A Updated
Devin Townsend (2)
Yann Ligner - Klone
Mike Keneally - Devin Townsend
Michael Moreau - Klone
Jonas Hansen - Fixation
James Leach - Devin Townsend
Devin Townsend
Darby Todd - Devin Townsend

After more than three years, Canadian Prog genius Devin Townsend returns to Rock City


Rock City, Nottingham, 1st April 2023

After more than three years, Canadian Prog genius Devin Townsend returns to Rock City, in support of his latest release ‘Lightwork’, and people who wanted a good view of proceedings had been waiting outside the venue since mid-day. Fortunately, it wasn’t that cold and it wasn’t raining at that point, but it’s still some dedication.

The whole thing had an early kick-off at 6.40, as there were two support bands, the first being Fixation, a four piece Prog/Metal band from Norway. They only had about thirty-five minutes, but they used their time well with their, what I would term “politically tinged” songs. Initially they sounded like they were going to be really heavy, but turned out to be quite eclectic, mixing different styles, and consequently quite listenable, the only problem being that the music tended to overpower the vocals during their five songs, making the words a little difficult to make out. Maybe it was where we were positioned, but there was also a little too much echo on the mix, which, in addition tended to muddle the lead guitar breaks. Vocalist Jonas Hansen was very active throughout the set, even coming down into the pit for the last song to get closer to the crowd. And the crowd seemed very happy with what they heard, so I would assume the band were happy with the result. They are appearing at Download this year on the Thursday if you want to check them out.
Set List:- Neurosis, Stay Awake, Ignore The Disarray, Violent Tendencies, Bloodline, What We Have Done.

Second band was Klone, who I was aware of, having reviewed two of their albums in the past. Firmly in the Progressive Metal zone, the five-piece from France gave us eight songs in their forty-five-ish minute slot, and again, the vocals had a lot of echo, making them hard to hear properly. Having said that, Yann Ligner, who is the vocalist, does have a recognisable sound, which identifies the band; a bit like if you were to hear Jon Anderson away from Yes, it would still sound like Yes, because you recognise the voice. Having said that, his style was somewhat different when they did a song called ‘Army Of Me’, while still sounding strangely familiar, and I was surprised to later learn that it was actually a cover of a Bjork song. The two guitarists were also very precise on this. There was a little more melody incorporated in their material, particularly in the last song ‘Yonder’, which I considered to be the strongest one from the albums I had heard. Again, the crowd, which had grown, were very appreciative of what they experienced.
Set List:- Elusive, Rocket Smoke, Bystander, Keystone, Night And Day, Immersion, Army Of Me, Yonder.

And so, Devin Townsend entered the stage at 8.30pm. He didn’t start playing straight away, but asked what day it was, and then told us that Saturday was the most fun day of the lot. Noticeably, he was flanked by the bassist and drummer from his Royal Albert Hall shows last year, namely James Leach and Darby Todd, while on his left was someone who was here last time on the Empath tour, Mike Keneally on guitar and keyboards. Then we were off, with new song ‘Lightworker’, sung by all of Rock City as well as Mr T, and the vocals were now considerably clearer.
He then went to a fan favourite with ‘Kingdom’, before highlighting his fascination at drinking water out of a can, and explaining how home and tour time was very different, when at home he watches Antiques Roadshow and he’s in bed by 9pm. He introduced us to the “thing that goes woo” (a theramin), which was guarded by an octopus, and used extensively throughout another new song ‘Dimensions’. ‘Why?’, which he had not played at every show, and was not on the setlist, had him explaining that his throat wasn’t at its best, he expected to hit around sixty percent of the high notes and as such he would appreciate any help that the audience could give him, which had the whole room singing again, and he did need to spray his throat before ‘The Fluke’. Screaming ain’t easy folks! ‘Deadhead’ followed this with everybody clapping along at the start, then stating that he loved music, coming back here and seeing people, he thanked everybody for being here before starting ‘Deep Peace’.

Announcing it as a song from one of his forty records from the past couple of years, and “It’s a pain in the ass to play, so we expect to lose half the audience in the next five minutes”, we had ‘Heartbreaker’, the last of the new songs in the main set. ‘Spirits Will Collide’ was played here last time, only then it was sung by him and four females, and was a highlight of the night. I have to say, despite the smaller numbers it was a highlight again, although I do believe he had the female vocals on backing tape. Two songs from the ‘Infinity’ album from 1998 finished the main set, and he explained that ‘Truth’ was about connecting with other people, which was the reason he did what he did. He thanked everybody again for being there and noted that thankfully ‘Truth’ had no vocals. There was no gap between this and ‘Bad Devil’, after which he stated that they would only be off-stage for around two and a half minutes before “awkwardly” leaving the stage and coming back with another new song, ‘Call Of The Void’, and he announced that a couple at the front had got engaged today, just prior to ending with a Strapping Young Lad song, ‘Love’.

So that was it for this tour. During the concert, Dev had thanked all that attended for supporting his music and “staying with him”, and he expressed his appreciation again before leaving the stage. One thing that slightly concerned me though was, having thanked people sincerely for staying with him, supporting him and “All the years”, as well as everybody concerned with the show, he said “We hope to see you some other time OK” which sounded a little like a goodbye, and made me wonder if he will be taking time off from touring, or possibly just stopping. He stated that he thought Rock City was a cool place and I would think all there tonight will be wondering how long it will be before he returns, and what he will do if or when he does.

Set List:- Lightworker, Kingdom, Dimensions, Why? The Fluke, Deadhead, Deep Peace, Heartbreaker, Spirits Will Collide, Truth, Bad Devil. Encore:- Call Of The Void, Love

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