Photo by Ville Laine

An acoustic evening with Von Hertzen Brothers – live at Sellosali, Espoo 16.11.

Author John Wins - 21.11.2023

When Von Hertzen Brothers announced an acoustic tour, expectations were high, as the trio has always been known for their energy on stage and their impressive skills with electric instruments. After 10 shows of this tour in Finnish lands, Espoo had the mission to receive the final act and witness what kind of magic they’ve been doing in its musical form.

It was 21:00 when the lights inside Sellosali went dark, then four spotlights pointed towards the three brothers and the guest touring musician Markus Pajakkala; who accompanied the band on this more intimate live experience. The introduction took place with a few words from Mikko Von Hertzen, who said that the night would be divided between the acoustic performance and stories of some of these songs.

The first song of the night took us back 22 years with Immortal Life from their first studio album “Experience”, with a trumpet arrangement beautifully done by Pajakkala. On In Your Arms, it was possible to hear one of the greatest qualities of the Von Hertzen family: the way their voices complement each other and fill each single voice.

The spiral lights were a good visual addition during Kiss a Wish, where it was also possible to see that even after so many years, Mikko is still a very skilled drummer. Once again another beautiful arrangement of Markus, this time using a clarinet.

The live experience of a VHB show is a constant exchange of energy and interaction, but despite the musicians being seated on this acoustic tour, the stage presence remains just as strong. In Freedom Fighter, for example, at one moment we are at a rock concert and at the same time the choirs take us to a mass. A musical journey inside a single song!

The instrumental quality of the four musicians is evident beyond the prog/rock, like in the “flamenco” moment in which Kie Von Hertzen sings Spanish 411 from the album “Love Remains the Same“, but the most speechless moment of the night was about to happen…

In life we will find many songs that give us goosebumps, but there are songs that speak straight to our soul and All Of a Sudden, You’re Gone is one of those. The acoustic version not only showcased Mikko’s voice, but enhanced all the emotion of the verses in a sublime way that its message was echoed in the venue. The first row of fans doing the same “hooray” gesture from the music video was just the icing on the cake.

The only cover of the set was for the song Höstvisa, in which Mikko took over the keys for the first time of the night. Jonne may seem discreet and not so talkative, but he is an exceptional musician, always keeping the groove flowing, like in Dreamworld, when Kie wanders around the keys and guitar, delivering an even folkier version than the original.

A short break “interrupted” the first act of the night and after a few minutes the quartet was back to insert a jazz moment that culminated with World Without from the 2013 album “Nine Lives”. In One May Never Know the voices of the four musicians highlight the beauty of melodies that complement each other.

There is laughter and joy during the stories between the setlist, but there is also interaction during the tracks, as in Dreams, which features Kie again on vocals, but leaves Mikko free to create a funny connection with the audience. Speaking of Mikko, what a fantastic performance in Jerusalem, in which Pajakkala’s versatility also shines, who this time uses a saxophone for the iconic song.

When the lights changed from red to blue, the reference could only be to the trio’s most recent studio work. Söderskär, featured on the album Red Alert in the Blue Forest, had an intimate arrangement that gives more emphasis to the song’s melancholic message.

After some calmness, here comes the strength in The Promise, with lots of percussion in this new version. Always Been Right features precise acoustic bass from Jonne, while Kie plays his mandolin. One of the most fun and captivating moments of the cold November night happens near the end, when Mikko and Markus have a little drum duel in Gloria, which made the crowd very excited and effusive about it.

The last chords of the night occur in the mashup between New Day Rising and The Arsonist, which ends the progressive acoustic journey in the best way that VHB knows how to do on stage: transforming its energy into sweat, emotion and music.

Many songs are born on guitars and dozens of colors are added when they switch to other instruments, so doing the opposite requires a keen eye and perception to not remove the elements that make it something so special. Von Hertzen Brothers proved that they were successful in this acoustic journey, showing the quality of their repertoire in new and rich arrangements, but more than that, they also showed that their work touches the soul and hearts of those who witness it, whether with acoustic or electric guitars.

Photos courtesy of Ville Laine (

You can listen to Von Hertzen Brothers latest album “Red Alert in the Blue Forest” here: