Having headlined the Roundhouse in October, Devin Townsend returns to London in this special one-off show with Meshuggah. It’s the Swedish djent masters’ first UK show since Hevy Festival last summer and tonight’s all set up to be a progressive metal showdown between two of the finest around at the moment. Let’s do this.
Pre-gig meal: Nando’s. Half chicken (medium) with corn, rice and halloumi.
6 things we learnt during Brixton’s prog metal masterclass…
1) The prospect of two 90-minute sets isn’t overwhelming. With the two bands sharing headline status, it follows that they both get equal set lengths. If three hours of complicated metal is the stuff of nightmares to those not so au fait with the genre, it’s lucky that everyone here is ready to soak up every mind-bending moment.
2) We made a joke that Meshuggah fans can’t get girlfriends, but it was just a joke. While metal gigs on the whole do have a reputation of being sausage-fests, that is just not the case here. There are women dancing awkwardly all over the place.
Some Meshuggah fans have paid women to come with them to this show and act like their girlfriends.
— Thrash Hits (@ThrashHits) May 3, 2013
3) However, tonight is still a muso’s dream. Everyone’s seen the video of the dude dancing to Meshuggah. The pit isn’t exactly going wild, though. It’s just not that easy to mosh in 5/8 and everyone here has spent a few seconds figuring out the exact time signature so they can make an informed decision that it’s just too difficult a time signature to try and mosh. That’s just how it is. Seriously, take a few moments just to listen to the drumming.
4) Turning it to 11 isn’t always the best way. While Meshuggah sound immense at exactly the perfect level, Devin Townsend is just too loud. When one of the cream of the British metal producers is saying so, it’s time to find the sound levels at a lower volume.
5) Talking onstage is still over-rated. For Meshuggah, anyway. While Devin Townsend trades on his unique personality and humour, Jens Kidman does pause to address the crowd but he doesn’t need to do that – the music speaks for itself in crushing riffs and stupendous rhythms. Having an air of mystique is a difficult reputation to acquire.
6) There is room for humour in heavy metal. For Devin Townsend, anyway. While Jens telling a joke would just be weird, when TDTP roll onstage in matching ice hockey shirts and then bring out a huge choir for ‘Grace’, they’re excellent points in the set that have as much visual effect as they do ridiculous charm. The humour that Townsend uses is hugely important in diffusing the intensity of his music. It’s a huge part of why it works.