He’s a strange one, is Devin Townsend; Despite being easily one of the most visionary figures doing the rounds in modern metal, his apparent inability to actually acknowledge that standing leads him to constantly parody himself (and, by extension, his fans) in a seemingly endless post modern cycle of build-up, break down. Even before opening track of the night here on a pleasantly mild Brisbane night, Rejoice, has gotten into it’s stride he’s warning us that we’ll be required to indulge in ‘cheesy rock stuff’; At the end of a quite superb reading of oldie Night he tells the audience they, like him, are probably all nerds before delivering the first true classic performance of the night in a truly triumphant Stormbending.
The point being, he really doesn’t need all the goofy mugging to camera and self-deprecating schtick that gets doled out. On the evidence of tracks like Stormbending the man is quite clearly a genius, and, for this reviewer at least, that’s enough. The solo he plays on next track Failure is almost worth the price of admission alone, the epic, anthemic nature of the track’s refrain carrying the crowd – The Triffid is pretty much sold out tonight – into new heights of willing, sweaty compliance.
Hyperdrive, from Ziltoid the Omniscient – which I really didn’t like at the time of its release in 2007 – is tonight transformed into sleek, Priest-inspired space metal, all dramatic chugging and cinematic bombast, whilst the more delicate Where We Belong has mutated into a stately power ballad and features some more nice lead work. Deadhead, from 2003’s Accelerated Evolution anchors the middle of the set, though it’s subdued nature does see it drifting a little mid song before a savage howl from Townsend focusses the crowd again.
But if Deadhead’s somnolent majesty risks all but the most committed Devin devotees nodding off, the pseudo-thrash barrage that kicks off Ziltoid Goes Home rallies the troops again, it’s jagged riffage getting the blood pumping and the throats working again.
Supercrush is quite magnificent, sounding remarkably like fellow Canadians Saga, if Saga played out-and-out heavy metal. Townsend’s vocals are fabulous here, commanding, strong and melodic, and this is definitely the highlight of the set for Sentinel Daily. March of The Poozers is a throwaway bauble that the devout gathered at the front of the stage are happy to adore, but is just a bit too arch to live with the true majesty of Supercrush, despite clearly being a huge crowd favourite. For some reason Willy Wonka always springs to mind when I hear this song, which is clearly my problem as opposed to anyone else’s, and, although it’s greeted with pleasure bordering on delirium – especially by the two bald headed chaps standing next to me in matching, newly-minted tour shirts, it’s just a bit of a let down.
Last song of the set proper Kingdom is prefaced with more deconstructional patter about the ridiculousness of encores, before the band play a three song encore, but for all my moaning there’s very little dissent from the crowd during all this, apart from one nicely refreshed chap wearing some sort of cape who enquired of me what Devin was ‘monging on about’ during this final spiel. You clearly can’t please everybody, but in the final washup this will be seen as another triumphant performance from Devin Townsend and his very excellent Project.
Photographs Courtesy of Kathryn Adams/Little Red Birdy