While preparing my list of top 5 albums and concerts of 2019 for Montreal Rocks I was giving one last listen to some of my top picks and while searching online to verify some information I ran into a top 10 prog list. At the very top of that list was Devin Townsend‘s own Empath but it also was on the top 5 positions in at least 3 more lists of (IMO) very reputable sources.
Why am I telling you this? Because I have heard maybe two songs from this musician in my whole life and I think one of them was by accident. I like progressive rock, as a couple of my other reviews on this site can attest to, but I mostly lean towards the classic stuff. When it comes to newer progressive rock, I consume sparingly from it and do so maybe one band at a time. So it is no surprise that I have missed out on Devin’s incredible music for so long.
Not only was his music surprisingly good but also the way he handled the stage and addressed us in the crowd as if we were longtime friends. His charisma made this first show of the tour something akin to being witness to a pre-release version of the tour. A couple of false starts, confused stares on stage and even some bandmates playing a song live for the first time ever. This rawness impregnated the show with a warmth and an authenticity that I have rarely seen in any prog/rock concert.
As for the songs themselves, I didn’t know any by name and only was able to recall some of the pieces from his latest album and listening to them live was a whole other level. Once the band got to play, the musicianship shone through and it was easy to see why Devin had chosen the musicians he did. Not only that but his voice and guitar skills were the invisible thread that pushed the pieces forward and made sure the sentimental charge was there, and we could feel the goosebumps he had in mind when composing the songs. Most notable for me were the (now favourites) masterpieces of Evermore, Genesis, Deadhead and Ih! Ah!.
Unfortunately, the original aim of this article was to encourage you to go and see him live for the rest of the tour but I had to update the article to reflect the drastic and surreal changes that all our lives have taken during the last few weeks. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the planned journey through North America was cancelled and with it the band’s income for many months to come. If you feel like you want to help them out, had your ticket but got refunded or wanted to go, you can donate through the GoFundMe he has set up, not only will you help out during these tough times for musicians everywhere but he is giving back to the community several rare gems, songs, videos he has released or prepared for this occasion under the Quarantine Project banner. Donate and watch the videos here https://www.gofundme.com/f/DevinTownsendSupportTeam.
Review – Ricardo D Flores
Photos – Alex Rene
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