Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Gig Review - The Devin Townsend Project wi Turisas @The Academy DubliNovember 8th 2011

On entering The Academy tonight, and lining up with the black shirted masses for a quick snoop at the merch stand in the front hall, a couple of things start to grab your attention.First off, it's only after opening, and the place is already rammed with punters, so much that security are having to keep order in a quite noticeable way in queues for both tickets and the obligatory tees and assorted tat.Secondly, among said tat, nestled in among the various t-shirts and hoods is an oddly cute, albeit hideously so, puppet of a coffee addicted alien for sale, which various punters possibly old enough to know better are snapping up for a not inconsiderable fifteen beans.Thirdly, there is an atmosphere prevalent tonight more akin to a bunch of ADD scoffing toddlers on Christmas eve than your average boozed up heavy metal crowd.The reason? Just the visitation tonight of a certain bonkers Canadian guitar genius, and his otherworldly minions. .  .

First up though are  euro festival staples Turisas( 7/10), plying their fun  , if ever so slightly overcooked folk metal wares in front of an extremely appreciative crowd.It's a nice warm up , and very much appropriate to the party vibe going on here tonight, with the band all shit eating grins and synchronised headbanging, their Lord Of The Rings meets NWOBHM tunes getting the crowd clapping , moshing and singing early on.The highlight , as always, is their bizarrely addictive cover of   German 1970's disco fiends Boney M's hit 'Rasputin'.However, a feeling of repetition, not to mention frontman  Mathias Nygard 's bizarre, rambling attempts at crowd banter, detract from an otherwise enjoyable support set.

Warming up a predominantly metal crowd with a mix tape of nineties pop hits normally would go down like a paternity suit at a Bieber family BBQ.Broadcasting said mix tape with interludes from your foul mouthed mascot, in this case the aforementioned coffee loving space lord Ziltoid,here incarnated as a potty mouth DJ, might be viewed as equally out of place in other circumstances.However, this is no ordinary heavy metal show, and,  as the photoshopped images of master of ceremonies Devin Townsend in various iconic poses(Mona Lisa,Star Wars, you name it) shows, tonight is as much about partying and having a laugh as it is about having your ears raped by some of the best progressive metal songs ever written .

And when the man himself finally hits the stage with the bombastic double header of 'ZTO' and 'By Your Command', excitement levels reach fever pitch, and it seems that no one's more excited than Mr Mental himself, Mr Devin Townsend.Putting 99 per cent of metal frontmen to absolute shame, Dev stomps, snarls,prowls , gurns and of course shreds like no one on earth, all the  while displaying the vocal talents that caught the eyes and ears of a certain Steve Vai all those years ago.In between songs, he's the perfect mixture of rabble rousing crowd pleaser, lurid and sharp stand up comedian, and charming host, simultaneously revelling in and ripping the piss out of the usual rock cliches.

The set itself ain't bad either, in fact, it's a superbly paced cocktail of a large portion of Townsend's repertoire , taking in , to name just a few, the epic stomp of 'Truth', the furious rock and roll of 'Bat Devil', the ethereal beauty of 'Supercrush', and the outrageously warped battery of 'Juular'.'Life' is every bit as wonderful and uplifting as it is on record, with Townsend gleefully proclaiming his own love of life to the baying crowd during, a lovely sentiment given the great man's self confessed battle with bi-polar disorder, while the crushing 'Regulator' steamrolls the audience into slavering submission.The spacey, sinister and sublime 'Disruptr' meanwhile , is as menacing and sensual as it is on record, his bandmembers acquitting themselves  excellently, and even the usually dire Academy PA rises to the occasion somewhat, and the sound is mostly decent, with a couple of minor mix problems, and the usual problems with high end.

A blistering encore of 'lighter moment' 'Deep Peace'  pretty much seals tonight's emotional high, while closer 'Bend It Like Bender' , complete with(a very organised) mini stage invasion, sends us out into the brisk November night as a bunch of grinning, slobbering idiots, eager for more, and still reeling from the aural beating we've just endured.Demented, hilarious, and brilliant, it's been an exhilarating ride,and one which you should sample should it come a travelling to your town sometime . . .


Stephen O ' Connor

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