Two supports bands were in tow as well and I have heard neither. They were Ulysses and Black Wolf. As I entered the Dome I was met with a rather large hall, about twice as big as the Underworld with a high rise stage and even a drum riser. Interesting I thought as the venue seemed rather big in size for the band but by the end of the night I would say about 250 people turned up which is not too bad but the venue can fill 3 times that I'm pretty sure.
Ulysses were up first. They were like a 70s folk rock band with fuzzy grooves and slow paced melodic vocals from the front man with the big 70s sideburns. They played one song which was rather fun. I'm not sure if it was a cover but it sounded really familiar to me. These guys were quite cool and got the handful of early punters nodding their heads along to their slow burning dreamy grooves. Not really my thing but a very suitable support for VHB.
Main support were Black Wolf. I think I've seen this band's name mentioned here and there but never taken notice. That fat 70s groove thing is not really my thing but these guys were hellishly impressive. They played a much more metallic and groovier style than the more laud back and folky approach of Ulysses. The front man had a clear voice and a rocking stage manner. Their grooves were easy to like and they played with a heavy metallic swagger. Very good main support for VHB.
The roadies got the stage ready and at 9.30 sharp the VHB took to the stage with the 3 brothers at stage front with the non familial members ie the drummer and keyboard player at the back of the stage. Knowing only the songs from the new album meant I was hoping that they would mostly be playing the new songs and thankfully the brothers had every confidence in the new music and played almost all of the new cd. Staring with the menacing opening riff of New Day Rising and then bursting headlong into the pacy You Don't Know My Name, the Finnish brothers were taking absolutely no prisoners.
It seems that VHB has quite a following in the UK prog rock community and I saw a lot of people mouthing lyrics and really enjoying the brothers energetic performance especially the lead singer. The hat wearing bearded brother provided the band's more quirkier moments with his cool facial gestures and madcap guitaring. Black Rain was an awesome ballad from the new album. Sometimes the band's sound gets a little lost in volume though and the subtleties and vocal harmonies get lost in sound which is a shame but I guess you have the cd for that.
The VHB live experience is one of expertly played modern prog rock with heavy riffs and some soaring melodic song writing. Trouble was the best song of the night for me and was played and sung to perfection with it's beautiful melodic chorus ringing loud and clear. The band played a long main set of 13 songs followed by a 3 song encore. I left just before the final song as a long day had finally caught up with me and I was starting to flag. This gig was far different than the usual metal gigs I attend but no less interesting. I hope to hear more of Black Wolf especially and VHB proved they are a modern prog rock band to be reckoned with.
Von Hertzen Brothers: