DEVIN TOWNSEND W/ Meshuggah @ O2 Brixton Academy

Devin Townsend

Meshuggah and Periphery

@ O2 Brixton Academy

3rd May, 2013

Review by Caitlin Smith

Photography by Michelle Murphy

The grand old cinema in Brixton opened its doors once again that night for a show befitting the epic backdrop of the arena. Two metal titans, Devin Townsend and Meshuggah were gearing up for a double headline slot that night. With queues wrapped right round the building, the atmosphere was already buzzing despite the early door time of 6pm. Two giant anti-surfing signs set in red at the front of the stage was a reminder that for this evening, metal had to be on its best behavior.

Devin Townsend
Devin Townsend


As the light drops and the music rises, an eerie silence drops over the crowd as progressive metal band, Periphery [3/5] march onto the stage.

Periphery
Periphery

Having waited 30 minutes after the opening of doors, the crowd is impatient and although they were the first band on that night, they are ready to give them a warm welcome.

Periphery
Periphery

Despite many recent line-up changes over the last few years, the band are still providing out enjoyable sets. Singer vocalist Spencer Sotelo has an impressive voice, pulling out soaring vocals lines during the choruses.

Periphery
Periphery

Obviously overwhelmed by the reception, Sotelo abandoned the stage for the photopit, providing an up close and personal performance for the people at the front.

Periphery
Periphery

With the gig only a day after the passing of Slayer guitarist, Jeff Hanneman, Periphery made a touching tribute to the band, dedicating their songs to the fallen guitarist.

Periphery
Periphery

The newer songs in their set seem much more chaotic compared to the relatively tame older pieces, which was perhaps more appropriate to precede the bands following them.

Periphery
Periphery

Although distinctly more mainstream than the rest of the bands on the set list, Periphery definitely made their mark that night, rounding off their set on a great rendition of Icarus lives.

Periphery
Periphery

As the academy packs out the sound of insects swarming surrounds the crowd. Progressive metal legends Meshuggah [4.5/5] takes to the stage, illuminated by a small backlight.

Meshuggah
Meshuggah
Meshuggah
Meshuggah

 

The miniature drum kit from Periphery has been replaced by a gold beast, which would have looked more at home round the neck of a would-be pimp than onstage.

Meshuggah
Meshuggah
Meshuggah
Meshuggah

The music was spot on, treating us with their signature tight rhythms and awkward time signatures but the guys didn’t seem on form tonight. Singer, Jens Kidman, remained rooted to the center of the stage throughout the set. Luckily, the lighting at the academy is always impressive, and combined with a talented light technician, the show was still visually impressive.

Meshuggah
Meshuggah

Meshuggah

Every colour captured the mood of the song with perfect accuracy and with most of the show lit from behind; it left the band as menacing shadows, powerful and dark.

The set was a crowd pleaser, sticking mostly to their more popular tracks, interjected with songs from their newer albums.

Meshuggah
Meshuggah
Meshuggah
Meshuggah

Their sound was as impressive as always, a sheer wall of polyrhythms delivered with deadly precision, all delivered under the crushing power of the guitars. Hurtling their way through a mind-numbing 90-minute set, the songs did seem to run into each other after a while particularly as they decided to play their best knowing songs in the first half of the set.

Meshuggah
Meshuggah

Despite this, the crowd was responding well to the music, and despite not knowing whether they were hitting beat 1, 5 or 23, most managed to find their own beat to nod along to.

Meshuggah
Meshuggah

Setlist:
Swarm
Combustion
Rational Gaze
obZen
Lethargica
Do Not Look Down
The Hurt that Finds You First
I Am Colossus
Bleed
Demiurge
New Millennium Cyanide Christ
Dancers to a Discordant System

Encore:
Mind’s Mirrors
In Death – Is Life
In Death – Is Death
The Last Vigil

The Devin Townsend Project [4/5] is one of those bands everyone needs to see live.

Devin Townsend
Devin Townsend
Devin Townsend
Devin Townsend

Devin provides much more than a standard music experience, treating us to an assortment of videos before and during the set.

Devin Townsend
Devin Townsend

A selection of famous scenes were pictured with Devin’s signature thumb face photoshopped on, before it dissolving into a barrage of Ziltoid based propaganda and threats based around fine coffee.

Devin Townsend
Devin Townsend
Devin Townsend
Devin Townsend

A call for Ziltoid presidential campaign 2012 showed this outer space puppet’s focus on world domination is slipping, proving the Earth safe for another year, and reassuring many that their freedom, for now, remains guaranteed.

Devin Townsend
Devin Townsend
Devin Townsend
Devin Townsend

Opening with Angel, a heavenly backdrop of falling angels appears to accompany the song and pure white lighting help set the atmosphere. Combined with the backing choir, which created a wall of angelic harmony, the song seemed more like witnessing a spiritual awakening than being at a concert.

Devin Townsend
Devin Townsend
Devin Townsend
Devin Townsend

The first strike of the guitars however quickly grounded everyone. Knocking the pit out of my stomach, they were bass heavy high impact devices providing perfect counterpoint to the choir.

Devin Townsend
Devin Townsend
Devin Townsend
Devin Townsend

The setlist was heavily Epicloud influenced that night, and the sound was set perfectly to compliment it, however older favorites like Bad Devil had their signature groove lost under the crushing bass notes.

Devin Townsend
Devin Townsend
Devin Townsend
Devin Townsend

 

Devin never seems to age, pulling out his usual high-energy performance racing from one side of the stage to the other throughout the entire set.

Devin Townsend
Devin Townsend

Always being known to pull a crowd, the Academy was surprisingly empty during the set, perhaps due to the high ticket price or perhaps because it has only been half a year since his retinal circus at the roundhouse.

Devin Townsend
Devin Townsend
Devin Townsend
Devin Townsend

The encore was perhaps the biggest disappointment that night. Having seen Devin twice before, he is usually the master of leaving the crowd on a high however, his choice to finish on Divine followed by Grace was a little anticlimactic.

Devin Townsend
Devin Townsend

The choice to fill the stage with the choir at this point however did make up for the song choice. Their voices provided a wall of sound that filled even the dustiest corners of the venue.

Devin Townsend
Devin Townsend
Devin Townsend
Devin Townsend

Perhaps it has been a distinctly tame night for metal, but the sheer power from the bands that night blew me away.
Disorientated and dazed by the night’s assault of complex polyrhythms, we are left to shuffle slowly back along the streets of Brixton.

Devin Townsend
Devin Townsend
Devin Townsend
Devin Townsend

Setlist:
Angel
More!
Juular
Supercrush!
Kingdom
ZTO
(Devin Townsend song)
By Your Command
(Devin Townsend song)
Deadhead
(The Devin Townsend Band cover)
Where We Belong
War
(Devin Townsend song)
Planet of the Apes
Bad Devil
(Devin Townsend song)
Liberation

Encore:
Divine
Grace

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