Metropolis Fremantle, Fremantle WA
November 8th, 2023
Support: Chaos Divine
If you live in the democratic republic of West Australia you might be forgiven for thinking the state has seceded when it comes to international touring bands. Time and time again Perth metal heads are seen scrolling down the list of dates and venues after a tour announcement to find the promotor has once again assumed the golden west is terra nullius. But not this time, thanks to promotors The Phoenix and Soundworks Touring teaming up we get Devin Townsend in the west.
The ’gamble’ paid off almost immediately with ticket sales exceeding expectations and a venue upgrade announced. So here we are on a school night at Metros Fremantle and the anticipation of seeing Devin Townsend live again is almost palpable.
But before we get to Heavy Devy there’s a special guest for this show only with local prog legends Chaos Divine getting the hallowed opening slot. Looking around the room I wasn’t expecting to see so many punters taking in the early set. With international bands quite often the opening act are not given the respect they deserve with many waiting for the main event. Not so tonight, by the eight o’clock kick off time the place was full. Every vantage point was taken with the upstairs balcony area jam packed. Chaos Divine are a class act and their off kilter time signatures and proggy goodness are the perfect accompaniment to the eclectic genius of Devin Townsend. It was great to see so many witnessing the quality of the band. Playing prog and hailing from Perth is not necessarily a recipe for success but off the back of tonights performance these guys are one break away from becoming a household name.
But the night belonged to Devin Townsend and his band of merry men. Canadian winter into a West Australian summer-like-spring is a shock to anyone’s system. So we were reminded they’d just flown 30 hours to be with us and if there were any mistakes, miscues or missed notes to blame the jet lag and seasonal changes. But the Canadian maestro was just f*cking with us, they didn’t miss a beat … Side bar – they may have missed the odd beat and solo but the enigmatic Canuck wove it into the show with his trademark humour it was hard to know what was deliberate or what wasn’t.
Townsend puts absolutely everything into his live show, but he’s not alone. Surrounded by a band with a work ethic to match his own, they are also insanely talented. None more than the man introduced as “playing everything else” multi-instrumentalist Mike Keneally. While Townsend may have an instrument he couldn’t touch with the theremin, Keneally was all hands on deck simultaneously playing keyboards and guitar. In between touching on jokes about his penis to not touching the most ridiculous of all instruments the theremin, Devin had the punters eating out of the palm his hand.
Being a prolific songwriter comes with the odd downside. The most obvious is if you have 30 albums under your belt, there’s a sure bet you’re not going to play someone’s favourite song. There’s no point in even trying, but for a little over an hour and a half albums and genres were covered as well as they could be. For the introspective, there were tracks of the latest offering Lightwork, if Heavy Devy is more your thing Strapping Young Lad had you covered. Regardless of what album or iteration of Townsend, every intro to every song got a huge cheer from the crowd. To be honest, you had to wait for the intro to recognise the song as many were introduced as being written about “stuff”. Devin writes about stuff, deep, thoughtful and magical stuff. Stuff that makes you want to bang your head or dance like no one is watching.
A Devin Townsend show is a heavy metal carnival so it’s not without its surprises. During the encore a lucky punter going by the name Jay had Devin and the entire crowd at Metros Freo singing happy birthday to them to mark their 21st. That’s gotta be the coolest birthday present ever!
This tour has either sold out, or is selling out around the country. So if this school night in WA was anything to go by, those of you lucky enough to have a ticket are in for a hell of a good time.
Gig Review by Gareth Williams
By Your Command
Spirits Will Collide
Devin Townsend – Australian Tour
with Caligula’s Horse
Fri 10 Nov
Sat 11 Nov
Sun 12 Nov