Devin Townsend Project

support Periphery + Shining
author LF date 25/03/15 venue Amager Bio, Copenhagen, DEN

Since I fell ill when I was supposed to see Devin Townsend Project in Aarhus last week, there was never a doubt in my mind when I was then given the opportunity to catch him in Copenhagen tonight instead. Even though I am not too familiar with the man's various musical projects, I have seen enough people describing him with awe written in their faces to be extremely curious about him and his live shows. Add to that one mental Norwegian band and one extremely skilled American one, and there's really no reason to stay at home this evening.

You can check out more cool pictures on Philip B. Hansen's website

Shining

First on the bill we have a Norwegian band playing a very heavy version of avantgarde metal dubbed "blackjazz" by the band, as the title of one of their albums also tells us. Led by the screaming, growling and saxophone playing Jørgen Munkeby, they take us through some extremely eclectic compositions that I can best describe as a surprisingly well-working mix between chaotic elements of both metal and jazz improvisations, unified by a heavy techno-like backdrop supplied by their keyboardist. In particular the surprisingly groovy "Fisheye" makes an impression on me with its characteristic electronic melodies and maniacal repetition of the numbers "1, 3, 7, 5!". Munkeby's Norwegian remarks drown in the sound for most of the set, but that doesn't hinder the audience in appreciating and understanding the music coming from the stage. While this might all sound like a weird description and an unlikely musical marriage as well, and while I see many a crowd member smile and laugh in disbelief at the craziness going on before them, it doesn't take long before the energy that Shining radiate from the stage is infecting us in the crowd. Halfway through the set, most people are banging their heads to the music and indulging Munkeby with rhythmic "Oi!" yells and this continues straight through to the end of their set that finishes with the solid and highly energetic "I Won't Forget". All in all a nice surprise and a good start to the evening.

7

Periphery

Up next is the band whose back catalog I am most familiar with tonight namely the djent/prog metal wizards in Periphery. After having spent some time with their recently released, massive double album "Juggernaut: Alpha" and "Juggernaut: Omega", I am all up for witnessing some of their technical but also groovy tunes live tonight. Unfortunately vocalist Spencer Sotelo is suffering from a cold, as he proclaims quickly after they've taken the stage, and he encourages the crowd to sing along with him so that he won't be left to "sounding like a dying dog" on his own. While Sotelo struggles with some of his more demanding melodies, he still does an alright job tonight, especially on his growls, and luckily the instrumental side of things is unaffected by such illness.

With just one song from each of their previous albums on the set list tonight, most of their set consists of newer material from the double album, but that certainly doesn't keep the bulk of the audience from rocking out to the songs and throwing horns in the general direction of the band. "22 Faces" makes for a mid-set highlight with its magnificent chorus that makes a good impression both in the skill level of its riffs and gut-hitting lyrical delivery. As is often the case with bands that play very technically demanding music, the band members themselves aren't overly active on the stage, except for a couple of energetic outbursts by Sotelo where he runs to the sides of the stage as if to make sure that we're all still with them. As we near the ending of their set, the electronic intro of "Alpha" has a good part of the crowd stirring in approving recognition but it's not before Sotelo resolutely points out a ringleader to start a circle pit during last song "Graveless" that the crowd really gets moving. In the end, the set never takes my breath away to the degree that I had expected, despite being a fairly solid effort from a very skilled band.

Setlist:

  • 1. Icarus Lives!
  • 2. Make Total Destroy
  • 3. The Scourge
  • 4. Psychosphere
  • 5. 22 Faces
  • 6. The Bad Thing
  • 7. Alpha
  • 8. Graveless

Devin Townsend Project

A good while before the headliner takes the stage we are treated to hilariously photoshopped pictures of the man himself on the two big screens that fill the sides of the stage, before an extensive animated video presents his alter ego, the alien Ziltoid, and his plans to take over the world. In general, the visual accompaniment to the show underlines the sentiment of Townsend's inventive and metal-founded music well with various video snippets merging to create a very specific universe that mixes sci-fi robots and aliens with new-age and pseudo-science imagery and general shots of nature and the universe. Even though it is the name of the Devin Townsend Project on the bill, the material on Townsend's set list tonight doesn't restrict itself to the songs only released under that name as they are mixed with songs released under his solo moniker as well. This only further underlines the fact that it is without a doubt the man himself who's in focus on the stage tonight.

It's clear from the second he enters with his neon-glowing guitar that the entire crowd has an enormous respect for him and it doesn't take many minutes for him on stage before I'm convinced as well that this respect is justified. One of Townsend's extremely strong sides is that he is such a likable guy on stage while still managing to inspire awe. While most of his songs are very serious he is somewhat of a joker himself but in a very casual way as he rants about wanting to do Marge Simpson in the bum and how none of us prog metallers in the room tonight probably got laid as teenagers. This leads to one of the most entertaining moments of the evening as he easily convinces us all to join together and sing along to "Lucky Animals" while doing awkward jazz hands.

Like Periphery, Townsend has also got a cold and that is really the biggest shame about tonight's show, as his multi-faceted singing voice is obviously one of the key elements to admire in his music. While I can't say there's a single song on the set list that I don't enjoy listening to tonight, an impressive achievement in itself, some songs like the beautiful "Storm" and the swirling "Rejoice" doesn't quite do justice to their studio versions due to Townsend's troubled voice. That being said, "Rejoice" still provides a highlight of the set due to its powerful composition and beautiful instrumentation just like "March Of The Poozers" also stands out with its stubbornly forward-marching tempo and operatic chorus. All in all, Townsend's performance here does leave me impressed but as before, it's a little less than I had expected. I am however sure to be there the next time this guy's in town since it seems without a doubt that he would really blow me away if he wasn't going through a vicious cold.

8

Setlist:

  • 1. Truth
  • 2. Deathray
  • 3. Namaste
  • 4. Night
  • 5. Storm
  • 6. Hyperdrive
  • 7. Rejoice
  • 8. Addicted!
  • 9. March Of The Poozers
  • 10. A New Reign
  • 11. Lucky Animals
  • 12. Life
  • 13. Christeen
  • 14. Ih-Ah!
  • 15. Kingdom

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