Devin Townsend Project - Cable Factory, Helsinki, Finland, 30.03.2011
|Event:||Devin Townsend Project: European Tour|
|Written by:||Ivor, .mrt|
Devin Townsend Project - Cable Factory, Helsinki, Finland, 30.03.2011 by Ivor (31)
Don't you just hate it when there are no good gigs of interest in the vicinity for a long period of time? Yeah, we've all been down that road at one point or another, some more often than others, but I think we can all relate. For me, it had been almost four months of nothing since the awesome Therion gig back in December. And even after all this time I had to take a trip from Tallinn to Helsinki for something worthwhile to see. Thus, at the end of March in the very middle of the working week I found myself and a friend of mine undertaking a ferry trip to see the Devin Townsend Project perform.
However, it was not just the Devin Townsend Project that I wanted to see. The final gigs of the tour up in Northern Europe were supported by Shining [NOR]. Not the Swedish black metal band but the Norwegian jazz band gone avant-garde and schizophrenic. Yeah, that crazy band. It's not like I was terribly blown away by their latest Blackjazz album but since it felt kind of "like having your brain smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick" - that has got to be one of the more awesome comparisons Douglas Adams ever came up with - I had a bit of a masochistic curiosity to see how such music could be brought on stage.
To be honest, I wasn't impressed by the result that much. On one hand they were like any ordinary metal band: guitars, bass, drums, and keys. Occasionally a sax made its appearance when the singer wished it so. In a way seeing the extraordinary wall of sound being brought about by ordinary men on ordinary instruments kind of took the mystic edge off their music. It was sort of brought to the ground and made you think, "Oh, that's how you do it." On the other hand, which is probably also to blame for the feeling of ordinariness, are the acoustics of the venue. I'll come back to it later but let me just say that the vast hall we were in wasn't favouring them, diminishing their effect so they felt not exactly puny but still kind of small. Shining [NOR] appear more like a band to be heard in a small venue where there's no free space for retreat, you are pressed against the back wall and are repeatedly pounded with sacks of potatoes by angry Norse men until you learn to fully appreciate their craft.
1. The Madness And The Damage Done (Blackjazz)
2. Fisheye (Blackjazz)
3. Exit Sun (Blackjazz)
4. HEALTER SKELTER (Blackjazz)
5. 21st Century Schizoid Man (King Crimson cover) (Blackjazz)
To paraphrase (or to paraquote but I'm sure that's not even a word) Douglas Adams again, "Vell, Devin's just zis guy, you know?" If Devin Townsend had two heads and three arms he could equal and possibly surpass Zaphod Beeblebrox on the level of cool without a doubt. Sure enough, if you haven't seen Devin Townsend on stage, you have missed quite a bit. It's not just the great music he makes, it's all his stage presence and antics, humour and insults thrown at you. It's nice to get special treatment from the heart, don't you think so?
Before the gig we had a round-table interview scheduled with Devin and I found out that he is actually a really cool guy in person, somewhat different from what he is on stage. Anyway, having seen Devin perform last Summer at Hellfest I more or less knew what to expect from his stage show. And I got it, though in a far more elaborate form. Starting the gig with disco songs, insults thrown, jokes made, faces twisted that leave Steven Tyler and Mick Jagger in the dust - we had all of it. As you can guess, a separate gig is always far more superior to the short compressed format of a festival. Transitions between the moods were also far more smooth, ranging during the gig from anything between raging Ziltoid The Omniscient to mellow Ki.
However, personally, the real treat was the special guest appearance by non other than Anneke van Giersbergen who did some vocals on the Addicted album and decided to join Devin on stage for these last shows of the tour. And it did make a huge difference on stage. It had this sort of spontaneous feeling to it, the performance being more alive and immediate. Her vocals added a great touch to Devin's music and by my reckoning she did more singing than on the album. I think Devin ought to team up with her, or possibly some other female singer on a more regular basis. It adds an enjoyable counter-weight to his crazy presence.
So far all seems awesome, right? Well... yeah, no. The problem of the event is the venue I totally hated. It's called Kaapelitehdas, or the Cable Factory, and it's an old, huge, some 4-story high industrial building that's been turned into a sort of presentable gig place. Okay, we do have something similar here in Tallinn, namely Rock Cafe. But while Rock Cafe is decent in size and even at some point feels cosy, the Cable Factory is ridiculously big. First of all it is too high, secondly it is not nearly wide enough, and lastly it is so freaking long I'm having doubts its insides exist in the same physical dimensions as its outsides.
So, the aftermath of performing in a venue like the Cable Factory is that the band seems to be on a comparatively small stage, far away and not having enough sound to properly reach even the centre of the hall without the interference from the acoustics of the building. And while it can house a lot of people, which is by no means a bad thing, being narrow as it is and packed, it made me think that it's been quite a bit of time since I was that far back at a show. Even at the festivals with over ten thousand visitors I've managed to be closer to the stage. Not that I need to be in the front row but I do hate being in the back where all the action you get is sometimes less than watching paint dry.
1. Addicted! (Addicted) (with Anneke van Giersbergen)
2. Supercrush! (Addicted) (with Anneke van Giersbergen)
3. Numbered! (Addicted) (with Anneke van Giersbergen)
4. Kingdom (Physicist) (with Anneke van Giersbergen)
5. Deadhead (Accelerated Evolution)
6. Truth (Infinity)
7. OM (Christeen Plus Four Demos)
8. By Your Command (Ziltoid The Omniscient) (with Anneke van Giersbergen)
9. Hyperdrive! (Addicted) (with Anneke van Giersbergen)
10. Life (Ocean Machine: Biomech) (with Anneke van Giersbergen)
11. Earth Day (Terria)
12. Bad Devil (Infinity) (with Anneke van Giersbergen)
13. Color Your World (Ziltoid The Omniscient)
14. The Greys (Ziltoid The Omniscient)
16. Deep Peace (Terria)
17. Bend It Like Bender! (Addicted) (with Anneke van Giersbergen and some lucky people from the crowd)
In conclusion I have to say that while I'm happy to have seen one of the special final gigs of the European tour, I left the venue with a bit of a sour taste. Devin and his band were awesome, Anneke even more so. Calling some 20 fans on stage for the last song of the encore was an especially nice gesture from Devin. However, the said venue did injustice to the band. Such a shame that one. And I was kind of hoping that maybe Devin would bring Ziltoid on stage in the flesh... khm, in the puppet, not only on video screens but there I was wrong. Oh, well, maybe next time.
Devin Townsend Project: www.hevydevy.com, MySpace
Shining [NOR]: www.shining.no, MySpace
Kaapelitehdas or the Cable Factory: www.kaapelitehdas.fi
PS. Special thanks to Maiju and Marika from Frontier Promotion for accreditation and arranging the interview.
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