The Canadian musical mastermind and his trusted posse return down under to give us one big metal hug once again!
Australia is a wonderful place, amongst it’s own unique flora and fauna, other natural wonders occur for the enjoyment of us all. One such is the biennial migration of a group of Wild Canadian Prog Metallers (Canuck Cacophonus) to the coastal regions of the country.
They tend to stick to the capital cities and may stay for a week or two before disappearing for another two years but they never fail to leave a lasting impression on those who bear witness to their presence. Sometimes they shoot off to Europe to continue their passionate show of metallic grace, sometimes they retire to their native British Columbia on the far western end of Southern Canada to bunker down for the winter.
That shouldn’t be forgotten is the presentation of their song and the impact it leaves on the listener.
This year, a ‘Devyear’, experts tipped eager spotters off to a time and date and location where one would best view the glorious spectacle. This time, the heaving but gentle and bonevolent beast that is known as the Devin Townsend Project was to make it’s local public appearance at the Enmore Theatre, once more, to a generously sold audience of local enthusiasts, all eager for the near religious experience which was to unfold.
To prime the mood, a local rabble of progressively inclined individuals accepted the dubious task of warming up the punters. Sleepmakeswaves set themselves a goal to get the attention of everyone in the venue and hold it until it was safe to let it go again, they were well armed for this. Their particular penchant for waves of painstakingly precise progressive post-rock swept over the crowd between shrill, delay drenched guitars and skull pummeling drums. Their sound itself managing to both leave plenty of space to breathe while still feeling full and complete. So well crafted the songs were, one might not even realise that they play as an instrumental act, and they have done well to use the space left behind from having no vocals.
Sleepmakeswaves seemed like they were having so much fun swinging their guitars around on stage that it might be difficult to shoo them off in time for the main act, the legendary Devin Townsend and his much loved Project are ready to roll out!
But what DTP show will we see tonight? With such an almost infinitely variable back-catalogue to draw from?
Well, if this witness could call it anything, it would be a no-bullshit heavy rock extravanganza!
Opening with the energetic duo of Rejoice and Night, kicking the energy up in the room to cover everyone in it Devin himself singing strongly besides an admittedly croaky voice from a long day of talking to almost everyone for interviews and fan meetings, his banter was still on point!
The more recent Stormbending was translated live amost effortlessly while bringing a complex mid-paced rhythm for most people to really think about trying to headbang in time to before the brooding chunkyness and guitar noodling of Failure sent the room in another direction all together.
Before long, it was time to hit back into more crowd friendly material, the comparitively stripped-down Hyperdrive and the grand sing-along doozy Where We Belong bringing the unifying vibe of a classic DTP gig back to the room, crowd participation and all, before live staple Deadhead provided everything the punters were after in one more-bitter-than-sweet song
The high/low undulation of tonights set was underpinned once more by the near frantic Ziltoid Goes Home that gave the barrier crowd-controllers a glint of worry in their eye that they might actually have to do their job tonight.
Lucky for them DTP crowds are famously well behaved and very appreciative of the show at hand, for some of them, it’s like watching a real life deity hitting a shiny new guitar and making dick jokes.
Supercrush provided opportunities for big bursts of hair swinging and headbanging while others attempted to match Devin’s operatic vocal delivery, and the infections stomp of March of the Poozers was more than enough to crush the remaining empty cans on the dancefloor before the short, sharp blasts of grandure that is Kingdom signalled the end of the main set.
Almost immediately, Dev re-emerges (Well, he never left) to chat with us once again, thanking us all for always being there to enjoy the music and keep it going, and this is always genuine gratitude you get from the man himself. Before long, his faithful sidekick presents him with an acoustic guitar for a little singalong of an almost naked version of Ih-Ah, but as anyone who knows the Dev well enough knows that all he needs is a microphone and a guitar and still he can knock you down!
Dave, Ryan, Beav and Mike reunite on the stage once more, this time to churn out the mournful epic Bastard from the Ocean Machine album which is 20 years old in July!
At almost ten and a half minutes, the song never overstays it’s welcome and paves the way for the closing track Higher, the third and final track to be played off of the latest album Transcedence, to top off the night on a huge note.
One doesn’t get the average concert experience going to a DTP show, most leave more filfilled and optomistic than they were upon arrival, these shows can almost be called natural medicine, even if the implied image of Devin’s ‘uncooked prawn for a penis’ may not leave some minds. We’ll get our fix once more in another 2 years.