It's no easy feat following Gary Numan, but HIM do so effortlessly.
Sonisphere 2014: HIM
Venue: Sonisphere, Knebworth
Ville Valo's gang come to the main stage
Gracing the Apollo stage as the sun continues to blaze are Finnish rockers HIM, who get right down to it and kick off their set of heartfelt, doomy rock ‘n’ roll with fan favourite Buried Alive By Love. As characteristically quiet in between songs as usual, the charismatic Ville Valo is however totally at ease, pulling faces at bassist Migé, beaming widely at his adoring fans and - at the risk of sounding like his mum - probably fucking roasting underneath his trademark black hat and hoodie. Seriously, it’s hot as balls out here. The band’s set is surprisingly free of songs from their latest effort Tears On Tape, with the exception of album track No Love, which nevertheless goes down well despite fewer people being able to sing along.
While it’s a bit jarring seeing them out of the dark and in the harsh sunlight, they pull it off simply by playing a string of their catchier hits that everyone knows. Drawing on their best material from over the years, these guys know what works - from Dark Light’s hooky Wings Of A Butterfly to the bittersweet Your Sweet Six Six Six, they also showcase the doomier, Sabbath-influenced side to their sound when they incorporate the riff from the excellent When Love Starts To Die slap bang in the middle of a cover of Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game. Apparently saving us from “three minutes of distorted ‘I love you’s” when they’re forced to cut a song from the set, they make up for it with a gorgeous rendition of classic HIM track The Funeral Of Hearts, during which Ville barely needed his mic at all due to the volume of the fans. The sense that many a gothic heart is breaking as he exits the stage is palpable, but they’ve ended on a high.