[LIVE REVIEW] Devin Townsend Project @ 170 Russell, Melbourne 24/05/2017

Review Cassandra Hale

Sydney band sSleepmakeswaves were a very fitting opener for what was to be an amazing night of prog rock at its finest.  I can’t say I have seen an instrumental band before so it was a new experience for me, but I was pleasantly surprised. These guys were really good, their music was innovative with lots of changes as you would expect from the genre. The barefooted drummer Tim Adderley was extremely technical and his skills evident in every song. Their love for progressive music was obvious from the get-go, with this tight foursome genuinely invested and enjoying every second of the 40-minute set.

Melbourne music goers turned up early to check out the support act, nothing new for me, but for the band, it was huge, their biggest turnout of the tour. From what I saw sleepmakeswaves were enjoyed by all, heads nodding in approval throughout the set. Melbournians love their live music and are always happy to support all bands on the bill, not just the main attraction.

If progressive rock/metal is your thing and you are looking for something new give sleepmakeswaves a spin, I am sure you will not be disappointed.  I can’t believe they have been playing for 11 years and I am only hearing them now.

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Packed to the rafters and then some, the first show of the Devin Townsend Project’s Transcendence tour sold out in rapid fashion and hence a second show was added on the Tuesday night.  Can I say I was utterly blown away by this show, absolutely amazing from go to whoa. What a frontman and performer Devin Townsend is, his fan interaction is like nothing I have ever seen before, so grateful for his fans and letting them know it at every opportunity. His jokes and banter with the fans were fabulous and I can see why he has such a huge fanbase.

Right on time, opening with Rejoice it was evident that Devin was unwell, but it only took one song for a sore throat to be put on the back burner and deliver one of the best prog metal show I have seen. Night followed and the crowd swelled forward heads banging in unison. Everything you wanted to hear was there, Stormbending, Failure, and Hyperdrive set the fans on fire, and we all sang our hearts out to Where we Belong and I think Devin was grateful for a reprieve if only for a minute or two.

Deadhead, Ziltoid Goes Home and Supercrush flowed perfectly in this amazing arc of music, which tells a story like no other, smokes cannons heightened the show and the well-behaved crowd reveled in the special effects. Musically and technically perfect, Ryan VanPoederooyen was a demon on drums, with some insane double bassing, raising the bar very high for any prospective progressive drummers out there. Full credit to Dave Young, Brian ‘Beav’ Waddell and Mike St-Jean, all first class musicians who make the show what it is, but I neglected to watch them as much as I should as I was almost mesmerised by Devin. His voice, his facial expressions, and banter was almost a show in itself.

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The atmosphere was electric as March of the Poozers rang out, followed by Kingdom which sent the fans into a frenzy of banging heads and pumping fists. It was now that we had a ‘pretend’ encore, it worked well as we chanted for more while the band lapped up the applause. Then time to sing along to Ih-Ah, this slowed proceedings for a few minutes and it was interesting to learn that this song came to Devin in a dream, hence the strange name. He is very forthcoming with insight into his songwriting which as a fan gives you a deeper connection to the music you love. Another reason to applaud this highly talented musician.

The Death of Music, followed by Higher off the latest album Transcendence finished up the night. Higher was technically perfect in every way, and a damn fine song to end the night on a massive high. We all witnessed Devin using throat spray during the night to assist his voice, and although unwell he still made time to shake hands and say thank you to his fans long after the band had left the stage.  While he can sing with such angst and torment, he is also a gentleman that any mother would be proud to call their son.  The perfect face of progressive metal. There is one show left in Perth, and if you haven’t got tickets, do it now!