GIG REVIEW: An Evening With DEVIN TOWNSEND At All Saints Church, Brighton
Owais 'Vitek' Nabi
Devin Townsend first came under my radar through his work with guitar virtuoso Steve Vai. I must admit that at the time ‘Sex & Religion’ was lost on the thrash metal and guitar instrumental shredder fan I was at the time. But as I’ve matured the album has resonated with me more and more. Devin Townsend was a name to vanish from my foresight into the distance until I started my journey into death metal and a friend rubbed Strapping Young Lad’s ‘City’ under my nose. Since then I’ve followed Devin’s work.
‘City’ is one of those records that I can continue to hear its influence today. Its so seminally death metal – ferocious, with clinical almost surgical execution. From Strapping Young Lad Devin has had various solo projects and the material ranges from death metal through grunge to pop. I was surprised to hear tracks such as ‘Addicted’ and ‘Eh ah’ across my journey but support an artist who doesn’t want to pigeonhole himself and writes from his heart. We can’t be angry all the time and constantly use gun metal grey as our artistic weapon of choice.
The craftsmanship of the songs is consistent across the spectrum and that’s why an artist such as Devin can pull off an acoustic gig in a church. Whilst being a gimmick in itself, just think about most churches. These building are signs of power from a previous lifetime when the churches oppressed and ordered, let’s not even begin to think what would have happened if metal was played in a church back in the days of the demonic flat 5th, as a result you end up with the most beautiful and intricately designed venues that with the right artist create a therapeutic atmosphere. It’s a shame that the acoustics of a church only lend themselves to atmospheric artists as I can think of a few bands it’d be great to see in this setting. Behemoth for one.
The vibe of the concert was very much that of a therapy session. I think more so for Devin, but the crowd are included as passengers on his journey. His openness with how he is feeling, the stories behind a few songs – such as eh ah being composed from a dream he had, small parts of crowd interaction and overall use of comedy created such a beautiful togetherness. That first note he sung *shivers* I knew I was in for a great show. ‘Love’ was performed as an almost american coir piece, Devin making the track into more of a Nick Cave track with a very stern almost sexy overtone. ‘Juular’ received a more vaudeville treatment with plenty of crowd interaction. There were moments were Devin stumbled but it was almost a part of the act. Ultimately, these types of gigs are a peek behind the curtain and allow the artist to open up and reach out to their fans.
Devin is a modern day Frank Zappa, he says what he feels and has no regrets and also writes music using all colors and breaking all of the rules. He is a true artist who loves his fans and I’d recommend seeing him live.