"An individual with endless creativity and talent."
More than 10 minutes late, Devin Townsend strolls unassumingly onto the Thornbury Theatre stage, says "Hi!", and then holds 700 or so fans utterly spellbound three-and-a-half hours.
Townsend plays stripped-back acoustic versions of his genre-smashing tunes. His effects-enhanced acoustic guitar sounds like a subtle symphony, as Townsend commands the fretboard like a true virtuoso. With 30-odd releases to his name, it's impossible for Townsend to cover everything, but he does his best, touching on material from his early metal days with Strapping Young Lad and his '90s solo beginnings, moving through Devin Townsend Band and Devin Townsend Project, right up to his latest quirky but monumental opus, Empath. He tweaks the lyrics and arrangements of virtually every song, of course.
Devin Townsend. Photos by Clinton Hatfield.
And it is all delivered with that voice. It is a voice that envelopes you and carries you away. Sometimes it is as delicate as a breeze, sometimes operatic. In this setting, without the extreme sound and fury of Townsend's band to distract, it is a thing of wonder.
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This tour also includes Q&A sections, which are driven by written questions from audience members. Tonight he talks as much as he sings, showing endearing wit and self-deprecating charm. He shares his deep and heartfelt philosophies on life, music, marriage, parenthood and plenty more, giving invaluable advice to young artists (and indeed parents), and even telling the tale of the first time he was caught masturbating by his mother (at the age of 42). It is a talkfest, but an extraordinarily enjoyable one.
Tonight is a rare, raw glimpse into the mind, soul and life of an individual with endless creativity and talent - a deep-thinking, switched on and philosophical mind with so much to give to the world.