September 19, 2023 – MTelus, Montreal
Join Me In The End: The perfect co-headliners
When Black Veil Brides (BvB) and Ville Valo (VV) of HIM announced the co-headlining North American tour presented by Hot Topic, I knew I had to catch my favorite musician of all time (VV) and my newest favorite band (BvB) together. I had been looking forward to the show since it was announced in the spring, and it was thrilling from start to finish. You don’t want to miss this tour!
After the tour was announced, Black Veil Brides released a new song with VV, Temple of Love (a Sisters of Mercy cover), and I was hopeful that they would perform it together. But sadly that was not the case, so if you also thought they would play it together, try not to be too disappointed.
See Also: Beast In Black at Club Soda, Montreal
VIP / BvB Meet & Greet
A few days before the show I decided to spring for a VIP pass in order to meet Black Veil Brides and get in early (knowing VV fans, there was a big lineup to get close to the stage). The pass came with early access (an hour before doors opened), a meet and greet, professional photos, and the Temple of Love single signed by Black Veil Brides. There were roughly 30 people in the VIP line (mostly women) and after a slight delay it moved pretty quickly. The band was lined up against a wall and there was a strict no touching rule. They had a piece of tape on the ground where you could stand and talk to them, and then the band moved up behind you for the photos.
I had a plan for what I would say, but all that went out the window when I got in front of Andy Biersack. My brain defaulted to my love and knowledge of HIM, and that’s all I could talk about. I welcomed them to Canada and asked how it’s been so far, and while I was trying to engage everyone, only Biersack spoke. He said they had been there for four days and everything was great, and then I asked the band how it felt to be on tour with VV. Biersack said that VV changed the vibe of the tour and added a nice change of mood in between two heavier bands, which was also different from their previous Trinity of Terror tour where they played in Montreal in 2022.
I then asked what their favorite HIM albums were (knowing that Biersack has spoken about being inspired by HIM before), and while the other members were smiling, still only Biersack spoke. He said that he’s more of a singles or song person, and that VV plays The Funeral of Hearts on the tour and he likes that one. I was happy because that’s my favorite HIM song! Next he asked if I was ready for a photo, so I spun around and they stood next to me. Biersack looked down and said, “I think you have the same shoes as me.” He’s a very charming and personable man, and at the end of the day he’s a nerd just like most of us who’s happy to talk about the things he loves. It was great to witness him and the rest of the band have fun conversations with his biggest fans, and they even took part in a video call with someone who couldn’t make it. After the photographer took a few photos, I grabbed the single, and then we all headed out. As Biersack and I were walking out of the room, I told him to look for my article in a few days. So if he did, hello!
Doors opened at 5:30 pm, an hour and a half before Dark Divine took the stage to prepare the audience for the headliners. The wait was a bit excessive, but it gave the crowd time to get to know each other. I was at the barricade in the front (best spot in my opinion) and the club filled up but it was still spacious (not a sold out show). I listened to Dark Divine for the first time on the drive up before the show, so this was my real introduction to their sound and spirit. While their set of only eight songs was short, it was mighty. The group of guys from Florida were done up in horror face paint and outfits to match their dark and heavy sound. As horror metal, they would have fit in well on the Trinity of Terror tour with Motionless in White, Ice Nine Kills, and Black Veil Brides.
“Montreal, let me hear you fucking scream,” shouted singer Anthony Martinez after a few songs. While the audience was loud, very few people knew the songs so there wasn’t much singing along. It was their first time playing in Montreal, and the crowd was getting to know them. While a pit never formed, everyone screamed and jumped from start to finish. With a different audience there would have definitely been moshing, but Ville Valo and Andy Biersack drew a predominantly female crowd (loud, energetic, but not violent).
Martinez brought his A game with his cool, dynamic clean vocals and contrasting dark growls. Bandmates Jason Thomas Mueller (guitar), Robby Lynch (guitar), Triston Blaize (drums), and Jarret Robinson (bass) put on a great show as they eerily eyed the crowd while delivering heavy riffs and chest-pounding beats.
After the high energy of Dark Divine, I hugged the bar and waited for VV. Cheers erupted as the Dark Divine set was taken down to reveal the heartagram that would soon glow behind VV. The club packed in tighter as women of all ages waited for the Finnish star to grace the stage in Quebec for the first time in over a decade. Many people didn’t have a chance to see HIM in Toronto on their only Canadian date on the Bang and Whimper farewell tour in 2017, and it was easy to tell by the screams as VV walked out that a large part of the crowd was here for him. He smiled and waved as he walked out and grabbed the mic, and he gave himself a moment to bask in the cheers and screams before jumping into what felt like the shortest hour of my life.
VV sang a mix of new songs off his solo album Neon Noir and top HIM songs from different albums to represent their full lifespan. While the HIM songs had the highest crowd response, his entire set was filled with singing. He seemed delighted to hear us sing his new songs just as well as his old ones. He stopped several times throughout his set to let the crowd sing and we did not disappoint him. While his voice has changed over the years because of age and dental work, he sounded near perfect. Some of the raspier/heavier HIM vocals were harder for him to hit, but no one nails the deep notes like he does. His voice and appearance are vampiric—he puts you in a warm trance where nothing else exists but you and him.
He was backed by an extremely talented Finnish band made up of Mikko Virta (guitar), Risto Rikala (drums), Sampo Sundström (guitar), and Juho Vehmanen (bass). While the crowd was there for VV and the band knew it, their talent shouldn’t be overlooked. Guitarist Virta stole my heart and eyes at times as he stepped forward on stage and delivered flawless riffs, and he even changed a few HIM solos ever so slightly to put his own spin on it.
VV loved making eye contact with fans, smiling, and pointing or nodding/saluting, and in an adorable moment, a random piece of red confetti floated down above him and I pointed up at it. He caught my eye, grabbed the paper, and later put it on a drum. This is the best part about being at the bar in front of the stage, you get such lovely interactions with the performers.
“Thank you very much. It’s a cool place. It’s a cool club, it’s a cool city, cool people. A lot of familiar faces as well,” he said as he looked around at everyone, especially those in the front. It melted my heart when he looked at me, and I like to think he recognized me from the show in Philadelphia in April. “Are you so happy I said hi?” he said as we cheered. While I love to listen to him talk, he knew he only had an hour to perform for us and so he spent the time singing, not chatting.
Black Veil Brides
After another short break with some massive stage changes to allow room for the immense drum kit, benches for everyone to jump on, and lighting, the crowd pressed forward even more in anticipation. I felt like I was back in 2005 seeing HIM for the first time at Metropolis (now MTelus). While their sounds are different, it feels like Black Veil Brides is to this generation as HIM was to mine. The audience was filled with young women talking about how dreamy Biersack is and how much they resonate with the music. His current look even emulates VV’s quite a bit (almost like a younger brother). They both wore all black suits with their chests and tattoos exposed, and they’re known for being strong frontmen for their respective bands, their charisma, and devilishly handsome good looks.
As Black Veil Brides took the stage, the audience erupted with energy and it didn’t settle for the next hour. They played songs from their entire discography to give new fans a taste of who they are and to excite old fans with their early career. While there was moshing and crowd surfing at the Trinity of Terror arena show, the tone of this concert was very different. A pit never formed, but everyone sang most of the songs and jumped and screamed almost endlessly. I always love watching bands from different locations and experiencing them in new ways, and it was nice to enjoy the heavy music and focus on the band rather than fight for my life in a circle pit.
The mic sound for Biersack was way too low for the first few songs, but was quickly fixed after the crew scrambled around the stage. It was disappointing to not be able to hear him very well, because he has such a wonderful, deep voice. Once adjusted, the sound levels were balanced and we could enjoy his full range.
“Are there any old school fans here?” Biersack asked and everyone cheered. He truly seemed to enjoy engaging with the crowd and running back and forth across the stage to acknowledge all of his fans. Jinxx (guitar), Jake Pitts (guitar), Christian Coma (drums), and Lonny Eagleton (bass) were on point with their energy and backing vocals, delivering horror tones, intricate riffs, and the melodies that we all fell in love with. Eagleton had a special message about being in Montreal for the crowd that he delivered in French, to everyone’s delight.
The hour was over far too quickly as they ended on my favorite song of theirs, In The End, leaving my heart and soul buzzing from adrenaline. While I personally think that Black Veil Brides and VV should have done a song together as an encore, having Black Veil Brides close the show after VV‘s more melancholic set was the right choice for the audience. Their dark, atmospheric sounds worked perfectly together as co-headliners, making the show a treat for all fans—be sure to grab your tickets and catch them together!
>> Jinjer at MTelus, Montreal
>> Avenged Sevenfold at Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa
>> RBC Bluesfest come to an end with a performance from The Smile
Dark Divine Setlist
- Run Away
- The Fear
- Paper Crown
- The Reaper
- (Intro) Zener Solitaire
- Echolocate Your Love
- The Funeral of Hearts (HIM song)
- The Foreverlost
- Join Me In Death (HIM song)
- Neon Noir
- The Kiss of Dawn (HIM song)
- Right Here In My Arms (HIM song)
- Heartful of Ghosts
- Wings of a Butterfly (HIM song)
- Run Away From the Sun
- Buried Alive by Love (HIM song)
- Saturnine Saturnalia
Black Veil Brides Setlist
- Crimson Skies
- Rebel Love Song
- Wake Up
- Nobody’s Hero
- Scarlet Cross
- Perfect Weapon
- The Legacy
- Knives and Pens
- Lost It All
- Fallen Angels
- In the End