The majesty of Devin Townsend and his band, Devin Townsend Project, is well-known in the heavy metal scene. His bombastic and wacky live shows are but a part of his versatility and musical grace.
Take his 2012 ‘Retinal Circus’ show at the Roundhouse in London, or his 2015 show at the Royal Albert Hall. He brings a certain mellow mayhem to his live performances, as well as a legion of fans and the occasional theatre act.
Devin Townsend Project (DTP) has appeared in Bristol several times over the last few years, but his Colston Hall show was his biggest yet. Promoting their new album, Transcendence, their sound has become noticeably bigger in a way that only a venue as grand as the Colston Hall could accommodate. Playing ‘Failure’, ‘Stormbending’, and ending with ‘Higher’, Devin demonstrates his appeal in style. His numerous musical projects give him plenty of material to unleash. His set featured tracks from not just Devin Townsend Project but also his solo project and Devin Townsend Band, with ‘Hyperdrive’, ‘Night’, ‘Kingdom’, and ‘Suicide’. It was ‘Planet Of The Apes’ that outshone the rest, with its feverish grace in the guitars from Both Devin and Dave Young and a bruising drum bombardment from Ryan Van Poederooyen.
Devin aptly described the Colston Hall as a “cavernous hall of reverb” and he was not wrong. The sound was constantly drowned out by itself, with the guitars sometimes getting almost completely lost within the echo chamber. In such a venue, it is hard to skirt around such issues with sound but it did detract slightly from the overall experience. The muddiness in the sound prevented many of the tracks from reaching their heights; Devin’s heavy use of samples and keys from Mike St-Jean were almost inaudible and his trademark ‘wall-of-sound’ production was sadly not quite on form.
Devin’s uncanny ability to entertain certainly saved the show. His wacky humour and his inane between-song ramblings are a potent mix. His huge Flying V guitar with built-in smoke machines and his gorilla dances were elements of Devin being in his…well, element. He never ever fails to succeed. He always has a way of making one feel so happy to have made the decision to listen to him, to see him play. By the time he broke in toothy grins with his intimate acoustic version of ‘Ih-ah’, his genuine character had already stolen the show and that was really all he needed to ever do. He’s just really good at being Devin.
Devin Townsend Project are playing the Hammersmith Apollo in London tonight, March 17th.
Transcendence is out on HevyDevy records.