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After releasing their new album Nine Lives this March, the Von Hertzen Brothers have been busy touring Finnish concert venues. I was at the opening gig of the tour in Salo in March and now in Turku, on the first gig the band played after a short vacation.
Quite a difference between the two gigs! Both were excellent performances and totally enjoyable, but the almost delirious jitters of the first gig of the tour had calmed down to a stadium class rock act that left no room for questions. The band has clearly become comfortable with how the new material works on stage and how the arrangements are at their best. The music ebbed and flowed, thundered and roared… I couldn´t help but think that there was something very organic about the show, as the setlist had been balanced well between new and old material, heavy and serene songs. It was breathing and radiating good energy.
The band played an impressive two hour set, with two full albums´ worth of songs. What really surprised me a bit was that the audience seemed somehow muted throughout the gig. Perhaps it was the terrible heat that had both the band and the audience sweating within two minutes of the beginning of the gig that made the crowd a little less than wild. The band´s performance certainly wasn´t lacking anything. My personal favorite moments included the incredibly haunting Separate Forevers, the wildly pounding Insomniac and the song with the best music video to it in years - the ultimate summer VHB song Always Been Right. Mentioning these doesn´t tell the whole truth, as there are so many songs on the setlist that had me going peanuts.
With the new material it almost seems that the band´s brilliant drummer Mikko Kaakkuriniemi receives even more attention than before. Several of the new songs have extremely strong and complicated (even hypnotic) drum lines and the way the drumming hits your body when you´re in the audience… It´s just brilliant. Combined with the bass lines of Jonne von Hertzen - oh my goodness. It seemed that for the last half of the gig Jonne cranked something up really good, as suddenly I was feeling my innards tremble with the pulsing rhythms of both the bass and the drums even more than during the first half of the gig.
I have to say that every time I see them live, I´m more convinced that their music really needs to be experienced in a live situation. The complex sound world of their music is definitely at its most impressive when you not only hear, but also see and feel the music. And for as long as they´re still doing the medium sized venues, an intimate atmosphere is quickly created and easily enjoyed. I do think they would rock a stadium class venue as well, but to be honest, I think a touch of their unique presence would perhaps be lost.
In any case, I totally enjoyed the gig and will have to see if there´s something before their UK tour in October that I could catch. (Oh, yes, if you are reading this in the UK, do take notice. VHB tour in the UK in October - do not miss them if they are in your town!)
2. Writings on the Wall
4. Flowers and Rust
5. Coming Home
6. Angel´s Eyes
7. Always Been Right
8. Lost in Time
9. Separate Forevers
10. I believe
11. Freedom Fighter
12. Somewhere in the Middle
13. World Without
15. Let Thy Will Be Done
17. Prospect for Escape
& photos Johanna Ahonen, transl. K.Weber
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