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  THE DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT
LIVE REVIEW PART I, II AND III


Xander, Michael Downie and Ivan David

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Here at MetalTalk we don't like to do things by halves and this week has been no exception. We didn't want to review just one Devin Townsend gig, we wanted to review them all!

Such is our dedicated and widely spread excellent team of staff with impeccable taste, we were able to cover the week's events as they unfolded with the two warm-up shows culminating with the grand finale of The Retinal Circus. Get a brew ready, it's a long one!

Article continues below...

 
 


The Devin Townsend Project live review Pt.I - Tuesday 23th October, Northumbria University, Newcastle.
Michael Downie


michael downie

I've been a massive fan of Devin Townsend for a long time. His irreverent, offbeat and downright strange take on progressive rock and Metal has always excited that music nerd inside of me. However, despite many, many attempts, I've never been able to catch him live. Imagine my surprise when he announced a warm up show at Northumbria University in Newcastle. Wasting no time, I was ticketed up and ready to finally see one of my idols live in my home town. To say I was excited would have been a massive understatement.

Even before the band took to the stage it was clear that this was going to be something special. A projector was set up which started displaying some random videos which I'm assuming lead into the 'Retinal Circus' set. When I say these videos were random, I'm not kidding, it's the only way to describe them.

devin townsend

Billed as Ziltoid TV, they consisted of a multitude of little animations and Python-esque skits. The audience found them generally amusing until a video featuring Ziltoid himself appeared. Singing along to 'Badger Badger Badger'. Yeah, really. If you hadn't gathered by now, Devin Townsend has a bit of a twisted sense of humour. Either way, everyone laughed, so the videos did their job and made the sound checks and gear transition much less dull.

When the band made it to the stage, to rapturous applause, they kicked in with the intro and opening track from the brand new album, 'Epicloud', namely 'Effervescent'! and 'True North'. As the backing music built up, Devin reminded the audience that this was a warmup show and to ignore the invisible choir, just to enjoy the music. When he does the 'Retinal Circus' show proper, he'll have a full choir and a complement of backing vocalists, for the warm up show he was making use of backing tracks. Not that anyone minded, though.

The band and Devin himself were on superb form. Their sound was spot on. That huge wall of sound that Devin is known for was in full effect, from the wonderfully thick guitars, to the rumbling bass, everything sounded perfect. I've seen many shows at the Northumbria Student Union before and none have ever sounded this good.The set list for the night concentrated mostly on Devin's more recent works, so we were treated to tracks from 'Deconstruction', 'Epicloud' and 'Ziltoid The Omniscient', all set to a mix of beautiful and downright bizzare animated backdrops. In particular, 'Lucky Animals' had a display showing men in ape costumes dancing in unison. Contrast that with 'Where We Belong' which had beautiful artist renditions of planets and geometric patterns.

The band were clearly having fun on stage. Devin was taking great joy in mocking the audience and generally taking the piss. During the clean breakdown section for 'Planet Of The Apes', Devin gestured for the audience to wave their arms to the ballad tempo by yelling "C'mon everyone, let's be gay!", much to the audience's amusement.

A couple of older songs were dropped in to shake things up. 'War' then 'Vampira' had the long term Devin fans jumping and grooving for joy. However, the latter half of the set featured my favourites from Devin's extensive back catalogue. 'Colour Your World' from the 'Ziltoid' album had the audience going nuts and waving their Ziltoid puppets in the air. Yes, the band sells hand puppets of Ziltoid. You should all want one.

After another couple of songs from 'Epicloud' the band hit their peak for me. The mighty 'Juular' came up, resplendent in its sheer heaviness. The band played with the music video for the song playing from the projector reminding me of what a bloody cool song it is. Throughout the whole gig, Devin was interacting with the crowd, having fun and generally joking around. If he wasn't singing, he was either pulling a face or grinning like a simpleton. You can tell that he still has the time of his life on stage. At one point he even borrowed a bunny-eared hat from a girl in the audience, revelling in his own absurdity.

As the set closed with 'Grace', I couldn't help but realise what a spectacular gig this had been. Devin Townsend is one of the funniest, most engaging frontmen I've ever seen live. His constant jokes about the most stupid things were persistently funny and endeared the audience towards him.As well as Devin's skills with an audience, his (and his band's) absolutely flawless delivery of their set is one of the most fun experiences I've ever had at a gig. The song choices were perfect, the performances were spot on and there wasn't a bad aspect of night.

If you can ever catch Devin Townsend on tour in any capacity, then I strongly urge you to. It's an experience like no other.

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The Devin Townsend Project live review Pt.II - Wednesday 24th October, The Junction, Cambridge
Xander


Xander

So tonight started in typical fashion with the homemade movies and then we realized the whole band was stood side of stage (small venue open plan stage - nowhere to hide). Cheers erupted and the band walked into the spotlight, Devin casually moseyed up to the mic, "Hi, how are we all doing tonight? This is my informal entrance I will next be doing a formal entrance in which I walk to the side of the stage and back on again and we pretend this whole awkwardness didn't happen."

He then explained to us that this gig is a run through of part of the "terrible" gig that's happening this weekend ('The Retinal Circus') and admitted to fucking up the first track the previous night and that Anneke was only to appear in digital form.

devin townsend

So after a humbling informal entrance Devin then left and returned with the formal entrance, literally walking in a circle, and the show began. Devin joked about "having" to play new songs but to be honest I actually wanted to hear them. So in order off the album 'Epicloud' were; 'Effervescent!', 'True North' and 'Lucky Animals'. I really wanted to do the silly dance and jazz hands, but no one else did so I'm not gonna be the one looking silly!

In fact, the Cambridge crowd were very still, very much nodding and crowded at the front but no real movement - I was a little disappointed as I was ready for a right bounce! Devin actually commented that the audience was very polite so they gradually they warmed up to some movement - maybe they just didn't know the new stuff.

The Devin Townsend Project: 'Kingdom' (Live in Cambridge)



In this video you can see RVP's kick drums are blue, they actually had lights inside ad changed colour throughout the set, tres cool!

Anyway the show continued. A change of pace was announced with 'Babysong', which I was surprised was played but I love the song so was pretty happy - but should you really be surprised by anything from Devin? Then wham, another eye opener when bassist, Brian Waddell, leaped into the bouncy melody of 'Vampolka' - could it be? Yes, it was!!! So now the crowd really got their boogey on and of course 'Vampira' followed. Three tracks in a row in order from 'Synchestra'.

Two more tracks in order from 'Epicloud', a stellar performance from drummer, 'RVP', on the one track from 'ZTO', 'Color Your World', and then an odd choice from 'The Hummer' - this should be interesting... BANG, oh no he tricked us and it was actually 'Kingdom'.

I tell you what - these new tracks have really got some oomph to them, a massive feel of grandeur. The show concluded with a couple more new tracks and just the one encore, but with no messing around as apparently they had to get the first train to London ASAP!

This gig was truly more than fantastic, a lovely little venue but with a nice size stage. The sound was pristine and the whole band were enjoying themselves (who wouldn't be, right?). They only played for 90 minutes but apart from that the only thing better than this gig, could only be the next gig, 'The Retinal Circus'...

Set lists:
23rd (Newcastle) and 24th (Cambridge)
Effervescent!
True North
Lucky Animals
Planet of the Apes
Truth
War
Babysong
Vampolka
Vampira
Color Your World
Where We Belong
Kingdom
Juular
Grace
Bad Devil (encore - Cambridge only)

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The Devin Townsend Project live review Pt.III - Saturday 27th October, The Roundhouse, London
Ivan David


david ruiz

Devin Townsend's 'Retinal Circus' show at the Roundhouse was a true theatrical and visual representation of Devin's music. The experience was overwhelming, with lots of elements thrown into the mix, including videos, actors, dancers, choreography, fire, explosions, etc, etc, etc, etc. Everything based on a storyline with a main character that aimed to hold a connection between all the stages of Devin Townsend's career and give a degree of sense to it all.

Camden's Roundhouse was packed with lots of fans wearing Ziltoid t-shirts and paper masks of Devin's face which were handed during the long queue outside. The anticipation was building and people tired of waiting started chanting. Finally, the show started with Steve Vai on the screens as the event's host to welcome us to the show and introduce us to its main character Harold.

devin townsend

'Effervescent' from 'Epicloud' kicked in with the gospel choir (actors and guests lip-synching over a backing track if I'm not mistaken), the charismatic voice of Anneke Van Giersbergen delivered the first few seconds of 'True North' and Devin took over in full circus director/animal trainer outfit with top hat and all. Then the stage got assaulted by actors dressed as cats during 'Lucky Animals'.

After this great start that featured Devin's most recent highlights, the show continued with songs from all over his back catalogue, putting an emphasis on its most dense and epic-sounding moments ('Planet Of The Apes', 'Truth', 'War' and 'Planet Smasher' to name a few), all pumped up by the visuals and theatrical elements, which would take too long to describe in detail.

Our senses were attacked by many things, including belly dancers, pole dancers, cages, the birth of Ziltoid's baby through an alien vagina, fire, mayhem, Lots of videos, Devin and Ziltoid French-kissing, monkeys jumping around (you get the idea). The show was more inclined towards the visual side which was successful in being as bold as Devin's music.

The circus had a chance to breathe during some slower moments with songs such as 'The Babysong' and 'Colour Your World'. After a fifteen-minute intermission the second half of the show started soft as well with the acoustic version of 'Hyperdrive', 'Ih-Ah' and 'Where We Belong', contrasting violently with some Strapping Young Lad numbers ('Detox' and 'Love?'), which pleased a lot of moshing fans and featured SYL guitarist Jed Simon.

The second segment featured more upbeat songs and had a more active crowd, triggered by Strapping's more violent approach. After the dense first half and intermission people in the audience were more excited jumping up and down, and the interaction between them and the band was more evident.

All the theatrics and visuals seemed to have built a barrier at first, but it was just a matter of time for the people to fully embrace with the performers and achieve the communion offered by the live performance.

After going through other favourites that included 'Life', 'Kingdom', 'Juular', and 'Bend It Like Bender' (this one had an awesome reception) among others, the band closed with 'Little Pigs' from 'Epicloud' with the band and performers entering the stage one by one to close the show with a farewell to the crowd.

'The Retinal Circus' was evidently a challenge, even for an artist as daring as Devin Townsend. Yes, it was rough around the edges, it had some technical issues (sound and image synchronisation comes to mind) and the storyline/concept was a bit forced in order to fit a sensible overview of Devin's career, but at the end it was clearly a massive success. Devin Townsend was genuinely happy and grateful to the crowd and the people who helped creating a statement that was not only a defining moment of his career, but also a new start to all the great music and art that will come from him in the future.

Set list:
The Retinal Circus
Effervescent
True North
Lucky Animals
Planet of the Apes
Truth
War
Planet Smasher
Baby Song
Vampolka
Vampira
Addicted
Colour Your World
The Greys
(Intermission)
Hypderdrive (Acoustic)
Ih-Ah
Where We Belong
Detox
Bend It Like Bender
Life
Kingdom
Juular
Love?
Wild Colonial Boy
Grace
Little Pigs (encore)

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31.10.12



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The new single from 'Wonder Days' celebrates the recovery of guitarist Ben Matthews after serious illness...

space elevator Y&T ANNOUNCE EUROPEAN TOUR DATES FOR 2015
Still rocking on and as ready as ever, Y&T return to Europe this autumn, with special festival dates in July...

space elevator SPACE ELEVATOR ANNOUNCE SPRING TOUR
Following their strong live debut last year, the band return for a select handful of dates...

the night flight orchestra THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM RELEASE
'Skyline Whispers', the latest from the Swedish rockers, lands in June...

femme metal FEMME METAL FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES FULL LINE UP
Lacuna Coil and Therion wil headline the international line-up for the October event in Eindhoven...

dimebag darrell DIMEBAG DARRELL'S GRAVE DESECRATED BY FORMER NUCLEAR HELLFROST VOCALIST REECE EBER
Inevitably, Nuclear Hellfrost's social media pages were bombarded by understandably angry and outraged Pantera fans...

iron maiden NICKO McBRAIN GIVES IRON MAIDEN UPDATE - NEW ALBUM IS READY BUT ON HOLD
"Bruce is in great hands back home in England, not only with his family, but his oncologists and all the people that are working with him..."

battle beast FOUNDING MEMBER ANTON KABANEN FORCED OUT OF BATTLE BEAST
"I did not want to leave. The initiative came from the rest of the band, and I am now forced to leave..."

jethro tull IAN ANDERSON CELEBRATES JETHRO TULL WITH NEW SHOW - UK DATES ANNOUNCED
Ian Anderson has announced six dates of a 2015 UK tour, titled 'Jethro Tull - The Rock Opera'...

fm FM PREMIERE 'DIGGIN' UP THE DIRT' VIDEO
Check out the new single from 'Heroes and Villains' right here. FM will be touring the UK in May with Romeos Daughter as special guests...

hrh 9 UFO AND MORE ACTS CONFIRMED FOR HARD ROCK HELL 9
UFO, Toseland, The Screaming Eagles and Trucker Diablo are just some of the acts in today's announcement, joining Saxon this November in Wales...

hackett stolt STEVE HACKETT REVEALS NEW BASS/12 STRING PLAYER FOR UPCOMING TOURO
Multi-talented guitarist Roine Stolt joins the line-up. "It's marvellous to have both Swedish talents Roine Stolt and Nad Sylvan as part of the band for these Hackett solo/Genesis Revisited shows..."

hammerfall HAMMERFALL ANNOUNCE ONE OFF LONDON SHOW IN MAY
"We're pulling out all the stops to make this a triumphant return to British shores and this time there will be no restrictions on lights, sound or production..."

krokus KROKUS ANNOUNCE FIRST US TOUR IN OVER 25 YEARS
Following the Monsters Of Rock cruise the tour continues through several US cities, ending at the legendary Whisky A Go Go in Los Angeles...

wildfire festival WILDFIRE FESTIVAL 2015 ANNOUNCES SUNDAY NIGHT SPECIAL GUESTS, ACOUSTIC LOUNGE AND MORE
For 2015 the Acoustic Lounge is back, bigger and better than ever....

the darkness BREAKING NEWS: THE DARKNESS ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM AND UNVEIL NEW VIDEO - WATCH IT HERE
Summer 2015 sees the return of multi-award winning music band The Darkness....

jim cregan JIM CREGAN POSTPONES MARCH CREGAN & CO TOUR FOLLOWING CANCER NEWS
Soon I'll start treatment which I'm hopeful will lead to a full recovery and I'll be back doing what I enjoy most, performing with this great band in May and on tour in October..."

hang the bastard HANG THE BASTARD ANNOUNCE TOUR DATES WITH CORROSION OF CONFORMITY & UK HEADLINE DATES
"It's gonna be heavy and it's gonna be loud!!! Bang your heads, we are coming for you!..."

aaron keylock 17 YEAR OLD GUITAR HERO AARON KEYLOCK SIGNS TO MASCOT LABEL GROUP
One of the most exciting and brightest young talents in the UK, Aaron is a mesmerising live performer with over 200 shows to his name...

bruce dickinson BREAKING NEWS: IRON MAIDEN SINGER BRUCE DICKINSON UNDERGOES CANCER TREATMENT
Sometimes a news item breaks that shakes you to your foundations...

rock goddess ROCK GODDESS ANNOUNCE FIRST LONDON DATE IN OVER THIRTY YEARS
The waiting is over. The reformed South London hard rock trio have announced details of their first London concert in over 30 years...

nigel glockler BREAKING NEWS: SAXON DRUMMER NIGEL GLOCKLER PRONOUNCED 100% RECOVERED WITH ZERO DAMAGE
"This means that I am okay to get back to work, but I am told to ease back into it and on my own timeframe..."

turbowolf TURBOWOLF RELEASE BLISTERING NEW SINGLE 'NINE LIVES'
"Nine Lives is a song about making the most of our limited time; about living with no regrets; about changing our attitudes towards death and about life..."

arch enemy ARCH ENEMY ANNOUNCE NEW LIVE DATES FOR 2015
European fans will see Arch Enemy again in late April. The band are coming back with support from US Metal force Unearth and Drone from Germany...

motley crue EXCLUSIVE: MOTLEY CRUE PAY TRIBUTE TO GARY GLITTER ON THE FINAL TOUR
Debauched rockers Motley Crue are currently in Japan performing their last Asian dates on their much publicised Final Tour...

music for nations LEGENDARY HEAVY METAL LABEL MUSIC FOR NATIONS IS BACK
As well as reissues, the label will be signing new artists for the first time in over a decade...

satyricon SATYRICON SIGNS WITH NAPALM RECORDS FOR RELEASE OF SPECTACULAR LIVE DVD
"It's not a live album. It's a celebration of what Satyricon stands for as a band..."

absolva ABSOLVA RELEASE NEW VIDEO FOR 'IN SOME WILD UNIVERSE' PLUS TOUR UPDATE
This video features the touring line-up of the band for 2015...

rival sons RIVAL SONS WITHDRAW FROM SOUNDWAVE 2015
Australia will have to wait a little longer to see Rival Sons in the flesh as family matters take priority...

the answer THE ANSWER RELEASE BRAND NEW LYRIC VIDEO FOR TRACK 'LONG LIVE THE RENEGADES'
"The song is about just doing what you do best and having a bit of a bunker mentality..."

dead kennedys DEAD KENNEDYS ANNOUNCE UK AND EUROPE HEADLINE TOUR FOR JUNE 2015
US punk pioneers will bring their distincitve sound to four countries over ten dates...

carl sentance BREAKING NEWS: CARL SENTANCE ANNOUNCED AS NEW VOCALIST FOR NAZARETH
Persian Risk vocalist Carl Sentance replaces Linton Osbourne to start the next chapter for the Scottish hard rockers...

rockingham firefest BREAKING NEWS: ROCKINGHAM RELIGHTS THE FIREFEST; GOTTHARD, DAN REED, STAN BUSH AND MORE ANNOUNCED
The AOR flag will be raised high yet again over Nottingham Rock City...

pentagram PENTAGRAM RE-SIGNS WITH PEACEVILLE RECORDS - ALBUM RECORDING UNDERWAY
Through four decades of adversity and triumph, Pentagram have become a legendary international act...

uriah heep URIAH HEEP 2015 UK TOUR ANNOUNCED
This tour follows on from the release of the band's acclaimed album 'Outsider' which enjoyed excellent reviews...

godsmack GODSMACK VOCALIST SULLY ERNA TO MAKE AN ONLINE POKER COMEBACK
For Godsmack fans this could be disheartening as Erna shifts his attention from music to poker...

quo convention FIRST EVER STATUS QUO FAN CLUB CONVENTION ANNOUNCED
There will be live music, very special guests and a packed programme this October for this very special celebration...

queensryche THUNDER CONFIRMED AS VERY SPECIAL GUESTS TO ZZ TOP AT WEMBLEY ARENA PLUS MINI UK TOUR ANNOUNCED
The group's first studio album in six years, 'Wonder Days', reminds us why Thunder are now more revered than ever before...

queensryche QUEENSRŸCHE TO TOUR EUROPE AND RELEASE NEW ALBUM IN 2015
It's a busy year for Queensrÿche with headline shows and festival appearances before the new album release...

dir en grey dir en grey RETURN FOR TWO EXCLUSIVE SHOWS
The Islington O2 Academy will be the scene for Japanese avant-garde Metal in May...

unleashed SWEDISH LEGENDS UNLEASHED REVEAL ALBUM TITLE AND ARTWORK
The founders of the Viking Death Metal movement are back and as brutal as ever...

santa cruz SANTA CRUZ REVEAL LYRIC VIDEO FOR 'MY REMEDY'
Get a taste of the new album with 'My Remedy', the third single to be released...

Shattered sun LEGENDARY BRITISH MELODIC ROCKERS FM RETURN WITH 'HEROES & VILLAINS' ON APRIL 17TH
"We're on a roll! Some of the tracks on this album are better than anything that the band has ever produced, and Steve's voice is as good as ever..."

nightwish NIGHTWISH ANNOUNCE ONLY UK DATE THIS YEAR WITH ARCH ENEMY SUPPORTING
"Who would have thought about headlining at Wembley Arena one day when we were starting our UK touring history..."

quireboys THE QUIREBOYS GO UNPLUGGED AND PERSONAL: ACOUSTIC DATES ANNOUNCED
After last year's highly acclaimed unplugged tour, The Quireboys are pleased to announce a very intimate string of evenings early 2015...

killit KILLIT UNLEASH DEBUT VIDEO AND ANNOUNCE FIRST EVER LIVE SHOW
'Shut It Down' is the first single from the album and is out now and available...

state villains STATE VILLAINS TO RELEASE SECOND EP IN SPRING
State Villains have an honesty that harkens back to an era of integrity and a distinct lack of gimmicks...

chris slade BREAKING NEWS: CHRIS SLADE IS BACK IN AC/DC
Chris will rejoin the legendary hard rockers for their appearance at the 57th annual Grammy Awards as well as the band's upcoming tour...

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