Gig Review: An Evening with Devin Townsend – City Varieties Music Hall, Leeds (April 27th, 2019)

Devin Townsend recently released Empath to much praise from both fans and the musical press alike. A complex and highly provoking album, many were wondering how Devin planned to tour with it given there were 3 different drummers used and a whole host of other guest musicians. To “give him time to think” Devin decided to do something he’d done before but on a slightly bigger scale. Tour with just himself and an acoustic guitar. Described by the man himself as “a way of slowly building up to the touring of Empath with the start being stripped back to just the guitar and voice. With a smattering of stuffed toys adjoining the stage, it was clear we were in for a fun night.

(c) Ya Cheng

Beginning with “Heart Baby” from Ghost, Devin then proceeded to serenade the packed music hall with acoustic renditions of songs from across his incredibly varied back catalogue. Instead of just playing the acoustic guitar, Dev had brought his Axe FX rig with him which allowed for a huge range of effects and backing instruments to accompany him in parts at the mere touch of a button. Not that he needed them as his voice alone was enough to carry across the beautifully decorated music hall.

After a few songs including “Love?”, he began the first part of the Q&A made up of questions which audience members had submitted at the merch stand prior to the show. Whilst some of the questions were a little silly, a few were rather interesting including one about whether he ever regretted the decision to become a musician. His answer to said question was that he enjoys making music and loves doing it although some points he doesn’t, like a lot of the things that come with it. Another question which was more of a request was to sing the song “Grace” for an audience member’s kid who was sadly not in attendance. Devin kindly obliged to thunderous applause from the audience and after a few more questions it was time for a short interval involving ice cream and drinks.

After the interval, Devin once again began the Q&A and ended up playing snippets of several tracks including “Detox”, “Kingdom” and “In My Dreams With You” which were audience requests. As ever, Devin performed them spectacularly despite him admitting to not remembering some parts of them. The questions then continued again with some silly ones such as someone “smelling of balls” and his idea for the video of his Vengaboys cover. After answering a few more questions, he picked up the guitar once again and proceeded to end the concert with “Divine” and “Life”, the latter of which proved to be an excellent song to end with.

With this evening’s performance, Devin not only cemented his position as one of the finest creative minds in metal today, he also showed that he is more than a one trick pony and able to translate even his craziest songs to suit an acoustic setting. Sure, “Detox” might not have had the same impact as it would have with a whole band backing him, but the fact he played it at all and was clearly having a laugh whilst doing so was excellent to see. In short, this was a fantastic evening and I highly look forward to seeing this again for the third time this year in late November/December.

Photos by Ya Cheng Photography

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April 1, 2020 7:40 PM

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