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Wednesday 15 March 2017

A View From The Back Of The Room: Devin Townsend Project

Devin Townsend Project, TesseracT & Leprous, Colston Hall, Bristol

Finally a chance to see Devin Townsend in a venue with good sound and promising support was too much of a opportunity to pass up so, over the bridge to the majestic Colston Hall arriving shortly after the doors opened, through the labyrinthine venue I took a seat at the back of the venue due to the limited standing space at the front and within five minutes Norweigian band Leprous (7) took to the stage, this was my second viewing of Leprous and my how things have changed their songs are now more direct, euphoric and emotive than before, using the low-lights to dramatic effect Einar Solberg prowling the stage with mic in hand before getting back behind his keyboard, it was great to see an animated keyboard player for a change as Solberg commanded the stage from Foe through to Slave. With a prog-metal crowd and more than a few Ihshan t-shirts (Leprous are his solo backing band) Leprous' electronica-driven prog metal received a warm response from the Hall and set a high watermark

Next it was time for TesseracT (8) who have always been at the forefront of djent but appeal to me due to the soaring clean vocals the employ, but my one criticism of them live is that they are not the most visual of acts, well consider that changed, the use of lighting in this set was some of the best I've seen in a long time, the band were pretty much in shadow for the majority of the set as the lighting set the mood in sync with the poly-rhythmic riffs, it was great to hear Dan Tompkins once again behind the mic displaying one of the widest vocal ranges in the business. The songs came thick and fast each flowing in and out of one another making the set flow well, the band are all incredible musicians and their powerful, modern sound, resonated with the crowd who cheered during the very short gaps between the songs, with so much turmoil surrounding vocalists having Dan back means the band are now firing on all cylinders and taking the position in the prog metal world that they deserve.

Whereas TesseracT had little chat and messing about the same cannot be said about the headliner, one of the issues I've had with Devin Townsend (7) is that he does tend to ramble on a bit too much during his sets, he has gonzoid sense of humour we all know but he also seemed to be in the grip of an anxiety during the set, he punctuated each song with incessant rambling and churlish humour. I'll be honest Devin is a genius but I came to this show because the last one I attended in Bristol was a washout due to Devin's voice being all but lost, I didn't enjoy that set and unfortunately I found this set a bit stale, yes he played the best tracks from most recent release Transcendence with Failure, Stormbending and Higher all featured but most of the set was the normal Devin mixed bag of older solo material drawn from Devin Townsend, Devin Townsend Band and Devin Townsend Project.

The heaviness coming from Hyperdrive! March Of The Poozers and the heavy as all hell Planet Of The Apes, there is a reason why they call him Hevy Devy but he also showed the duality of his work with Where We Belong and the sing along acoustic Ih-Ah. Yes the playing was at the normal high level, the band all as good technically as Devin but the whole show just lacked a little something, I've been on the Devin train for a long time now but maybe it's a sense of consistency breeding contempt, as good as everything is played and delivered there was a sense of going through the motions of a normal Devin gig. Is Devin still in a league of one? Yes he is. Will I see him again? I'm not sure, for me the train is approaching it's last stop.  

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