Photo by Vilma Timonen

A visual and musical act: Report from Von Hertzen Brothers live at Tavastia, Helsinki 10.02

Author John Wins - 17.2.2023

The queue was long outside Tavastia on a Friday night in the cold winter of February. Fans of the three most iconic Finnish brothers were patiently waiting while the musicians were getting ready to play, but the atmosphere in the backstage was calm.

Genuinely kind and polite, Mikko Von Hertzen welcomes Chaoszine for a chat an hour before Von Hertzen Brothers hits the stage. Jonne drinks coffee, Kie talks to the camera operators to check that everything happens as planned while Mikko goes through his thoughts about the band’s current moment, visuals and the upcoming plans. The energy that the three emanate is absolute tranquility and very artistic.

Still promoting their latest album, the singer, composer and guitarist comments about it:

The new album was a really good addition to what we have done before. It is more introspective, calm and looking around what’s happening in the world.

Mikko Von Hertzen
Photo by Vilma Timonen

Back to showtime, there’s a small delay of five minutes. With lowlights that look like curtains in shades of blue, one by one the members enter the stage with a dissonant and interesting sound in the background. It was the prelude to a great night.

The sequel with “Day Of Reckoning” and “Blue Forest” from the latest studio work, the excellent “Red Alert in the Blue Forest” from 2022, goes through the psychedelia of red lights on stage, percussion moments, precise drums of the legend Sami Kuoppamäki and the strong presence of the trio shining under the spotlight.

The hit “Flowers and Rust” has the subtlety of Mikko’s hand movements while reciting the song’s verses, but he also orchestrates the audience’s arms synchronized to add more beauty to the show. “Frozen Butterflies” is one of the most energetic performances of the night, but at the same time it demands a huge concentration from the musicians. The reason why everything should work perfectly on that night was announced by the band, who revealed that they are recording the concert on video, which was noticeable by the professionals spread across a sold-out Tavastia.

Talking about the venue, Mikko mentioned how such a legendary place is important during our chat earlier that night:

Tavastia is the capital of Rock N’ Roll in Finland. The goal for everyone is to play here, not only people from Helsinki, but all over Finland. If they get to the capital to play Tavastia, they know they’ve reached some kind of level of something. Those memories (of playing here for the first time) they do come back in a nice way. Every time is special when you play here.

Mikko Von Hertzen

The grandeur of the instrumental part of “Jerusalem” is visible in several aspects: Kie’s solo, Jonne’s groovy bass and another impeccable work by Sami on the drums. One of the gems of the night was “Trouble”, rarely played live, with an incredible work by Robert Engstrand on the keyboards, letting the band sound very heavy on their unique performance.

“You Don’t Know My Name” is another good example of how tight this current VHZ lineup is. Sami and Robert add a lot of quality to the main trio, but beyond the music, the visuals of the night is also an important part of the gig. Lights that emulate many of the nuances of the setlist, for example during “Northern Lights” with its green style. Mikko jokes that many fans visit Finland in search of the beautiful lights in the sky, but if you haven’t seen it yet “now you can hear it”, he laughs before playing the referenced song.

Another known skill of the brothers’ career is the harmony of voices and melodies that complement each other. “New Day Rising” from the album of the same name exemplifies this quality and vocal harmony with great intensity.

The setlist was close to reach such an amazing moment, which Mikko shared his thoughts about the upcoming song in the colored backstage of Tavastia. While eating a piece of tangerine, he says:

It was written during the pandemic and it tells how life can be very sudden, how things can change very suddenly.

Mikko Von Hertzen
Photo by Vilma Timonen

And then the most emotional moment of the night happened during “All Of a Sudden, You’re Gone”, which in addition to having one of the best music videos of recent times, also has a lot of emotion in its verses and melody. In the video it is possible to see people feeling a memento mori experience, but in the audience this feeling had a different perspective with the same meaning. With hundreds of cell phones with their flashlights on, making the whole venue beautifully shine, it was possible to see some of these screens with their wallpapers visible, with photos of their children, partners and pets. A simple and true way of showing that life is much better when surrounded by those you truly love.

Still talking about feeling connected by a song that can make you travel inside yourself, Mikko added earlier:

We write in a very visual way. Even the composing is meant to take that person to a certain location. Whether is a close room where you are within four walls or whether it is on the top of a mountain where you can see from miles and miles.

Mikko Von Hertzen

“The Promise” dried our tears with Kie nicely playing mandolin in a folk mood while “Freedom Fighter” had a great prog ending, with Sami and Jonne being very groovy. Mikko took a moment thanking the crew at the show before leading the fan choir once more, this one for “Sunday Child”.

By the way, the vocal performance of the middle brother in “Peace Patrol” is excellent, as well as the mesmerizing instrumental ending, highlighting the work of Kie and Robert. The final act of part one was done.

After a few minutes the band returns for the encore. “Long Lost Sailor” has a beautiful acapella intro and again shows how pleasant it is to witness a VHZ concert. The last song of the night is one of the classics of the group’s career, the prog “Let Thy Will Be Done”, which gains more colors with the introduction of each musician and a small jam during its execution.

With Tavastia emptying out, after the band’s good night, it’s remarkable to see smiles on the faces of the fans, who hug each other, buy merchandise or simply celebrate life with drinks and the certainty that they will sleep well after an overdose of the best quality art. If you get a chance to see these guys live, do your soul a favor and go. A visual and musical trip doesn’t happen every day, but it’s guaranteed in a show of this family.

About the future, Mikko shares his final thoughts

We’re going to concentrate on songwriting now that we don’t have any more shows this winter. Kie willl go through the footage of today’s recording. Summer we have some gigs and most probably we’re hitting the studio in September. That’s the plan at least, let’s see how it goes.

Mikko Von Hertzen

The musician smiles, finishes his last piece of fruit and start getting ready for a special show. Spoiler: yeah, you already know it was! ;)