VILLE VALO (A Parent's Perspective) Show Review
Earlier this year, Finnish "love metal" pioneer VILLE VALO of the band H.I.M. announced his debut solo album NEON NOIR which is out now everywhere via Heartagram Records and was distributed by UMG/Spinefarm. Soon following the record Valo announced a full-fledged US and UK/EU tour to support the album which hit major cities including Helsinki Finland, Paris, Munich, London, Glasgow, and more overseas and major US cities including Dallas, San Diego, Las Vegas, Las Angeles and more.
Tuesday, April 4th, 2023. The "love metal" rocker rolled into the city of Pittsburgh, PA to the Roxian Theatre located in McKees Rocks PA, just outside of Pittsburgh, also accompanied by opening act, Iceland's Kaelan Mikla. This was the band's fourth show in the US since the tour started and it was also the first day of the tour featuring the aforementioned Kaelan Mikla. In my nearly 25 years of going to concerts, I've only seen the band H.I.M. once which was around 13 years ago at Club Zoo which has sadly been closed for years now.
Growing up, the band H.I.M. became synonymous with the punk rock and metal culture that I so loved and was brought up on in the early 2000s. It's almost impossible to talk about Ville Valo without the influence of such TV and movies as CKY, Jackass, Viva La Bam, and let's face it, Bam Margera himself. Going to this show, was needless to say a childhood dream come true.
At around 7:00 PM the doors opened to the Roxian Theatre. The weather was bright, sunny, and clear all day without a cloud in the sky, which was perfect for the outdoor show though we would be moving indoors. As I pulled up to the venue, the crowds were already lined up around the corner daunting the infamous Heartagram logo, Valo's face, and other H.I.M. merchandise throughout the years. The diehard fans were seen flaunting their Heartagram tattoos, lyrics and even album covers on their skin. I felt, at home.
The Icelandic Princesses of the opening act, Kaelan Mikla started their set with the most angelic, melancholic mood music that I've ever heard featuring a 3 piece act of one on bass guitar and backing vocals, one on keyboards and flute as well as a lead singer with a backing track. Their music is unlike anything that I have ever heard before and it really set the mood for what was to come. It was beautiful, haunting, and mesmerizing all at the same time. You can check them out here: https://www.kaelanmikla.com/
After a brief intermission, and a ton of early 2000s nostalgic emo music on the PA system, the one, and only VILLE VALO hit the stage. The lead singer took the stage last after the band emerged from backstage to an abrupt screaming Pittsburgh audience. Angelic music played over the PA kicking off Valo's opening track "Echolate Your Love" from his aforementioned debut solo album Neon Noir.
Wasting little to no time between tracks the band kicked into a H.I.M. "The Funeral of Hearts" from the band's Love Metal album. I must admit, being a long-time avid fan, I got choked up hearing the opening lyrics to that track. Valo burst into the title track from his debut album "Neon Noir" before jumping back into some nostalgic H.I.M. with "Right Here in My Arms" from their Razorblade Romance album, which for me was the album that started it all.
The set in my opinion was the perfect mix of old and new as the band and Valo jumped back and forth between Neon Noir tracks and nostalgic H.I.M. tunes including Loveletting from Neon Noir followed by Buried Alive by Love from Love Metal into In Trenodia back into another H.I.M. track Wings of a Butterfly from 2005's Dark Light album.
It was amazing to see fans singing along to not only the old but the new tracks, including the first single from Neon Noir "The Foreverlost" which is by far my favorite track from the new solo record. Prior to that, the biggest crowd pop from the night had to go to the opening piano riff to a H.I.M. cover "Join Me In Death" from the Razorblade Romance album. That song took me back to so many nights skateboarding in my angsty teen years, and I could see on the faces of fans in the audience that they were also lost in their own nostalgic past.
Valo ended the set with another solo song, "Run Away From The Sun" and two more H.I.M. tracks, "The Kiss of Dawn" from the Venus Doom album and "When Love and Death Embrace" a huge throwback to one of their first albums "Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 666" before exiting the stage.
The house lights didn't come on as they usually do so fans knew they were in for an epic encore, and we were not disappointed. Valo and the band reemerged to the stage to a huge Pittsburgh crowd screaming "Valo, Valo, Valo" opening their encore set with "Soul On Fire" from H.I.M.'s Love Metal album.
Not breaking away from the pattern, Valo busted into Salute the Sanguine from his Neon Noir album, afterward talking to the crowd for the first time all night thanking them profusely for the continued love and support while also introducing the solo project band each member at a time. He finished out the night with a classic H.I.M. song "Poison Girl" from the Razorblade Romance album followed by "Saturnine Saturnalia" from the Neon Noir solo record. Thanking all of the fans for their love and support one more time before a final bow and exiting the stage after what was a stellar nearly over an hour set.
I'm so lucky to have seen Ville Valo in my hometown of Pittsburgh, after over a decade of H.I.M. not coming to Pittsburgh as well as the band's indefinite hiatus/ breakup in 2017, I honestly thought I'd never see Valo or hear those songs live ever again. From the old to the new music, Valo's neverending ability to draw a crowd in and make them feel loved and sad at the same time never ceases to amaze me. His writing has aged like a fine wine and I, as well as many other fans, can hopefully agree that this is only the beginning.
VILLE VALO is on tour now. Check out a full photo gallery of the show as well as tour dates and band info below!
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