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Sunday, 7 April 2013

View From The Back Of The Room: Von Hertzen Brothers

Von Hertzen Brothers, Haken & Enochian Theory, Bogiez Cardiff

Once more into the bowels of Cardiff however this time it was for an entirely more cerebral affair, this was a night of prog rock and my what a night it was.

Enochian Theory

First up was Enochian Theory who I have heard of but I have never heard and from the opening 10 seconds I wondered where I had been. These three men deliver a fantastic modern progressive rock noise that was enthralling to behold. With some excellent drumming and bass work keeping the off kilter and melodic rhythm it was up to singer/guitarist to work his magic over the six strings providing a sprawling musical base for his soft vocals. The perfect openers to the night Enochian Theory won me over with their sprawling modern prog with a dark heart that put me in mind of Porcupine Tree. 8/10

Haken

I love Haken on album; both of their records are fantastic slices of British prog rock with some metal crunch to them. This was my first time seeing them live and they are very good, with all 6 members filling the stage, Haken immediately burst into Drowning In The Flood which featured the fantastic arpeggio guitar playing of virtuoso player and founder Richard Hensall who is backed by Charles Griffiths on second six string as they dual with the extremely melodic keys and electronics of Diego Tejeida. Then came the rest of the band who are very bass heavy, which is no bad thing considering the talent of Thomas Maclean. The keys then picked up for the second song Eternal Rain with Hensall showing he is also excellent tinkling the ivories as well. The band then moved onto a new song which bodes well for the new album as it full of the bands trademark time shifts and little odd flourishes of jazz and other forms of music built in. The intensely melodic and euphoric The Mind's Eye came next which showed off the absolutely awesome vocals of Ross Jennings who hit some huge notes and then threw shapes through the instrumental Portals before returning to the finale of Shapeshifter. The band sounded great (as did Enochian Theory) and their playing was immense, bolstered by the infectious enthusiasm of Jennings. I'm glad I waited as they were excellent laying down the gauntlet for the headliners. 9/10

Von Hertzen Brothers

It is a long flight from Finland to Wales so you could forgive the Von Hertzen Brothers for scaling down their production. Nope. Bringing everything but the kitchen sink (even their own sound engineer(s) VHB had every single piece of equipment imaginable to make their set go without a buzz of feedback. Focusing heavily on the (excellent) new album the brothers opened with furious Insomniac before Writings On The Wall which was followed by new single the excellent ballad Flowers And Rust. Straight from the first three songs you could tell just how professional VHB are they have everything down to a tee and their music is just all encompassing bringing every genre imaginable conducted by the three brothers on stringed instruments, the resolutely strong drumming of Mikko K and the engaging, ethereal and energising keys of Juha. The spiralling Wurlitzer of Coming Home came next showing that Kie Von Hertzen has an excellent baritone vocal that perfectly compliments his brother (and main vocalist) Mikko VH's higher register, in fact the three of them have some unbelievable vocal harmonies that only Brian Wilson could beat. The set continued with the shout along Always Been Right, the Middle Eastern style Angel's Eyes and the hard rocking of Freedom Fighter. Thrown into this myriad of perfectly executed songs was a cover, now many bands can do a cover justice however this is not just a cover, VHB set the bar high by covering perhaps the most revered and downright weird progressive bands in history, King Crimson, takes a lot of balls. However the VHB totally nailed 21st Century Schizoid Man staying true to the original but also adding their own style to it. The main set ended with Let Thy Will Be Done before an encore of the majestic and beautiful new song Prospect For Escape ended the show on a relaxed but euphoric note. The Von Hertzen Brothers really can put on a show and they give their all to the show making sure that everyone goes home feeling elated. The may bring more equipment than any band I have ever seen but I’m sure none of it is superfluous. An absolutely fantastic show! 10/10

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