VV, Kælan Mikla @ Tavastia
VV (Ville Valo), Kælan Mikla, Helsinki, Tavastia, 13-15.01.2023
Ville Valo just opened a large EU and US tour, totaling about 60 dates in support of his solo album “Neon Noir”, and the three sold-out Helsinki gigs manifest the start of it. As a positive surprise, the warm-up act in Helsinki is the Icelandic post-punk band Kælan Mikla. While gathering some devoted fans (myself included), the band is a lot closer to underground and avantgarde than Ville Valo, albeit it is not the first time it is being noticed and put forward by a big name: Robert Smith invited them in to warm up for the 40 years anniversary of The Cure and to play Meltdown Festival back in 2018. Just days ago Metal Hammer UK devoted them an article – and they are featured in our first podcast.
Last year, KM was busy: their latest album, ‘Undir Köldum Norðurljósum’ is nothing short of a breakthrough for them. In the beginning the band was largely relying on some punk “weird stuff”, but as of today, it found itself in eerie and magical fairytales – fitting right in in Goth and Nordic Folk festivals. Combined with punk roots, energy and a solid performance, this material helps to put the band largely forward.
It is the second night that KM opens for VV; just the second night after they even had met Ville Valo in person. As it happens, they have to perform on a short frontstage, since most of the stage is occupied by VV apparatus and covered in black. The light is equally plain, consisting of the photographer’s “favorite” LED floodlights, but the band has made the right call to use video projections. These improve the visual a lot, providing some interesting background and making the artists look avant-garde, light-painted with abstract imagery. While band confesses that by the time they started (many years ago), they had to study how to play instruments. Today the band definitely has a strong presence on stage. The performance left a strong impression, and I am not easily impressed. There is something about their music that gets to you. The band also appeared in the hall after the gig, and were warmly greeted by fans. KM is also already invited to re-appear in Helsinki’s Sideways festival in Summer 2023.
VV alias Ville Valo
Of course, disbanding HIM did not end up with Ville Valo being retired. As of today, if Kaelan Mikla gets an article in Metal Hammer, Ville gets the cover. His new project is clearly a continuation of previous work – for the logo, it’s just another “V”-shaped form added to the trademark “heartagram” (the older version, iron-soldered heartagram-shaped light support rig, can be found in the same club hanging from the ceiling – a legacy of the legendary club Nosturi -RIP). Ville’s solo album Neon Noir was out right at the start of the tour, the day before the gig. So is it going to be all-new Ville from now on? No way. The set list is just so: one HIM song after one new song, with the four encores following suit. Those who have been on Ville’s/HIM shows to know that the band is not putting up any major show, simply relying on the frontman who is singing the songs while standing in front with the microphone. The crowd likes it anyway. I, to be honest, was picking much less vibe than from Kælan Mikla, but the audience was really happy. Three sold out concerts and an almost dangerously packed Tavastia. Good times.