So far this year’s gigs have been on the heavy side, with songs about death, dying in battle or generally being injured being the overriding themes. The Devin Townsend Project recently came to town to fix that.. granted death and destruction still came at the hands of alien overlords, but it’s a nice change from a Viking doing the killing.
DTP, as I’ll be calling them because I’m painfully lazy, we supported by Shining and Periphery. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the ABC this busy for a support band, never mind headliner and it’s a testament to the strength of the bands. I can’t claim any sort of expert knowledge on Periphery, though after seeing them I’ve certainly been convinced to check them out further. The singer displayed a range that shocked me and seemed to take many others by surprise also. With Devin Townsend being the sort of artist who isn’t stuck in any one sound, it seems fitting to have a band with a versatile singer support.
Usually the wait between support and headliner is a tedious experience if it isn’t spent battling to the bar, then battling to the toilet, then battling back in. Tonight we were treated to various photoshops of Devin’s face to pass the time. My personal favourite being the South Park one, but I’m biased because South Park is awesome. Though my real personal favourite was the person explaining every. single. photo. to their friends.
the starring photo
After a brief welcome from Ziltoid himelf, the concert opened with Truth. The final huge note sets us up for the heavier approach of Deathray that follows. Ever the entertainer, Devin promises we’ll take part in various “metal” moments (countdowns and so on) throughout. Self-aware metal is best metal.
With such a range of sounds, you get a range of fans. From full on death metal dudes to the poppier rock guys, the audience was a mixed bag and as such, didn’t always know how to act. There was almost an air of “should we have a pit?.. Let’s try one.” We definitely needed Devin’s direction throughout and he thankfully set us straight. It wasn’t pits or head banging we needed (though lets face it, Addicted calls for it), it was jazz hands. Lucky Animals demanded only the finest jazz hands, and as a reward the singer from Shining appeared in a monkey suit to play a sax solo (that was a great sentence to write).
From moments like dedicating Life to a fan who was going through a bad time in their family through to telling stories and getting the crowd to do silly things, he presented an affable and welcoming figure which is always a welcome change from the hardcore “kick your ass” type singers. Of course, it’s not a one man show. The type of music DTP plays demands tight, tight performances. The amount going on in each song could easily turn sloppy but the group is in the pocket like you wouldn’t believe.
When you walk away from a night like tonight, the most important thing you take away is a) Canada is great and, b) we really shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously. It’s a silly genre after all.
My two highlights are probably Namaste and Kingdom. Namaste because it’s Namaste. Kingdom because despite knowing he can nail those notes, I’m always taken by surprise.
Devin Townsend is glorious, that’s all there is to it. Whether it’s the Europop stylings of Bend it like Bender (couldn’t be more devastated not to bust a move to that) to the riffage of Addicted and the gentle Ih-Ah!, he covers a broad spectrum most can only dream of. The fact this was the first time I’ve seen him haunts me but it won’t be the last. And just because I’m in charge around here, have Bend it like Bender. I’m off to listen to the Vengaboys and pretend I’m back in the 90s. Just like I do every other night.