DEVIN TOWNSEND at Sentrum Scene (Oslo, Norway)
Special Guests: HAKEN
Sunday, November 24, 2019
by Jorge Patacas
Creative genius Devin Townsend returned to Oslo after eight months where he performed acoustically as part of the “An Evening with Devin Townsend” tour. This time the focus was his latest solo album called “Empath” which was released earlier this year via InsideOut Music label.
The evening started with the opening act Haken, hailing from London, England. This six-piece outfit has been around since 2007 and have released five full-length albums so far with a great reception from fans and media. And that night wasn’t an exception as they played in front of an enthusiastic crowd who showed up early to see their concert too. Their style is clearly rooted in the Progressive Metal, but they play it in a modern way which means they have influences from the likes of Meshuggah specially on the riffs, and they even throw some jazz influences on the mix which are always praised by the fans. Highlights of the show were “Cockroach King” which they call their “hit” and the final song “1985” which features synthetizers that really take us on a journey to the 80’s.
After some minutes, it was turn for Devin Townsend and his current solo band that consists of ten members from which the first to come out on stage was mexican Diego Tejeida who is actually keyboardist for Haken, so he manages to play two complex sets every night. He appeared on stage with a hawaiian shirt and began mixing piña coladas to serve to the other musicians who were also dressed as if they were on vacations. That’s what Devin actually said when he took the mic for the first time in the evening, they would take us on vacation for two hours. They started the show with “Borderlands” and “Evermore”, two songs from his latest release while a caribbean beach was displayed on the big screen behind the stage.
As the setlist went on, we were transported to snowy landscapes, the night, the day, and even the Northern Lights. The visual part on his show is as important as the music, and the images adapt in a perfect way to each climate on the songs, they even change in every change of tempo in perfect timing, no failures. Really impressive.
The sound was tight and the band was solid on stage as if they had been playing together for years. The experienced Mike Keneally who also plays with Joe Satriani and has been part of Frank Zappa and Steve Vai bands in the past, shares duties this time with Markus Reuter and Devin, while the female vocalist Ché Aimee Dorval has a fundamental role in many of the songs.
The vacations on the beach were eventually over, they changed their outfits and we got immersed into some of the songs from The Devin Townsend Project including the catchy single “Lucky Animals” where the vocalist invited the audience to throw their hands in the air during the chorus. Then there was time for more songs from “Empath” such as “Castaway”, “Genesis” and the acoustic “Spirits Will Collide”. The evening had also a lot of jokes by Devin between the songs and by the end he asked the audience to scream and ask for more songs while they leave the stage pretending they’re not going to come back for the encore. So, when the band left the stage, the crowd was louder than usual and they came back taking us by surprise once again. Why? Because now we were transported to the end of the 70’s to the disco era. They played The Trammps’ “Disco Inferno” which was featured on the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack! This is just another sample of how versatile Devin Townsend can be. “The Black Page #1” by Frank Zappa was also covered and they concluded the show with “Kingdom” before a clearly satisfied audience.
Seeing Townsend live is not the typical live experience where you just see the band playing. Here you don’t get only great music in many different forms, but also amazing visuals, interaction and a lot of bizarre humor to make sure you have two hours of entertainment.