In pictures: Ville Valo’s Helldone New Year’s party

At a sold-out Tavastia Club in Helsinki, Ville Valo revived his Helldone New Year’s Eve party alongside new friends Zetra and hundreds of Heartagram-sporting love metallers…

In pictures: Ville Valo’s Helldone New Year’s party
Kerrang! staff
Marilena Vlachopoulou

After years in stasis, Ville Valo brought Helldone festival back to Helsinki for a New Year’s Eve to remember (depending on how much booze was involved). Taking over the city's iconic Tavastia Club – a favourite of the HIM singer, and a venue that played a pivotal role in the band's early days – VV invited hundreds of their biggest fans down to the Finnish capital for sold-out night of love metal and gothic revelry.

In fact, tonight is a special one for the venue itself, as Juhani Merimaa – man who has run the Tavastia venue since 1980 and booked some of HIM's first shows – is departing after more than 40 years. Helldone is his final night in charge, and what a way to bow out, alongside one of the city's biggest musical success stories. Here he is, popping the champagne at midnight...

Fan have been queuing all day in the bitter Helsinki winter, some for up to five hours in the 14ºC temperatures. Not being their first rodeo, some even brought thermal blankets to keep them going and ensure prime position on the barrier.

Indeed, Ville Valo's devotees had travelled from across the world to celebrate the end of 2023 together. Some who have worshipped at the altar of His Infernal Majesty for decades, some who are just beginning their journey into deep shadows and brilliant highlights.

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But before the Double-V took to the stage, his hand-picked support act – the secretive synth-metal duo known as Zetra – were tasked with getting Helsinki in the mood. Their mysterious etherealism might be as banger-heavy as VV's headline set, but their presence is captivating and we cannot wait to see them on the full Neon Noir tour in April.

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Tonight, though, is about one group, the almost-eponymous VV. Receiving a hero's welcome, Ville Valo and his merry men blasted through more than 20 tracks – alternating between new material and HIM classics. And while Neon Noir's heavy-hitters like Echolocate Your Love and Loveletting deliver knockout blows, it's old favourites like Rip Out The Wings Of A Butterfly, Buried Alive By Love and Right Here In My Arms that send Tavastia into raptures. And the surprise inclusion of Gone With The Sin and Killing Loneliness – which haven't appeared on the tour setlist until now – send things even further into abject euphoria.

If this is how we're starting 2024, the rest of the year has got a lot to live up to.

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