This bill was a head scratcher to say the least. On the one hand you have Katatonia, whom swings more to the artsy and darker / gothy side of metal with some progressive flares, and then you have Devin Townsend. To me the best way to describe this difference is imagine the kid wearing all black with eyeliner and painted black nails, while Devin Townsend is that bald headed freak with salvia and snot oozing out of his various orifices, with dilated pupils and a harsh chemical stench emanating from his body. Got an idea now? So to see these two bands on the same bill made no sense, to me at least, but none-the-less it was a show to remember.
Co-headliners Katatonia, were up first. Their backdrop and minor stage props got the crowd ready for what would be a journey into the abyss of dark and moody music. As they took the stage, there was a definite aura of excitement. The Katatonia fans were there in full force, to the left, and to the right, Katatonia shirts could be seen. Once Jonas Renkse grabbed the mic and began greeting the crowd the look of sheer euphoria was easily seen throughout the people who surrounded me, and once the sounds of Katatonia began billowing out of the speakers … it was on. This was an explosive show, but not in the literal sense of the word. This is a band that incorporates melody, clean singing, progressive writing, and yes that metallic edge that is assimilated perfectly in their sound. As the set progressed, heads could be seen bobbing and feverish claps and thunderous roars were heard from the crowd. Given that Jonas Renkse was a part of the “opening” [I say opening, because if you aren’t last, you’re opening right?] band, he did his best to get the crowd into it, and along with bassist Niklas “Nille” Sandin they did a tremendous job. They were both able to garner ear shattering roars, and clapping fits throughout the set. Musically, the band sounded great. They were as tight as tight could be, and everything sounded near CD quality the entire time. It’s a shame really that they had to “open” as they are a band that deserves headliner spot on any bill, as they truly deliver the goods live. If Katatonia are anywhere near your vicinity, please, do yourself a favour and go see them live, it’s truly a life changing experience. It changed me from being a person who followed the band loosely, to now wanting to go out and consume every piece of music they’ve ever released. No one could’ve asked for a better set. Period.
Then it was time, for I guess you could call, the “headliner”, Devin Townsend. As I mentioned earlier on, this man is a nut-job, to put it lightly. From the way he looks to the way he carries himself, his rhetoric during and after songs, and his on-stage movement is simply, whacked. Like I said, he strikes me as that fucked up kid who always sat in the back of your high school classroom tripping on some sort of hallucinogenic substance, and you know what, that rules. He really is a born performer, and his charisma really is second to literally none. As you watch his set, which is comprised of odd riffing to non-sensical lyrics and then over to some of the heaviest god damn metal you’ve ever seen simply is, mesmerizing. Barring the fact if you’re a fan of his music or not, this man can truly command his stage and the crowd eats him up, and asks for seconds. His set was a big change from Katatonia’s but, it was a good change which brought the heaviness rather than the darker side of metal, which created a rather interesting contrast. Within the first few songs of Townsend’s set, violent moshing and excessive crowd surfing began and didn’t relent for the duration of his set. Townsend also played a fair amount of new material from, Epicould, and fans really took to it. It truly was a sight to see how rabid his fan-base really is, and he really does give back to those diehards by giving his all up on that stage. It’s impossible to put his live performance into words and photos, because unless you were there to hear the between song banter, the jabs at elitist metalheads, tripped out stage expressionism, and a completely whacked out slideshow that played before he took the stage, then you’d know that flash photography and the English language are futile efforts to describe the musical monument, that is Devin Townsend. If you were in the area and missed him, you suck, and if he comes anywhere near your general vicinity and you miss him, you also suck. Devin Townsend is the real deal, and his performance on the 19th of September proves that statement entirely.
*** Disclaimer. Many apologies about the lack of photos for this review. I got my press accreditation on very short notice, as I had originally not planned to attend this concert. Due to this short notice, I had to use my own camera which works great for small gigs, but it just couldn’t handle this occasion. The pictures you do see are not the usual Axis Of Metal quality, as Axis usually uses a professional photographer for all of our photo needs. You can see what the usual Axis Of Metal quality looks like here [The Great Sabitini live review] and here [Vektor live review], and if you do a bit more searching you’ll find more [heck, we even made that easy for you, just use our handy dandy search bar, at the top of your window]. Also my sincerest apologies to Paradise Lost and Stolen Babies as I wasn’t able to properly absorb your respective sets, therefore I’ve abstained from reviewing them. So cut me some slack, will ya? ***