By David O’Neill
Sometimes you come across a band in unexpected circumstances and you are instantaneously transfixed in admiration and awe at the artistry and technical ability of the protagonists.
The Von Hertzen Brothers are one such band. My first experience was at Steelhouse Festival in August 2016. On the top of an unusually sunny mountaintop in South Wales Mikko, Kie, Jonne, Mikko Kaakkuriniemi on drums and Juha Kuoppala on keyboards absolutely blew me away. So much so that I have seen them on every ÜK tour since then including Download, The Fleece and I was one of the crowd in Thekla in Bristol in 2022 who suggested another trip to Steelhouse which fan power made happen later that same year and lastly at Planet Rock’s Rockstock in November last year..
Following on from the release of ‘Red Alert In The Blue Forest‘ this was another triumphant return to the mountaintop and they were also incredibly well received by the Planet Rock fans. The dizzying heights of Mikko’s vocals are unique, the harmonies of the other members in the band are breath-taking. Kie’s compositions are spinechilling, especially ‘All Of A Sudden You’re Gone’.
Despite this recording obviously containing Finnish crowd interaction from Mikko, the songs are all written and performed as any of the tracks would be so there is no language barrier to overcome for the non-Scandinavian fan members.
This whole album is a complete tour de force of what anyone who has seen the brothers live know and love. It is a 13 track auditory thrill for any music fan. The style is uniquely everything you could wish for in a live performance from such accomplished musicians with over a 20 year back catalogue of powerful and emotively connected tracks.
It is without doubt a demonstration of everything that “prog” music has been known for since the heady days of the late 1960’s. However, it represents a significant body of work that is connected to the significant social issues of the past 20 years. Steeped in a background of folk music the brothers achieve a rise and fall in everytrack that is truly awe inspiring.
I know every time I have seen them live and bought an album, I am hooked from the very first note and this is no exception.
Kicking off with ‘Day Of Reckoning’ from ‘Red Alert…’, I was, as I said hooked. This entire album is one of those to be listened to in a darkened room through headphones, much akin to ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’. The reason for the headphones (noise cancelling high quality ones if you can) is to appreciate every note, nuance and the implication of meaning.
The audio mix is incredible for a live recording. Every instrument every note, every breathy vocal is allowed its own space, which is complicated enough in a recording studio but to achieve this from a live recording is nothing short of miraculous. This is patently obvious in ‘Peace Patrol’ but even harder in the more upbeat ‘You Don’t Know My Name’ but still readily achieved.
This has to have been the most enjoyable 84 minutes listening of any music this year for me so far and I have music on nearly all day everyday. I really cant wait for the triumphant return of the brothers to the ÜK shores. I know me and my trusty DSLRs will be front and centre repping Über Rockers and the Peace Patrollers everywhere.
- ‘Live At Tavastia‘ is released on Friday (16 February).
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