Devin Townsend Unplugged @ The Borderline, London

6th June 2012

When it comes to a live experience with Devin Townsend, you know it’s never going to be a show that is just thrown onto the memory pile. We all know Devin’s music is schizophrenic just by looking at his career’s catalogue, however seeing all eras of the legend played on a simple stage with just an acoustic guitar is bound to be as utterly spellbinding as you’d expect.

For many it was a lovely surprise to find out that tonight’s support was Danny Cavanagh of Anathema, who played beautiful renditions of his band’s classics such as ‘Fragile Dreams’ and ‘Flying’. For those who were less aware of Anathema’s amazing discography, he also played Tenacious D’s ‘Tribute’ and Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’, which he managed to add his English charm to, before ending the show with a special guest in the shape of his brother and bandmate Vince for a double serving of deep emotions.

Despite managing to set the tone for the night, Danny’s attempts are suddenly lost as Devin’s infamous Photoshopped slideshow causes laughter and a more informal feel once more. As soon as Mr Townsend graces the stage, you automatically acknowledge the humble aura he brings and the genuine mutual respect between crowd and artist. The venue is tiny compared to Devin’s upcoming Download set, which only adds to the intimacy, and the structure is unnecessary tonight as Devin asks the fans to shout requests to be played. Expected tear jerkers such as ‘Ih-Ah’ and ‘Funeral’ are thrown to the start of the set, hypnotising everyone from the word go thanks to Devy’s raw emotion. It’s fair to say the man is like a metal equivalent of Derren Brown. Regardless of how brutal the band shirt is you’re wearing, or how long your beard is, you look around the Borderline and everyone is in pure, static silence completely mesmerized.

Every now and then the daze is broken with the usual silly humour and acoustic renditions of ‘Juular’ and SYL rarity ‘Satan’s Ice Cream Truck’ mix things up a bit. Seeing as a lot of Devin’s discography is so old and never revisited, there are certain requests that go wrong or take a while for him to get into but no one judges him, as they just laugh along with him or wait patiently. At the end of the show, the mastermind applauds and thanks his audience in such a modest manner, it’s hard to believe that this man has written some of the most beautiful and brutal music in the last two decades without becoming an ego-fuelled monster and this is probably one of the main reasons he is such an inspiration both tonight and for the rest of time.

Reviewed by Lily Randall

Published on Click here to view images


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