I’ll start this one by saying that the Thornbury Theatre is a magnificent venue and it was honestly the perfect setting to see the manic mastermind Devin Townsend play a stripped back and intimate acoustic show. Having seen Dev countless times over the last decade with the Devin Townsend Project, I had grown accustom to seeing him in a loud and boastful setting with enormous production. I was eager to see the legend himself in a more isolated and vulnerable environment and my goodness, the man delivered in spades.
All formalities were off and out the window the moment that Devin took the stage. Calm and casual, he jovially introduced himself and welcomed the crowd before launching into his first set. It would be easy to look at Devin’s vast discography and think that the majority of it wouldn’t translate to an acoustic performance, but this definitely wasn’t the case. From the classic Strapping Young Lad cut ‘Love?” to the blissful ‘Coast’ from Ki, the man was unafraid to explore every avenue of his musical legacy.
Two key things stood out to me throughout the evening. Firstly, Devin’s vocal range is simply out of this world. One moment fragile and subtle, the next moment boastfully bellowing and screaming to the sold out room. Never missing a beat and full of charisma. Secondly, it’s clear that at this point in his career he’s such a seasoned performer that it doesn’t matter if he’s on stage by himself or backed by an ensemble, no matter what the scenario, he will have the entire room captivated and in the palm of his hand.
My favourite aspect of the night was definitely how free and relaxed Devin was. Rather than a rigid, paint by numbers performance of songs, there was a certain fluidity to his playing that was remarkably entertaining. He was more than happy to take a pause and share anecdotes about his 30 year career and the backgrounds of certain songs. As a long time Devin fan, these moments were something truly special and shed enormous light on aspects of his career that were largely unknown to me. I applaud the man for bearing his soul and diving deep into his history for the fans in attendance.
It’s important to recognise how respectful and attentive the audience was. Far too often I’ve been in attendance at acoustic performances of this nature and felt the performer constantly having to battle with chatter from the audience or heckling. Kudos to those in attendance for keeping quiet and simply being enthralled by the performance.
All in all, the three hours passed by in an instant and was truly riveting from start to finish. The Q&A portion of the evening was also filled with insightful and hilarious stories and was a great palette cleanser before Devin’s second set of music. Not many people could strip back their music to the bare bones and perform it to a sold out theatre, so I applaud the legend for putting himself in such a vulnerable position and delivering a Devin Townsend performance unlike any I had seen before.
Read our most recent interview with Devin Townsend here.