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Devin Townsend Project

With support from Lerous and Tesseract, Rock City Nottingham 18th March 2017. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say prog was making a comeback. Truth is, it never really left us, as any good fan would tell you. I’m a fair weather prog fan, if I’m honest. I don’t always like to listen to the music, unless it suits me. That said, Devin Townsend isn’t strictly prog and I’m sure if I asked him, he’d punch me in the face and say he’s metal! Although his music does have some progressive elements in it, alongside some amazing riffs which do take you on a journey, you just have to dive into his back catalogue to see what I’m referring to.

Devin Townsend

Prog featured heavily tonight mind – especially with the first band up, Leprous who originate from Oslo, Norway. Initially, I loved their sound, very dark and atmospheric, a bit like the lighting for these guys. I’m aware many in the audience tonight love this band and everything they’ve ever produced, which was my initial reaction but as the set went on, it started to sound a bit samey, with every track sounding like the last.

That said, the band have great energy and passion for their music. Einar Solberg, the bands lead vocalist and synth keyboard player has a very powerful and unique voice. In all fairness, I did enjoy their music, but as I’m not a massive prog fan, I’ve probably disregarded them for being so. Since and as I sit here and write this review, I’m currently listening to the bands top 5 tracks on Spotify and the top track happens to be ‘The Price’ which is the opening track off their latest studio album and its a great piece of music. A further 3 tracks, which feature in the top 5 also appear on their latest studio albumThe Congregation’ which tells me I should check this album out first and work my way back. If you want an example of how dark and atmospheric these guys are, check out the track ‘Rewind‘, my goodness, this track could almost be metal! Attack of the bass, which features heavily here! I must also admit, Leprous are a very unique band, with a very unique sound and I admire their attempt to stand out from the crowd, which I feel they’ve managed to do remarkably well. Maybe I need to immerse myself within their world a little more, to better understand them and what they do, after all, this was only my first time hearing them play. After tonight’s performance, I’m willing to do this, so job done, I guess, they’ve impressed me enough to want to find out more.

Einar Solberg - Leprous

The band have released three full length studio albums since 2012, the last of which ‘The Congregation’ being released in 2015. In 2016, they released a live album, from their performance at the prestigious Rockefella Music Hall.

Seeing as they are heavy weights, in the world of prog music, I notice they’ve been selected to perform at the massive prog related festival ‘Be Prog, My Friend’ which takes place between 30th June to the 1st July, in Barcelona, Spain, along side the likes of tonight’s headliner Devin Townsend Project as well as a few other personal favorites of mine, Marillion and Jethro Tull! Maybe I like prog more than I realised or care to admit, guilty pleasure then? My mood has to fit the music, I guess, I am somewhat of a chameleon when it comes to music, I can adapt and find the good in any genre….well, almost any genre, there are exceptions.

Although I was looking forward to seeing Devin perform again, as it’s never a dull moment with him, I was secretly more excited about seeing TesseracT play – for the first time I might add. Here’s a band, who manage to produce clean vocals, along side some pretty heavy riffs and loud, jebus, I got pre-warned about how loud these guys are, but I wasn’t quite expecting that!

Amos Williams - TesseracT

Here’s a quirky fact, the most played location, for this band is in Santiago, Chile? The UK come in second, naturally! TesseracT originally formed back in 2003, as a side project for guitarist ‘Acle Kahney‘, yet it took the band until 2010 to release their debut EPConcealing the Fate’ with their first full length debut album ‘One’ following soon after in 2011. Seven studio albums later, we have the powerhouse we see before us today!

In geometry, the tesseract is the four-dimensional analog of the cube; the tesseract is to the cube as the cube is to the square. Knowing this, helps me to understand what the band where thinking when they chose the band’s name, as it fits their music perfectly. When you listen to TesseracT, you get a real sense of how technical they are when writing their music, yet it works well!

Daniel Tompkins - TesseracT

One thing that did strike me about tonight’s performance compared with the bands earlier recordings, is how different Daniel’s voice is, it’s now much more refined. Yes, I’m aware the band have had several vocalists, over the years. Their original vocalist was in fact French, a Abisola Obassanya (Thanks Wikipedia).

Tonight’s show was superb, I’d almost go as far as to say, sheer perfection, all except for Daniel flicking his sweaty hair all over my camera lenses, however I unintentionally got him back though! I accidentally stood on his mic cable, all be it briefly. As soon as I felt a sharp tug from under foot, I jumped off it. Sorry. haha.

I first and last saw Devin Townsend Project perform back in 2014, at Sonisphere festival (man I miss that festival, Knebworth is such a great location). On that particular day, Gojira opened the main stage, which also featured the likes of Mastodon, Airbourne and Metallica!

I distinctively remember thinking, this guy is a born performer who clearly doesn’t take himself too seriously. He also compared that day, introducing the other acts that featured, so I got to know that he also has a great sense of humour. Many people I’ve spoken to, still fondly recall Devin’s time in the band ‘Strapping Young Lad’ truth is, Devin’s solo career has surpassed the success he had with his first band but it did help to plant the seed for his later material, which combines a concoction of genres from hard rock, progressive, metal, in fact, his sound reaches ‘Far Beyond Metal…..love? See what I did there!

Devin Townsend Project

Out of the eleven or so solo albums, Devin has produced since going it alone, his latest offering, ‘Transcendence‘, which was released last year has been his most successful, from what I can see having followed it’s progress. Seriously, what’s happening over there in Canada – those guys are producing some fantastic music lately and with such a variety and diverse music scene, which we here, in the UK appear to be loving! In fact, I’m seeing another bunch of Canadian’s this week, who go by the name of Sumo Cyco, a female fronted version of Skindred, no less. See, diverse!

One funny moment tonight, someone in the crowd held up a great poster with Devin’s face on it. I couldn’t see what was actually written but one side said one thing, the other side, had an angrier Devin face, saying something else, which the artist confessed he loved, as it appealed to his narcissistic nature!

It’s safe to say, Devin’s fans are fanatical, with some travelling around the country with him, while he tours! Although tonight was a collective mix of his music, his previous show at a packed out Hammersmith Apollo, saw him performing ‘Ocean Machine: Biomech‘ in it’s entirety for the first time ever! Any true fan had to be there! Sadly, I wasn’t, but I did see him perform ‘Kingdom‘ live, here in Nottingham, which is a track I love and made up for me missing out last night!

Brian 'Beav' Waddell - DTP

Truth is, no one really missed out, especially here in Nottingham, which saw the crowd filled to the rafters – literally, the balcony was open! haha Fantastic show. Although the lighting fit the mood, for the first two bands, perfectly, dark and moody, Devin’s set was lit like a Christmas tree. Thank you for giving us a great spectacle and a great show! Until next time, my friend!

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)

Be Prog! My Friend

 ANNOUNCES FINAL BANDS

THE FESTIVAL WHICH HIGHLIGHTS THE WORLD’S BEST PROGRESSIVE BANDS COMPLETES THIS YEAR’S LINE-UP WITH THE DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT, LEPROUS & JARDÍN DE LA CROIX.

Since its inception in 2014 the Barcelona based festival Be Prog! My Friend has played host to the likes of Opeth, Steven Wilson, Anathema, Devin Townsend, TesseracT, The Pineapple Thief, Magma, Agent Fresco, Camel, Meshuggah, Katatonia, Riverside, Ihsahn and Alcest.

Be Prog! My Friend

Taking place in the beautiful open air surroundings of Poble Espanyol – a huge stone built architectural museum – the site is one of the most important and striking landmarks of tourism in Barcelona. Whilst by day the Catalonian hotspot may play host to some of Barcelona’s most interesting historical articles, by the end of June to the start of July it will instead play host to some of the world’s finest progressive bands. Last year saw the festival co-headlined by Steven Wilson and fellow progressive heavy weights Opeth.

So far for 2017 Be Prog! My Friend have announced legendary headliners Jethro Tull and Marillion alongside Norwegian music collective Ulver, Anathema, Animals as Leaders, Mike Portnoy’s Shattered Fortress and Caligula’s Horse.

Now Be Prog! My Friend’s line-up for this year is complete with the addition of the Devin Townsend Project, Leprous and Spain’s Jardín de la Croix.

Devin Townsend returns to Be Prog! My Friend for an exclusive performance of his 1997 album ‘Ocean Machine: Biomech’ in full to celebrate its 20th anniversary. Devin himself describes ‘Ocean Machine’ as ‘a labor of love that was born more out of adversity than almost anything else. I’m very proud of this album, and has a very obvious ‘blue’ feeling to me’Joining Devin will be one of the best progressive metal acts in the world, Leprous. The festival organisers comment: ‘we were stunned by their technical genius, the absorbing personality of frontman Einar and their almighty live shows’. At Be Prog! My Friend their performance will be a ‘By Request’ show, where all fans of Leprous can vote. The songs with the most votes will be played at the festival.

The final band that completes the line-up for Be Prog! My Friend 2017 is Jardín de la Croix described by the festival as ‘one of the most beloved bands in the Spanish rock scene at the moment. With their excellent live shows they are definitely one of the best instrumental rock bands in Spain at the moment. We proudly welcome them to the festival and hope you enjoy Jardín de la Croix with us!’
The complete line-up for Be Prog! My Friend 2017:

JETHRO TULL / MARILLION / MIKE PORTNOY’S SHATTERED FORTRESS / ANATHEMA / THE DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT / ULVER / ANIMALS AS LEADERS / LEPROUS / CALIGULA’S HORSE / JARDÍN DE LA CROIX.

Tickets are on sale now at the fixed price of 130 Euros:
Please visit ticktackticket to secure your tickets.

Press for Be Prog! My Friend festival 2016:
‘And so Prog finds itself in love with Barcelona, the delightful weather and everything that Be Prog! My Friend has to offer’ – Prog Magazine ‘The leading festival for progressive music in Spain, showcased avant-garde music in a magnificent location’ – The Independent ‘Set in the hazy sunlit square of Barcelona’s historic and quite stunning Poble Espanyol, it certainly beats the sodden mud of the British festival season’ – Total Guitar Magazine ‘If nothing else, it proves that prog is alive and kicking. Especially in Catalonia’ – Classic Rock Magazine.

For more information please visit Be Prog!My Friend online.

Be Prog! My Friend takes place in the heart of Barcelona and with an airport only 12km away, regular, cheap flights make it an easy festival to get and from the UK. Bands will start playing from mid/late afternoon each day which will also mean visitors have plenty of time to explore the stunning city of Barcelona while they are there: barcelonaturisme.

Devin Townsend Project

Eventim Hammersmith Apollo London.

Devin Townsend Project have announced that their show at London’s legendary Eventim Hammersmith Apollo on the 17th March will feature the first full live airing of the album ‘Ocean Machine’, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, as a UK exclusive.

Watch Devin reveal the news in this sort clip.

Devin comments: “UK exclusive guys, are you ready for this? 17th March 2017, ‘Ocean Machine’ in its entirety in London. You’re coming to that aren’t you? Devin recently visited the iconic London venue to give fans a tour of what they might expect.

The full Devin Townsend Project European tour dates can be found below. Main support comes from Between The Buried & Me (excl. UK & Belgium) & Tesseract (UK only) plus openers Leprous (all dates):

UK Tour 2017

12.03 – Colston Hall, Bristol, UK

13.03 – Academy, Manchester, UK

14.03 – Barrowlands, Glasgow, UK

16.03 – Institute, Birmingham, UK

17.03 – Eventim Apollo, London, UK

18.03 – Rock City, Nottingham, UK

Tickets are on sale now, please visit Mytickets online.

Also V.I.P packages available at musicglue.

Transcendence’ received fantastic reactions upon release, even reaching number 26 in the UK album charts. Find a selection of those reactions below:

“a wholly absorbing, modern-day masterpiece” – Metal Hammer.

“the breadth and quality of the material is simply astonishing.” – Record Collector.

“life-affirmingly euphoric” – Total Guitar.

“this man can do no wrong” – Kerrang!

“a positively charged majestic album” – The Independent.

Now watch the epic video for the track ‘Stormbending’ by Devin Townsend Project.

Transcendence’, the follow-up to 2014’s ‘Z2’ double-album (half of which was made up of the DTP full-length ‘Sky Blue’), sees the award-winning Townsend exploring a relatively new way of working, collaborating with the entire DTP band during the writing stages of the record. “The result of this process is a record that I truly think the intention of is special” he says of the album. “I ‘found’ gas to put into the tank and am glad I did. I think the intention, the theme, and the participation of everyone involved allows this album to act like a fulcrum between the past few years and what I intend to do next with the symphony. I am very proud of it and everyone involved.”

Devin Townsend Project.

The artwork was once again created by Anthony Clarkson, who Devin has been working with for several years now. Townsend comments of the cover (above): “He presented me the main image of the girl as a painted version, and I was intrigued and asked him to redo it with a girl he knew with photos. I liked the idea that it seemed like a mash up of religious and spiritual imagery, in a sense, representing the idea (to me) that these types of connections to the infinite are often more like identities we can cling to rather than what lies behind. In a sense, the character on the front almost seems like the ideologies she’s representing are more ‘brand names’ than anything else.”

Pick up a copy of the album on 2CD digipak, standard CD, 2LP + CD & digital download, visit DEVIN TOWNSEND.