Fresh from the previous evening’s performance at the Progressive Music Awards, the Von Hertzen Brothers swing into Camden looking surprisingly fresh-faced and in high spirits. “We’d like to thank Gibson,” says Mikko von Hertzen, as the band strap on acoustic guitars before launching into the delightfully jaunty singalong Dreams. “We stole these last night.”
It’s not all high jinks and grand larceny, though. The band’s epic New Day Rising album is as likely to ferociously snarl as it is to charm with pop-folk whimsy, and this evening runs the gamut. The title track opens the show, an epic jumble of driving riffs, rattling toms and thrilling crescendos. You Don’t Know My Name pushes the accelerator further into the floor, before the swaying, hard-rock shanty of Flowers And Rust (winner of the Anthem bauble at last year’s Prog Awards) gives Mikko the chance to let rip: this boy can really sing.
Trouble – which he describes as their version of Queen’s The Prophet’s Song, assuming that Dreams is their version of Queen’s Seaside Rendezvous – is a mix of grinding riffs and soaring harmony vocals. It all meets somewhere in the middle of the Venn diagram where The Flower Kings and Flying Colors intersect with Muse, with crunching guitars dovetailing crashing, scattergun rhythms, but the dexterity on show is never at the expense of the melody.
Sunday Child is introduced as “the song [Prog writer] Phil Wilding promised would buy us boats”, and is a tune exquisitely tailored for audience participation. Hands clap, the air is punched and the crowd roar along lustily.
Miracle continues the set with the kind of lurching, improperly funky riff that gave a career to Rage Against The Machine, while the chiming Hold Me Up suggests the band are going to able to buy even bigger boats: it’s a song built for vast, swaying crowds and celebratory, triumphant montages on Sky Sports. They encore with Prospect For Escape, a distant cousin of Led Zeppelin’s No Quarter, featuring some devastating guitar work from brother Kie, and a climatic, start-stop thrash through Let Thy Will Be Done.
Everything’s in place. Von Hertzen Brothers have a great current album, a live set that’s almost barbarous in its intensity, and a brilliant drummer in Mikko Kaakkuriniemi, who looks like Michael Eavis with a beard of bees. Surely the only way is up.