When I was speaking with fellow members of my cohort at Uni before the gig, they all seemed to express some amount of shock and awe that I was coming to this gig. “I really didn’t think you’d be into Devin Townsend Project,” they said. Well, I am a fan of Devin and have been for quite a few years now, mainly down to Sean introducing me to him a couple of years ago. After really enjoying him last time with Periphery and Shining(NOR), I figured it worth popping down to see the wacky individual play some more ‘interesting’ music…
Before I even got in the venue though, there was a guy playing and singing his heart out to some acoustic renditions of some classic Devin songs in the hopes of getting a ticket for the concert that night. I’m hoping he did as he was pretty faithful in his renditions and did sound rather good.
First up on the stage were Norwegian prog metallers Leprous (7). Having an almost stripped down and less wacky Devin sounding vibe, the band preferred to let their music speak instead of themselves with only minimal interaction between lead vocalist Einar Solberg and the crowd. This might have played to their advantage though, as the crowd that was slowly growing in size took a like to them as time went on and gradually gave louder cheers/applause at the end of each song. Finishing with “Slave” from their latest album The Congregation, the band suitably warmed up the eager masses that were now slowly trundling into the venue.
Next up were local (well, England) boys, TesseracT (8). Upon speaking with members of the crowd and some fellow togs, I found out that most of them either had no idea who TesseracT were, or absolutely adored them. Being in the ‘no idea’ camp, I figured I’d approach them with an open mind and see what they brought. Bringing a mixture of prog and djent to the fold, both the band and most of the crowd looked as though they were really enjoying themselves.
Around halfway through the set, vocalist Dan Tompkins mentioned that the band were currently writing material for their upcoming fourth album. This was of course met with cheers from the avid TesseracT fans who were nearer the front and also some cheers of new fans that had been won over by their energetic performance. Finishing with “Of Mind – Nocturne” from Altered State, the band delivered a very strong set and certainly gained some new fans as well.
About five minutes or so after TesseracT had finished playing, the all too familiar voice of Ziltoid the omniscient came through the PA to provide some extremely comical entertainment whilst the stagehands busied themselves with changing over the equipment. With songs such as “Barbie Girl”, or Ziltoid’s version of the song, being played, it really set the mood for what was going to be a very entertaining performance.
It was then time for the master of craziness and his band, Devin Townsend Project (10) to come on to the stage. “Hey, I’m Devin! Let’s have some fun tonight!” and with those words, the band exploded into “Rejoice” from Sky Blue and the party began. Arguably one of the highlights of the set was when they played “Stormbending” from the latest album, Transcendence. The song translated perfectly into the live setting and I found myself, along with several other members of the crowd, singing along to it.
About halfway through “Where we Belong” some odd digital noises were heard before Devin had to stop the song and say “Guys, our computer that handles all our sounds just crashed. We need to reset this and it’ll take about ten minutes. Oh hell, that means I have to entertain you on my own for that long?!?!” Thankfully, the crowd were more than willing to help out and burst into a rendition of “Lucky Animals” from Epicloud before Devin was handed an acoustic guitar and proceed to play bits of “Life” from Ocean Machine with nothing but his guitar and voice to amplify it.
Soon, the PA was fixed and after two corny jokes the party began once more with “Planet of Apes” being played on the ‘c**t’ guitar which in reality is a light up Flying V guitar with built-in smoke machines. Swapping back to his normal guitar, the show carried on with a mixed bag of songs from across the latter half of his career. Ending the set with an encore of “Ih-Ah” played acoustically and “Higher”, the maestro from Canada delivered what is arguably one of the most entertaining performances I’ve ever seen.
It’s not just the music that makes a Devin performance, it’s his hilarious little anecdotes, the crowd interaction and everyone in the band performing as “one circus” (quoting Devin again), that make his band’s shows ones I look forward to every time they come round.
All pictures by Bukavac Photography