans. Whew, this show was off to a good start and continued with “(Rip Out The) Wings Of A Butterfly” from their “Dark Light” album. I love this track along with “Vampire Heart” but we would not get this one tonight and I was okay with that if it meant something surprising. Ville was sporting a suit tonight and also a woolen hat of some kind which he left in place for the entire show. One would think that the singer was having a bad hair day and trying to conceal it from his admirers. “Love The Hardest Way” was the second new tune presented to the crowd and it was a good preamble for the always mesmerizing “Join Me In Death” which the audience helps Ville out with especially at the end when they take over.
“Heartkiller” was considered to be the new albums big single and a lot of push was behind this one. I had to say that at first listen I did not like the tune, but after a couple of spins I felt it to be a very strong track. Ville usually talks to the crowd but this evening was not as chatty as he had been on other occasions and that was fine by me since I prefer to hear songs as opposed to banter. With “Wicked Game” being the next tune on the menu, he would pause to dedicate the number to one of NYC’s own fallen Metal heroes, the mighty Pete Steele who had passed away only three or so weeks ago. Ville mentioned how the band was a big influence to him and that he will miss him very much. The audience exploded at this. The tune of course was rock solid. In total the band would deliver five new songs and that made them need to clear some space in the usually chock full of oldies set list. They did do “Poison Girl” which I don’t remember them doing last time around but I could be mistaken, and also “Buried Alive By Love” which rocks in the live sense. Gone was “Your Sweet 666” and “Fortress Of Tears” but that was okay, I am sure we shall hear them again. It was a brave move to do so much new stuff, but I didn’t actually mind the difference and felt the whole set list was a refreshing change of pace. HIM is not a nostalgia act that is stuck playing a strong gamut of tunes each and every time they play and by doing it this way they managed to give their audience something much different from the last tour. That’s never a bad thing.
They slowed down towards the end to do “Scared To Death” which is a pleasant sounding tune but not too energetic and then it was time to leave NYC with another surprise. The band would pull out of its archives their rousing version of Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” which Ville announced as being a tune by William Broad (the singers real name). The whole venue was moving for this one and chanting “More, More, More” during the chorus when it called for it to be done and that was it. Another successful invasion by one of the hottest Finnish musical exports going. I had to admit I had little energy when this one was over it was that good. My only criticism was that they did not give “In Venere Veritas” a test run in the live sense since I love that tune and felt it could have worked out rather well. Maybe the next time around they will do it. It was interesting to observe that almost the whole room was singing their songs from beginning to end during the show and yet you never hear this band on the radio nor find them even mentioned on popular shows catering to the genre of Heavy Rock. Something is clearly wrong with this picture but despite this, the show pressed on for a very hungry and sold out crowd. Tonight was the first of three nights in NYC and tomorrow was also sold out long in advance. I was not sure about Sunday’s gig but I would not be at either of these since I had the Accept show on Saturday, and Michael Monroe on Sunday. Either way, I was discussing the show with friends as soon as it ended and all were in agreement that this performance was one of the best we had ever seen over the years of supporting them. Everyone in the group was on point, so kudos as well to Linde, Gas, Mige and Burton for making this whole thing sound all the more exceptional.
This was an amazing night of music that served up a number of different styles to a very diverse crowd. Yes I had some issue with Drive A but they are young and still have time to work on it. Dommin was at their brooding best and We Are The Fallen simply killed it. HIM was just as I said they were and probably the best in years. Another thing that was very cool about today was the fact that before the show began, many member of HIM and Dommin were meeting fans at Bar 19 around the corner from the venue. They were spinning the new Dommin “Love Is Gone” CD and also the side project by the guys in HIM called Daniel Lioneye. Their album is called “Vol. II” and the group consists of Linde and Burton among others. Ville was not present of course but everyone else was and enjoyed the company of their fans and let them take even more special memories home after the show had completed.
WATF Set List:
2. Without You
3. Like A Prayer (Madonna cover)
4. Don’t Leave Me Behind
5. St. John Play
6. Bury Me Alive
8. I Am Only One
9. Flight of Icarus (Iron Maiden cover)
10. Tear The World Down
HIM Set List:
1. Like St. Valentine
2. Right Here in My Arms
3. Wings of a Butterfly
4. Love the Hardest Way
5. The Kiss of Dawn
6. Join Me (In Death)
8. Wicked Game
9. Bleed Well
10. Disarm Me [With Your Loneliness]
11. Buried Alive by Love
12. Poison Girl
13. Killing Loneliness
14. Funeral of Hearts
15. Scared to Death
16. Rebel Yell
I didn’t seem to have the opportunity to share any of the other collective strangeness or fun that I sometimes find around me at shows this time around, but there was an instance where some people in the audience were tossing things onto the stage. This was during the break before Ville and the rest of the guys in HIM would knock us all out with their melodies. I couldn’t see properly from my vantage point, but zooming in saw that it was this.
It appeared to be a small frog with a happy grin on his face. I am not sure how this applied to the band or the show for that matter but at least the little jasper was glad to be here with the rest of us.