Von Hertzen Brothers & Messenger - The Fleece Bristol
Two of rocks most interesting bands in one place was a gig to good to miss so myself, my other half and Paul all descended upon Bristol's historic Fleece to take in what was sure to be an interesting night of music.
With what was a later start time than usual Messenger (7) finally came on to the stage and proceeded to tune their instruments and soundcheck, this took a while and ate into the bands time but finally the London group were ready to start their set, we would find out later that they had no time to soundcheck before the gig. Their performance was drawn from their psychedelic debut album and their as-yet-unreleased second record, the set was a little disjointed if I'm honest with the newer stuff a little heavier and more streamlined than the dreamy progressive music that the debut was full of. the set itself was dampened by the mix in the room with Khaled Lowe and Barnaby Maddick vocals being drowned out by Jaime Gomez Arellano's drums and Dan Knight's keys, the guitars too were a little fuzzy in places meaning that everything was just a bit too noisy to be heard. After around 35 minutes the set was over and the band celebrated their final gig of the tour by thanking the fans in attendance. Messenger were impressive but they were muted by the mix in the room and that the new material was not known by much of the audience but they were well received.
A short break and the stage was cleared ready for the headliners and as drummer Mikko Kaakkuriniemi and keyboardist Juha Kuoppala took to the stage everything was set for the brothers, bassist Jonne and guitarist Kie took to the stage first and Kie hit opening chords of New Day Rising before Mikko ran on and backed his brother on the guitar, the song built and Juha hit the keys for the song itself to kick off thoroughly, it was a strong start with Mikko singing with passion on the furious chorus. What was immediately evident was how good the sound was, all of the instruments were audible and blended well for the Brothers power rock assault, with a start like New Day Rising it was only right that dove right into thundering rocker You Don't Know My Name which got the crowd bouncing, the two tracks come from the Brothers latest album and as they give that album a strong start they did the same to this set, allowing everyone to take a breath Mikko did a bit of talking to tell everyone this was the last date of the tour and he wanted them to shout as loud as they could, with that Kie played the opening melody to the epic Flowers And Rust which did get the crowd in full voice as expected, now the set was mainly focussed on the last three VHB albums but the band were celebrating the anniversary of their breakthrough album Approach so three tracks from the set came from that album first up was creeping Endlessly which harked back to the band's progressive heritage as it built up with atmosphere before exploding into the massive chorus that had me shouting every word.
After the slowing of the set's pace things shook up again with the folky Always Been Right from Stars Aligned which showed off the keys in true styles and was followed by the heavyweight rocking of Miracle also from Stars Aligned which was a showcase for the brother's vocals harmonies. The band were a joy to watch with Mikko and Kie leaping around the stage as Jonne switched between bass and synths perfectly, Mikko became unhinged in the heavier tracks but he also showed off his more restrained side with ballads like Sunday Child and on River which has more Eastern promise than Turkish Delight as the final few songs of the set came into view the brothers once again went back to their progressive side with the off kilter bass driven Voices In Our Heads and the powerful and breathless Prospect For Escape ending the main set. A bit of speech from Mikko thanking everyone and introducing all those involved before starting the encore with Gloria which has become their anthem and the song that the ignorant prick next to me had shouted for in every quiet bit since the beginning of the set, more bouncing and one happy prat later and the final song of the night the euphoric Let Thy Will Be Done climaxed things with intensity. Von Hertzen Brothers' are an excellent live act brimming with energy and wide reaching approach to their music, with virtuoso performance and unrivalled clarity in the sound VHB's live show can't be missed, I for one can't wait to see them again at Steelhouse in July! 9/10