Devin Townsend is a regular visitor in Helsinki, best remembered for his double headlining appearance at Tuska 2010 (the world-exclusive Ziltoid The Omniscient show on the first day, a standard DTP gig on the second). The ongoing club tour, too, included two consecutive evenings in Helsinki, but this time the variations in the setlist were minimal. The only significant difference between the two shows was that the first one was all ages; I attended the second one which had an age limit of 18. Not that it meant much in practice – as usual, moving between the bars and anywhere close to stage during the show was well nigh impossible. My personal nickname for The Circus is Bottleneck Palace – visit it for a show with decent ticket sales figures and you´ll quickly find out why.
The opening act was Fear Factory, whom Devin himself later cited as an enormous influence and very important band to him. Which goes to explain their inclusion in the bill – on sheer musical terms, the pairing was rather far-fetched. On the other hand FF have not been seen on these shores quite as frequently as DTP in recent years, and not a small contingent of fans seemed to have come for them in particular. According to the handsigns in response to singer Burton´s question prior to “Recharger”, the new album (The Industrialist) had been selling rather well among those present, and they were rewarded with a fairly long and aggressive set. As I´m not a fan of industrial metal myself, I would have preferred a more melodic opener in line with the main act, but that´s strictly a matter of taste. (Although I´m not leaving the realm of objectivity by stating that such melodic part as do exist in FF:s repertoire are NOT Burton´s strong suit on stage.)
During the break, we were entertained with a funny video that not only included an aerobics class for poodles but also an appearance by good old Ziltoid, who revealed that his passion these days is no longer coffee but mango fruits. Let´s see where his next quest shall lead him… His alter ego Devin then entered the stage in person, starting with “Supercrush” – my favorite DTP song and an excellent opener. Interestingly, the setlist was almost evenly split between songs from the 1990s (five) and the 2010s (seven), with only two dating from the decade in between. A standout tune among the old ones was the waltz “Colonial Boy” from Infinity (1998), which had never been played live by the full band before this autumn. No idea why it took so long, because it´s a pretty cool song. The recent release Epicloud was represented by four songs, of which the beautiful “Where We Belong” in particular made for some goosebump moments.
According to the little introductory speech, this song was specially dedicated to Helsinki where it had been written last year. On the fun side again was “Lucky Animals”, for which the audience – at Devin´s behest – waved their hands during the chorus like the maestro himself in the “unofficial video” (check it out on youtube). Speaking of videos, these continued on the backdrop screen throughout the set; “Lucky Animals” for example came with dogs, monkeys and kittens. Gotta love it… The last new song of the evening was “Grace”, otherwise a good choice but unfortulately also a reminder of who was missing: Anneke von Giersbergen. The playback of her voice just wasn´t the same as having her on stage with DTP like the last time I saw the band in 2011. Maybe I´m spoiled, but after those special festival performances I have seen, this regular club gig felt just a little bit too, well, ordinary in comparison. But it was nevertheless a solid gig by an extremely likeable artist, and the revisitation of Ziltoid with “Color Your World” in the encore – introduced by The Omniscient Himself in his hand puppet incarnation – was a bonus of “omniversal” proportions. By the way, the merch stand on the way out generated another smile or two – forget t-shirts and stickers, Devin Townsend offers iPod cases and wunderbaums…
Planet of the Apes
Where We Belong
Color Your World