For the first time since 11 November 2017, former HIM frontman Ville Valo was in Detroit and brought along the Icelandic band Kælan Mikla.
The night at Saint Andrew’s Hall in Detroit started with the three-piece Icelandic post-punk band Kælan Mikla. The trio started the night with the very easy-flowing sounds of the almost entirely instrumental song “Kælan Mikla.” As the next song “Stormurinn” began, people started moving with the flow of the music and the dim, strobing blue lights. By the time “Kalt” started, the crowd was getting more expressive with their movements to the almost transcendental dance music.
The band consisted of lead singer, Laufey Soffía, Sólveig Matthildur on the synthesizer, and Margrét Rósa on bass. Many in the crowd really enjoyed the whole set. One person in the audience described them as having “a gothic, doom, witchy sound” and that sound had the audience members enchanted with their performance.
When HIM played their last show in Helsinki on New Year’s Eve 2017, no one knew if they would ever get to hear many of the beloved songs live again. In April 2022, the fans found out there was hope! Ville Valo announced on his social media accounts that there would be a 2023 world tour for his solo band, starting where he left off in Helsinki, Finland. The first show of the world tour was on release day for the new album, Neon Noir.
In addition to singer Ville Valo, the current band members on stage consisted of guitarist Mikko Virta, guitarist Sampo Sundström, bassist Juho Vehmanen, and drummer Risto Rikala. They opened the set with “Echolocate Your Love,” followed by the HIM son, “The Funeral of Hearts” and then “Neon Noir.” In keeping with the pattern of the first three songs, every other song played was an HIM song. These songs included the fan favorites “Right Here in My Arms,” “Buried Alive by Love,” “Wings of a Butterfly,” “Join Me in Death,” “The Kiss of Dawn,” and “When Love and Death Embrace.”
They took a break in the set and had people chanting for one more song. Instead, they came out and gave a four-song encore. It started with the HIM song, “Soul on Fire” followed by “Salute the Sanguine” and “Poison Girl.”
Before the end of the encore, Ville took a pause to thank the audience for “choosing rock n roll over sports.” The show just so happened to fall on a special day in Detroit; it was opening day for the Detroit Tigers baseball team. If you know anything about sports and Detroit, it is that sports, especially the Tigers’ opening day, is a big deal. Choosing to be at a show after a long day of drinking and being outside is a big commitment in this city. He also thanked Kælan Mikla for their “spooky, gloomy, and doomy performance.” They finished the encore with “Saturnine Saturnalia.” Fans left with a sense of nostalgia fulfilled since it had been so very long since the last time they heard these songs live and they all seemed to have a wonderfully wild night.