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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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six feet under SIX FEET UNDER ALL SET TO RELEASE THEIR ELEVENTH STUDIO ALBUM 'CRYPT OF THE DEVIL'
The band's eleventh studio recording boasts ten murderous slabs of audio repugnance...

gwar METAL BLADE TO RE-ISSUE GWAR's 'AMERICA MUST BE DESTROYED'
'America Must Be Destroyed' is definitely their "heaviest" album. The hardest vocals, and the hardest music...

black sabbath BREAKING NEWS: TONY IOMMI POSTS POSITIVE HEALTH UPDATE AFTER BLACK SABBATH PULL OUT OF OZZFEST
Sabbath have given no reason for their decision to pull out and Tony posted the following message just after 6.30 this evening...

twisted sister BREAKING NEWS: TWISTED SISTER ANNOUNCE AJ PERO TRIBUTE CONCERT, FAREWELL TOUR AND AJ'S REPLACEMENT
"Dee Snider and the boys made the decision last month to call it quits - just one week before drummer AJ Pero died from a heart attack."

patti russo PATTI RUSSO ALL SET FOR APRIL/MAY UK DATES
Patti Russo made her name as Meat Loaf's female lead vocalist between 1993 and 2013 and tonight she sets out on a set of April and May UK dates...

skyclad MARTIN WALKYIER GOES SKYCLAD ANNOUNCED AS BEERMAGEDDON SATURDAY NIGHT HEADLINER
"Once again we will witness Skyclad in it's true glory, as intended from conception, the Skyclad that impacted Metal like no incarnation since..."

iron maiden IRON MAIDEN CATALOGUE NOW MASTERED FOR ITUNES
"I honestly feel that there is a massive improvement in the quality of these classic albums..."

skid row JOHNNY SOLINGER LEAVES SKID ROW; REPLACEMENT NAMED ALREADY
"We had a lot of great times together and created a lot of great music. We wish him nothing but the best."

sos festival SOS FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES SIX MORE BANDS
Skarlett Riot, The Raven Age, 13 Stars, Heartbreak Remedy, Liz Owen & Charlotte Hackett are added to the loaded bill this July...

ginger GINGER WILDHEART ANNOUNCES "SONGS & WORDS TOUR" APRIL/MAY 2015
"This is a tale of redemption, self discovery and, ultimately, battling the odds and winning on my own terms..."

megadeth ANGRA GUITARIST KIKO LOUREIRO JOINS MEGADETH
He will be Megadeth's tenth guitarist in the band's thirty year history and he replaces the departed Chris Broderick...

odium CANADA'S ODIUM ISSUE STUDIO UPDATE AND OFFER FREE SONG DOWNLOAD
As the album comes together in the studio, Odium have no plans to slow down on the live performance front...

videscape VIDESCAPE IS THE NEW WAY FOR MUSICIANS TO MAKE MORE MONEY FROM VIDEOS AND AUDIO
VidEscape is perhaps not a site many musicians and bands are familiar with but all that could change in the coming months...

van halen VAN HALEN SHUT DOWN HOLLYWOOD BLVD FOR SPECIAL JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE PERFORMANCE
The band performed a forty five minute set to fans who were given free tickets to attend the outdoor event...

status quo STATUS QUO TO ROCK ROCHESTER CASTLE FOR A RECORD FIFTH TIME
The Quo will perform at the picturesque Norman castle grounds on Wednesday July 15th with support from Steve Harley And Cockney Rebel...

skarlett riot SKARLETT RIOT ANNOUNCE UK TOUR
Dubbed the 'We Will Rise' Tour to promote their new EP, 'We Are The Brave', the band will be joined on the trek by The Raven Age...

whitesnake BREAKING NEWS: DEF LEPPARD/WHITESNAKE/BLACK STAR RIDERS ANNOUNCE DECEMBER UK TOUR
Tickets go on sale at 10.00am on 1st April from Live Nation UK with pre-sale and VIP ticketing information coming soon...

doro DORO CONFIRMED FOR ROCK IN RIO AND ANNOUNCES HUGE EUROPEAN TOUR
"This is amazing and a dream coming true. I think that we might also play my hymn 'All We Are'."...

wasp W.A.S.P. SIGN TO NAPALM RECORDS WITH NEW ALBUM SET FOR RELEASE THIS AUGUST
Almost six years have passed since the world saw a new studio album from Metal icons W.A.S.P...

evil scarecrow EVIL SCARECROW SET OFF FOR 'ROAD TO DOWNLOAD' TOUR
Grab the chance to catch the Nottingham maestros of Metal around the UK before their appearance at Download...

bruce dickinson IRON MAIDEN ISSUE BRUCE DICKINSON HEALTH UPDATE AS NEW PHOTOS OF BRUCE EMERGE
Things are looking very positive concerning the Bruce Dickinson cancer situation...

iron maiden IRON MAIDEN TO RECEIVE O2 SILVER CLEF AWARD
The iconic band have won the Outstanding Contribution To UK Music category...

the darkness THE DARKNESS REVEAL FIRST SINGLE 'OPEN FIRE'
The single and the forthcoming album 'Last Of Our Kind' promise an explosion of rock following the band's break ...

thunder THUNDER APPEAR ON WEEKEND WOGAN BBC RADIO SHOW
Thunder's new album 'Wonder Days' went straight into the Top Ten of the UK album charts and they have just completed a highly successful UK tour...

aj pero BANDMATES AND STARS PAY TRIBUTE TO TWISTED SISTER AND ADRENALINE MOB DRUMMER AJ PERO
Pero was on tour with Adrenaline Mob when members of that band were unable to rouse him on their bus on Friday morning...

red dragon cartel RED DRAGON CARTEL NAME MICHAEL THOMAS BECK IN LEAD VOCALIST CHANGE UP
Darren James Smith is out, and a new era begins. The saga continues...

walls of jericho WALLS OF JERICHO ARE ENTERING THE STUDIO
The band will start work shortly on their first full length album since 2008...

beyond forgotton shores DORMANT INFERNO & DIONYSUS ANNOUNCE SPLIT RELEASE 'BEYOND FORGOTTEN SHORES'
India's Transcending Obscurity label produces a Doom Metal double...

icon I.C.O.N SIGN TO METALBOX RECORDINGS
With a follow up album to 'New Born Lie' on the way and an extensive touring schedule, 2015 sees I.C.O.N in full flow...

soldierfield SOLDIERFIELD RELEASE OFFICIAL VIDEO FOR 'THE ONLY WAR'
The video is from the latest acclaimed release 'Catharsis'...

serpentine SERPENTINE ANNOUNCE THE RELEASE OF THEIR ALBUM 'CIRCLE OF KNIVES'
The new studio album contains ten brand new songs from the melodic rock quintet...

rival sons RIVAL SONS HAVE RECORDED EXCLUSIVE RECORD STORE DAY TRACKS
The limited edition 7" contains two previously unreleased songs...

styx STYX RELEASE 'LIVE AT THE ORLEANS ARENA LAS VEGAS'
The definitive live show is available on DVD, CD, Blu-ray and digital formats...

electric wizard ELECTRIC WIZARD CONFIRM FULL SUPPORTING CAST FOR HEADLINE SHOW AT THE ROUNDHOUSE IN LONDON
The Cosmic Dead, Purson and Moss are added to the May 15th bill...

mike porcaro MIKE PORCARO OF TOTO DEAD AT 59
The rock world was shook again on Sunday morning, March 15th 2015...

sick of it all SICK OF IT ALL LAUNCH NEW VIDEO FOR 'GET BRONX'
"This video serves to show people across the world that as gritty and unpretentious as hardcore music is, it still translates to the big stage and doesn't need a tiny, intimate atmosphere to work..."

steve hackett STEVE HACKETT LAUNCHES 'THE WHEEL'S TURNING' LYRIC VIDEO
"In contrast to the primal and gothic nature of much of the album, 'The Wheel's Turning' has a fun and nostalgic vibe..."

corbitt WARBEAST'S BRUCE CORBITT ISSUES UPDATE FOLLOWING HIS HEART SCARE
Bruce has been undergoing tests and has an important message to share...

enter shikari ENTER SHIKARI ANNOUNCE INTIMATE DOWNLOAD FESTIVAL WARM-UP SHOW
Catch the band at Bristol in June before their slot headlining Download's second stage...

tony iommi TONY IOMMI, NAPALM DEATH AND LAMB OF GOD APPEAL TO INDONESIAN PRESIDENT FOR BALI NINE DUO CLEMENCY
All artists are hopeful that their words will be persuasive and encourage President Widodo to grant clemency...

serpentyne MEDIEVAL FOLK ROCKERS SERPENTYNE UNLEASH NEW VIDEO FOR 'VALKYRIES'
Over the last few years their live show has become quite the spectacle...

tank TANK REVEAL ALBUM ARTWORK FOR 'VALLEY OF TEARS'
"He's injected so much new energy and inspiration into the band since joining us in 2013..."

mike portnoy MIKE PORTNOY IN MEGA "DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM" MOMENT AFTER HAVING TO WAIT AT HOSPITAL
However well intended, the post comes across as though he is expecting to jump the queue due to his "status"...

armored saint ARMORED SAINT TO RELEASE NEW ALBUM THIS SUMMER
"There's everything from classic Armored Saint rocker songs to epic songs and we all dug deep deliver something special..."

david gilmour DAVID GILMOUR ANNOUNCES 2015 SHOWS
The dates will coincide with the release of his as yet untitled fourth solo studio album...


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