Devin Townsend @ Fowler's Live (Adelaide), 16 Mar 2010

The Devy tour was highly anticipated - and was, in fact, a sell-out, which is rare enough for this town. Happily, despite everybody's high expectations, nobody was disappointed.




Well, not disappointed in the headlining act, anyway - but I'll get to that.


I rocked up at Fowler's fearing that I'd done my usual intend-to-get-there-on-time-and-fail trick, and that perhaps I would miss the support act, Contrive. Not that I particularly wanted to catch Contrive.


It was an interesting dilemma: having heard (negatively) about Contrive from tens of people, I didn't particularly want to see them, and yet I didn't want to be late. In the end, I got to the show with enough time to spare to get inside (yes, there was a line), have a yarn with Avalon at the door, catch up with two or three friends, and score beers, before Contrive hit the stage.


And, well, what can I say about these guys? Not anything good, that's for sure. I had heard bad things about Contrive from every single person who has ever seen them and had cause to talk about them. When it's one person, you go "well, grain of salt". When it's ten or more, you go "wow, there is something about this band that everybody hates".


And I can tell you what it is. It is actually a combination of bad songwriting; a lack of originality; a sound that is very much of a high school band in a battle of the bands, in a venue where the sound desk is manned by the geriatric guy who does the lights and cleans the toilets; and capped off by performance values that are sub-standard.


Plus a set that went for half an hour longer than it should have.


Quite honestly, if I had known that Contrive were quite so bad, I would've missed them on purpose, like our Sydney reviewer did. The worst thing, though, was that this band was supporting Devin fucking Townsend! Now, I am not going to call anything about how this band got this support slot, because it would be mere speculation (and therefore inaccurate and idle gossip), but I could reel off at least five bands (just in Adelaide) of a far higher and more worthy standard for such a place. And of a more suitable genre, too. Why Contrive got it and not anybody else is anybody's guess.


I guess, there was one good thing about Contrive: the bar took a shitload of money from those who preferred to drink in the other room. That and the fact that I had ages to talk to people I hadn't seen in a while, and plenty of time for smokes outside.


Which was great, because the set Heavy Devy put on went for more than two hours. 


Normally, I do the whole anal reviewer thing and try to get the set-list down, but this time I just didn't bother. The entire two hours was taken from Townsend's solo work; and not just the solo work, but the heavier end of it, including a shitload from Ziltoid the Omniscient, and some key works from Physicist. These are easily among my favourite Townsend works, so I was as happy as a pig in the proverbial shit.


I spent the entire show just really, really enjoying myself. The musicianship of everybody on stage was absolutely top-notch, which you expect, but it was truly tight as hell. The sound, too, was - for Fowler's Live, which has a typically muddy bottom-end, and an awful sound generally - outstanding. It didn't matter where in the venue I stood - either near the stage, or at the sound desk, or in the next room - and the sound values were spot-on. Kudos to whoever worked the desk, because that's a mean feat in that venue.


Devin himself is as charismatic a performer as you could hope to see live. The man has a thousand facial expressions, excellent humour, and the ability to make everyone in the venue - from the metallers to the little indie rock kids - totally enjoy themselves.  Vis:


'Dance! None of this,' [insert sad face and floppy horns], 'you're supposed to be enjoying yourself!'


or this:


'Eat shit!'


or any of the other comments about Ziltoid, looking like a bald peanut, how much he enjoys being in Australia (and that he'll be back in 2011), or anything else.


It was a killer show. I've been to hundreds, and this one easily ranks in my top five. If you missed out, as many would've because it sold out, then you'll have to wait until next year to (hopefully) catch Devin on his next round. I sure as fuck won't be one to miss it.