And so we come to the end – An Evening With The Devin Townsend Project is four nights to mark the end of a four year, four album journey for the Canadian musician: one that’s taken us from Meshuggah to Enya, via Elvis – from the histrionics of choir-backed space metal to mellow blacklit acoustics. If Devin Townsend was going to play all four of the albums released under The Devin Townsend Project banner on subsequent nights, we had little choice but to send Ruth Booth along to witness the whole shebang. It all kicked off with 2009’s Ki.
Six things we found out when we saw Devin Townsend perform Ki in full:
1) And it’s the first on the list, the album that embraces the whole lot, that’s the most difficult to perform live. ‘Ki’ may not demand giant spaceships or hordes of orchestral accompaniment, but it is the one with that holds in suspense for ten songs before the big emotional payoff: quite an ask from a 2000-strong crowd. And with cameras recording for an upcoming DVD, well, no pressure, eh?
2) In the end, circumstance lends a hand. With most of the weekend’s guest musicians already in London, Townsend uses the opportunity for some unique takes on the Ki‘s tracks, set against the backdrops provided by long-time collaborator and musician Mike St-Jean.
3) With frequent changeovers, and jams coming together in an extended ‘Ain’t Never Gonna Win’, Ki night feels like a veteran rocker’s show. The greats of the project coming together for the definitive versions of the classics.
Devin Townsend performs 'Ki' @ London ULU - 10 November 2011 c/o Ruth Booth
4) The genius touches are in the extremes, as when former emerald Web flautist Kat Epple adds subtle tones to the mellow ‘Terminal’ and ‘Winter’. However, the highlight of the evening comes at the other end of the scale. When we finally hit the climax of the title track, and the prime of Townsend’s operatic vocals lift above the stunning drumming of Soilwork’s Dirk Verbeuren, it’s the moment that grabs the most rapturous applause of the night.
5) Townsend is obviously keen to do this right, redoing ‘Coast’ in the encore for the benefit of digital posterity. More than anything, though, he just seems thrilled. When he encourages some crowd participation for ‘Quiet Riot’, Townsend drifts away from the mic a little to hear the soft singing from the audience.
6) “Man, you’re killing me,” he says, grinning. With the encore completed by classic ‘Deep Peace’ and Ki bonus track ‘Synchronicity Freaks’, as an introduction to the four night project, you couldn’t have asked for better.
Devin Townsend performs Ki @ London ULU setlist:
Ain’t Never Gonna Win
Coast (2nd rendition)