The Devin Townsend Band – Live In Vancouver: February 11, 2006

The Devin Townsend Band
Saturday, February 11, 2006
The Red Room
Vancouver, BC  Canada

***Live Review & All Photos By Lord of The Wasteland

SYNCHESTRA, the new CD from The Devin Townsend Band, is the first stunning release of 2006 and to get the spider webs out of the machine, the band treated local Vancouver fans to a one-off headlining gig before heading out on tour with Opeth and Dark Tranquillity.  Since the frenetic Strapping Young Lad is Townsend’s better-known band, the singer’s foray into softer, prog-tinged waters may take many fans by surprise but SYNCHESTRA is such a well-crafted, eclectic vision that even the staunchest metalhead will be powerless to the music found inside. From acoustic ballads and hook-filled melodies to polka-tinged romps and straight-ahead rockers, SYNCHESTRA embodies all the genius found between Townsend’s ears resulting in what is arguably his best solo effort to date (read my SYNCHESTRA review here).



Having seen Strapping Young Lad countless times over the years, it was refreshing to finally get to witness the “other side” of Townsend’s musical mind.  His solo work has long been a favourite of mine, from 1997’s OCEAN MACHINE through 2003’s first platter as this band, ACCELERATED EVOLUTION.  With the exception of 2000’s PHYSICIST release, Townsend covered his entire solo career in a fourteen song, 90-minute set to a packed house on a Saturday night.  Besides the many devotees on hand to hear the new material live, Townsend’s SYL bandmates Jed Simon, Byron Stroud and Gene Hoglan, as well as Zimmer’s Hole’s Chris Valagio, were also present.  I missed the opening band, Evenlight, which features DTB guitarist Brian Waddell but from what I heard, they put on a good set.  Unfortunately, Waddell was barely vertical due to a bad flu and only played the first two songs of the DTB setlist before disappearing for good.  Five tracks from SYNCHESTRA were played including an unforgettable encore of “Vampolka” and “Vampira.”  “Triumph,” which features a solo by Steve Vai, was played but despite being an impressive six-stringer himself (as displayed on the extended soloing during “Away” and “Truth”), Townsend didn’t make an attempt at Vai’s fretwork.  One SYNCHESTRA guest who did materialize for this show was Deborah Tyzio, whose harmony vocals on “Pixillate” were an excellent juxtaposition alongside Townsend’s roar.  As for the older material, some tracks were played live for the first time ever.  The incredibly catchy “Life” was met with a huge response and most of the fans in the house were singing along to the chorus.  A sizeable moshpit materialized for a rollicking version of “Bad Devil” as well as for the grandiose “Earth Day.”  On the flipside, “Storm” and “Deadhead” were serene pieces of mental candy that cast a peaceful aura over the crowd. 

Ever the comedian, Townsend’s mugging and self-deprecating remarks (on sporting granny glasses, cargo pants and a sweater, “Do you like my Sears outfit?”) were a highlight of the show, as well as the band knocking out what sounded like a bit of KISS’ “Detroit Rock City” at the end of “Bad Devil.”  Ryan Van Poederooyen is one of the hardest-hitting live drummers I have ever seen and he backs that up with real talent.  Going back and forth between the jazzy influences of “Bad Devil” to the complexities of “Deep Peace” to a four-on-the-floor rock song like “Vampira” is not a task many drummers can pull off live, but he does it flawlessly.  The keyboards of Dave Young are a real asset to the DTB sound and tucked behind his stack of Korgs and Mac laptop, Young nailed the quirky “Vampolka” as seamlessly as the upbeat “Life.”  Townsend has assembled a tight band and considering their relatively young age, their talent is well beyond their years.  Hopefully, the Opeth/Dark Tranquillity tour will open up a new can of worms for The Devin Townsend Band because this is by no means a “novelty act” or one that should be relegated to the sidelines behind Strapping Young Lad.  SYNCHESTRA should top many year-end lists and as a long-time fan, seeing Townsend’s alter ego go through nearly ten years of material was a real treat.  Catch DTB at any of the following upcoming shows:

Feb 11th – The Red Room
Vancouver, BC (Headlining)
Feb 15 – Lincoln Theatre – Raleigh, NC
Feb 16 – The Norva – Norfolk, VA
Feb 17 – Recher Theatre – Towson, MD
Feb 18 – Mr. Small’s Theatre – Millvale, PA
Feb 19 – Bogarts – Cincinnati, OH
Feb 20 – Headliner’s Music Hall – Louisville, KY
Feb 21 – Newport Music Hall – Columbus,OH
Feb 24 – Webster Theatre – Hartford, CT
Feb 25 – Heartbreak Hotel – Providence, RI
Feb 26 – Imperial – Quebec City, QC
Feb 28 – The Drink Nightclub – London, ON

DTB (opening shows without Opeth)

Feb 23 – Jaxx – Springfield
VA (with Dark Tranquility)

Feb 27 – Lee’s Palace –
Toronto, ON (Headlining Show)

Earth Day
Away/Deep Peace
Bad Devil

***Thanks to Ryan Van Poederooyen & Tracy Turner for press approval.

Devin Townsend official site
Ryan Van Poederooyen official site

Evenlight official site



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