Devin Townsend Project
18th May 2017
Powerstation, Auckland, New Zealand.
It was a night for the two-timers on a blustery and chilly weeknight visit from sleepmakeswaves and The Devin Townsend Project at Auckland’s Powerstation; with both bands returning to our shores for their second ever NZ visits, for the delight of our prog metal fans. A solid turn-out for Sydney group sleepmakeswaves, was in the house early and ready to rock out as these Aussie lads put on an enjoyable set for us. sleepmakeswaves if you haven’t experienced them yet; are all about that precision, masters of mid-song tempo change and bringing super catchy and tappable tunes. Each member is bent over his instrument thrashing it out in his own reverie it seems, yet is right there threaded into the rhythm alongside each member, in perfection. Entrancing and meditative, each member sets to work exorcising their demon tunes; especially the drummer Tim Adderley who is a focussed madman, a blur of dark hair completely consumed in the beat he’s creating and thrashing so hard at one point that he did indeed snap his sticks. Frontman/Bassist/Keyboardist Alex Wilson carefully introduces the next new track from their forthcoming record as being “Prog as fuck” and announces that they’ve “never played it anywhere else in the world before” and it was gooood and sleepmakeswaves looked like they were happy with how it went over to this very discerning crowd.
Warmly received and applauded loudly, there’s something so special about seeing a band move through their set in such syncopation, perfection and skill, in tune to each other with songs that are well crafted and sincerely delivered. Before leaving us to prepare for Devy, Alex took a moment to express gratitude saying “…thank you all so much for coming out early and checking out our music it means so much, we like to make music that makes you feel like you’re on a journey and we’d like to thank Devin Townsend Project so much for having us here and share this stage with them, they mean a lot to us and we’ve learned so much about how to make music from them, thank you for being here with us!” Closing out their set and opening up the evening for the main event with a sense of excitement, sleepmakeswaves will be remembered fondly on this appearance I’m sure.
It’s always a quick turnaround time at Powerstation for gear swap outs and during the brief wait we were treated to some selected cuts courtesy of that coffee seeking intergalactic wanderer and thought-leader, Ziltoid and his Ziltoid Radio show. Spice Girls Spice Up Your Life infiltrated the space, with added Ziltoid sound bites and a delicious burn of “Take that metal nerds” from Ziltoid himself to close out the song before cleansing our aural palette with Meshuggah – that Ziltoid knows whats we likes; and it spoke volumes about the fun and funny night ahead we could expect to enjoy. As purple searchlights washed across the stage and crowd, the Devin Townsend Project members moved to stage and claimed their places, while trotting out happily is Devin Townsend, delightfully calling to the crowd “Hi guys are you ready for some awkward proggy bullshit? My names Devin and I’m totally not jet lagged!”, although I’m not sure why he prefaced because Devin looked fresh as a daisy and we were excited! Let the evening of operatic, cinematic, prog-a-matic metal begin!
Slicing and perfect with each note, Devin and ‘Project are hamming it up with the friendly facial expressions and making full use of the stage space, as Devin nods and waves to faces in the crowd working the whole room like some Vegas showman, except way more brutal and cool…obviously. Devin requests that we get on board with his request; “I’m going to ask you to do a lot of heavy metal bullshit tonight, just cause I’m desperate for your validation…so that this self-awareness is only partially crippling for us!” excited to be assigned a task, we collectively remembered to watch out for our directives later on. Ripping expertly through tracks from Transcendence, Epicloud, Epiclouder and Addicted; it was a two song slab of Stormbending and Failure that really cemented the moment between Devin and crowd as we’re in full appreciation mode and Devin is carving it up with his incredible range and the swooping metal journey the ‘project is providing us.
Obviously the evening is crammed with humour too, some of the topics of joviality for Devin’s musings: piss-taking on his own Canadianness, dubious 80s blowjobs and their song inspiration qualities, the pros and cons of the unconditional nature of a dog’s love for their owner and that the “platform [of] metal, it comes in a variety of emotions, shapes, colours and dohickeys.” Scorching hot in the venue, as we’re rounding out with Poozer and Kingdom; Devin makes a hilarious three bit routine of the encore performer / crowd expectation legacy at gigs and enlarges it for ridicule to our absolute amusement, with lots of looking at the watch “gotta go” miming and camping it up.
Devin loves his crowd of this there is no denying. He stuffs toys down his shirt that he’s been gifted from the sea of faces , he has little moments with seemingly everyone, heckles back at folks hurling (loving) cheeky quips at him from the crowd and by the time Devin does return to the stage for an encore with an acoustic guitar, it’s then we know we’ve seen something special. To bring it back to the glory of screaming guitar mastery; the rendition of Higher is so freaking good complete with the last cheesy metal move of Devin and Co. front and centre, machine-gun sweeping us with their guitars and I loved it; when it’s all over, we can’t leave and never can Devin. As the house lights go up and many filter out of the venue, Devin takes his time moving from the left to the right of the stage, shaking as many hands in the front row as possible, bending forward and actually chatting for ages to each person, interested and connecting; handing set lists to people who specifically requested them and he does this with his fans for at least ten minutes before turning and fare welling anyone still lingering and watching. An absolute gentlemen performer who is warm and funny and had the crowd in stitches; honestly I can’t remember the last time I’ve laughed that much at a gig and it’s for all the right reasons. Join us again soon please Heavy Devy!
Devin Townsend Project:
Were you there at Powerstation for this magnificent metal masterpiece? Or have you seen Devin Townsend Project live somewhere else? Tell us about it in the comments below!