The beaming faces of the Finnish band on their social media stream on the morning of this gig as they left Helsinki to travel to the UK indicated that this was going to be a good night. The Von Hertzen Brothers have been regular visitors to the UK “for over 11 years” Mikko Von Hertzen informed us, and Bristol has been a permanent stop on their tours for many years. It was unsurprising that the venue was packed out by the time the band hit the stage.
There have been many good things written about Ethyrfield. I can confirm that it is all good. Having been at the same venue in August 2021 supporting Sons of Liberty, the three-piece from Newton Abbot are now embarking on their first full UK tour. They deserve the opportunity. A measured and assured 30-minute set showcased their progressive tendencies, which ranged from all out aural assaults to calming interludes, and all stations in between. The brothers Zach and Ben Cornish bring an excited yet balanced and mature approach, allowing drummer Dan Aston to hold the group together with little challenge. Zach handles the bass work and lead vocals with aplomb, a delicate yet soulful vocal style hitting all the right spots. Ben is no slouch, some impressive fretwork showing his chops. They may look young, but there are good things expected from these lads and one can only hope they continue their ascent, for there is much promise here. A band I will gladly look for again.
The Von Hertzen Brothers are a class act. Their latest album, Red Alert in the Blue Forest has shifted the dynamic in their songwriting once more, which is no mean feat for a band that has changed direction and style with every release. The album has been out for a few weeks, giving time for the assembled mass to have absorbed it. Opening with “Day of Reckoning” which segued gently into “Blue Forest”, the band were clearly intent on making up for lost time. Opening with a double song salvo that lasts over 20 minutes is a mark of the band’s confidence, although the subtle shift from one track to the other did catch a few of the less die-hard fans out.
Beginning with apparently serious faces, cracks in the visages soon appeared, and it was evident that they were intent on enjoying themselves. Dedicating “Coming Home” to their regular visits to Bristol, it was time for a long-overdue party which included plenty of awful dancing and a rendition of happy birthday for guitarist and vocalist Kie. The set list was balanced, older favourites contrasting with the new songs, such as the perfect “All of a Sudden You’re Gone”. “Coming Home” with its infectious groove and the soaring anthem “Flowers and Rust” were welcomed like old friends, whilst closing anthem “New Day Rising” almost took the roof off. The audience and band in perfect harmony. The appreciation show by the progressive loving crowd was genuine, the band looked to be having a great time with grins from ear to ear across the five members.
It’s the sum of the parts that makes the Von Hertzen Brothers the force they are, and whilst it was Kie and brothers Mikko and Jonne who took central stage and attention, the contributions of keyboard player Robert Engstrand and drummer Sami Kuoppamäki were essential to the evening. With their high-pitched harmonies, cleverly crafted songs, and delicious melodies, it was a set to savour. Over 20 years into their journey, the Von Hertzen Brothers remain a band to watch. You cannot tire of such perfection. Enjoyable, complex, intricate, and yet fun, they are the ultimate cohesive unit.
Photos by Paul Hutchings