Live: Devin Townsend

His honourable baldness, unplugged and puppet-free.

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“Welcome to St Churches! Of, er… Godington!” Devin Townsend beams good-naturedly, like a bald, Canadian Brian Blessed. In a checked shirt, specs and comfy-looking trousers, the affable eccentric suits this place of worship oddly well.

His crude alien puppet Ziltoid – the focus for half his Royal Albert Hall spectacular this year – gets one camped-up name-check, but otherwise it’s a stripped-back night of Devin Townsend Project and solo tunes. Plus a distortion-free take on his extreme metal alma mater, Strapping Young Lad. It’s really good.

Armed with acoustic guitars and a lot of echo, it’s new-age Townsend – proper ‘wind chimes ‘n’ whale song’ new-age. Meditative moments like Funeral could be anti-stress soundtracks. Splashes of spacey improvisation intersperse the spine-tingly likes of Hyperdrive, Devin’s colossal vocal range controlled down to the last thoughtfully deployed screech.

Self-aware musings give the sense of a cognitive behavioural therapy session. “I think I’m bipolar!” he quips cheerfully, before pouring raw emotion into a moving Deadhead. From the same guy who created Ziltoid the Omniscient? Maybe he has a point.

With less musical ability or weaker banter, Devin Townsend wouldn’t have half the impact. As it is, he’s a transportive yet deeply relatable figure, and tonight he’s at his very human best.

Welcome to the Church Of Noise...

Welcome to the Church Of Noise... (Image credit: Lee van der Byl)

Classic Rock 217: Reviews

Polly Glass
Deputy Editor, Classic Rock

Polly is deputy editor at Classic Rock magazine, where she writes and commissions regular pieces and longer reads (including new band coverage), and has interviewed rock's biggest and newest names. She also contributes to Louder, Prog and Metal Hammer and talks about songs on the 20 Minute Club podcast. Elsewhere she's had work published in The Musician, delicious. magazine and others, and written biographies for various album campaigns. In a previous life as a women's magazine junior she interviewed Tracey Emin and Lily James – and wangled Rival Sons into the arts pages. In her spare time she writes fiction and cooks.