Back in 1980, a little band by the name of The Undertones played the first ever show put on by a venue calling itself Rock City...now...35 years later, this club at the heart of Nottingham has become one of the most iconic venues in the UK. Whether you're an unsigned, up-and-coming performer, or an established chart-conquering band of any genre, Rock City (a winner of the Kerrang! "Venue Of The Year" award for 10 consecutive years) is THE place to play. Tonight, celebrating it's 35th anniversary, they've put on something very special indeed; playing their only UK show of 2015, Finland's favourite romantic rockers HIM are here to round off the year the best way they know how...by putting the "rock" in Rock City. Here's what went down...
Given the level of loyalty you will find in any true HIM fan, the queue for tonight's gig is already forming around 8am, which, for the end of December, is beyond committed. Having been sold out for months now, it's no wonder that fans are eager to get up close to their heroes and are willing to wait for hours on end, some have even flown in from mainland Europe for this extra festive treat. There's much talk of the potential set list and the possibility of a support slot as really, very little has been said or advertised. Eventually, it is announced that support tonight will be provided by EMPIRE .
The 5-piece from the South West of England are given a half an hour opening slot and damn do they make the very most of every single second they have to play with. Vocalist Joe Green has a phenomenal set of pipes and carries the bands blend of alternative indie-rock to the upper echelons of the genre. His vocal range both unexpected and impressive, he belts out tracks such as "All The Range" off of debut mini album "Where The World Begins" and new single "Patchwork And Bone" with a clarity that can only be respected. The band are tight and as a whole, Empire (EMP!RE if you want to be specific) do a superb job. Definitely ones to watch.
Photo Credit: Em Coulter
Finally then, it's the moment this jam-packed venue has been waiting for...one by one, the members of HIM  make their way on to the stage to rapturous applause. Familiar faces Linde, Burton and Mige are all greeted like old friends...new drummer Jukka making his first UK appearance tonight gets a welcoming reception and then of course, last but by no means least, Ville Valo strolls out from the darkness and is met with a cacophony of emotionally charged cheers from the swelling crowd. Wasting no time they erupt into 2003 hit "Buried Alive By Love" and are unrelenting from the word go.
With hit after hit they spoil the Nottingham crowd, fleeting between their entire catalog spanning two decades...chart hit "Wings Of A Butterfly", their iconic cover of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game", the beautiful ballad driven "Heartache Every Moment"...all raise the roof with each and every fan singing every single word right back at them and it's an incredible atmosphere. There are a few minor hiccups...Valo momentarily forgets some lyrics to "Soul On Fire" mid song, and during the despair riddled "When Love And Death Embrace" there is a spot of bother in the crowd with security needing to step in...but as a whole the night has been as close to perfect as it could be. Finishing up then with a rare cover of Billy Idol hit "Rebel Yell"...Rock City's 35th anniversary comes to an end in emphatic style and HIM, triumphant as ever, disappear into the night to prepare themselves for their annual Helldone shows in Finland. As the crowd disperses, there's not a single unhappy face to be seen...thank you Nottingham, and thank you HIM.
Onnellista uutta vuotta!
Photo Credit: Izzy Speed