Devin Townsend was a music marvel and comedic goofball in one when he came to Thornbury Theatre

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Devin Townsend was a music marvel and comedic goofball in one when he came to Thornbury Theatre

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Words by Rhys McKenzie
Photos by Nathaniel Smith

This was a special occasion.

For whom it concerns, Devin Townsend remains one of the most eclectic figures in the music industry, ranging mainly from his work from Strapping Young Lad to the Devin Townsend Project and his solo work. Because of this, eager and dedicated fans flocked to see him at the Thornbury Theatre on Saturday September 14.

Performing alone, the show consisted of Townsend doing an acoustic set, intertwined with a Q&A session. Think of it like a #qanda meets MTV Unplugged hosted by Devin Townsend.

Walking on the stage a little late he was quick to turn on his recognisable comic self, comparing himself to Axl Rose and stating his content on being “not that famous”.

Townsend then began his acoustic numbers, which featured audience favourites ‘Funeral’, ‘Hyperdrive’ and the highly demanded ‘Deadhead’. Acoustically, Townsend aced these numbers with ease and precision, smoothly transitioning from his operatic melodic voice to his banshee-like vocal fries.

From his latest album Empath (his self-proclaimed “mid-life crisis album”), Townsend performed ‘Why?’ which received much praise from the audience. In ‘Ih-Ah!’, Townsend floored it vocally and musically. However, after botching a guitar note he made the most of the mistake and continued the song in the wrong key, which received the audience’s hysterical approval.

The Q&A sessions began after nine songs and Townsend had a lot of questions to power through. As the audience consisted of major Townsend fans, the questions either ranged from innocent and educational to ridiculous.

For instance, one peculiar inquisition eventuated, ‘Do your friends sing ‘Knock, Knock Knocking on Devin’s door’ when they’re outside your house?’ to which he answered, “I prefer no one being at my door… or singing that”.

On the middle ground, he was asked about the new Tool album Fear Inoculum to which he reviewed positively and said they’re “smart people”, but ultimately said that opinions on Tool are kind of similar to talking about “American politics or pineapple on pizza”, basically stating it’s always a topic of debate and scrutiny.

But Townsend showed frankness when answering more intelligent questions such as if he’d ever do another Punky Brüster album or any other genre he’d explored in the past. He replied that it “depends on my mood and how I’m feeling at the time” and more directly that he’d rather do a “Funky Brüster”.

Being asked two questions on his vocals, he responded that people “shouldn’t do what he did” having “screamed till I bleed” in the past. Moreover, he supposed that “identifying personal truths” can help to maintain a good voice for the future. Townsend also went into great detail talking about his new album Empath.

Finishing with his song ‘Life’, Townsend crammed in a very informative, intimate and engaging session for his audience, whilst also proving his comedic side is still prevalent.

Highlight: Seeing Townsend tackle tough questions in a rather mature fashion and the not so tough questions with grace.

Lowlight: Wanting to hear more stuff from Empath.