Review and Photos by Adam Wills
This summer I decided to embark on my first, long overdue European vacation. With a final destination resulting in attending Hellfest in France, I decided to take the scenic route to get there – London, Amsterdam, then off to France. While planning the logistics of the trip, I happened across the announcement of a Devin Townsend show in Groningen, NL – a mere couple hours from Amsterdam – and it coincided exactly when I planned to be in the area. Convenient. Then when I read the details on the show, and saw it would be featuring Anneke van Giersenbergen, I couldn’t contain my excitement… I had to attend.
Shortly before the show, I met up with Alternative Matter main man Raymond to chat, and share a pint and some local pub grub. We then proceeded to the venue where Devin had just started a brief acoustic set to open the show (there were no other openers). Concluding “Ih-Ah”, Devin took a couple minute break (in which we were entertained with “Ziltoid Radio”), and the band quickly hit the stage.
There’s numerous ways that metal shows are often described: epic; intense; but the best word to describe this show? Fun. Devin is refreshingly positive and enthusiastic as he jokes, pokes fun and chats with the crowd throughout the night, all the while performing with a combination of smiles and silly faces. And when you add Anneke’s glowing charm to the mix, you can’t help but have a great time.
Devin and company then proceeded to pound out a wonderful 16 song set, with a solid mixture of songs throughout Devin’s career – although we didn’t hear anything from Ghost (not sure how Devin plans to incorporate this material into his set). Anneke shined on the Addicted material, but also added a great touch to some of the other material (Truth/Om, Bad Devil) as well. The new tracks from Deconstruction sounded great, despite the chaotic nature of the material. Devin’s backing band consisting of Brian Waddell, Dave Young and Ryan Van Poederooyen are a well oiled machine, and despite their anxiousness for Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Finals, provided a solid framework for Devin’s wall of sound (as well as material for Devin’s between song stand-up material).
The finale of the evening came in the form of a group of about twenty people from the audience taking the stage with the band to belt out “Bend It Like Bender”. With everyone dancing, singing and cheering alongside Devin and Anneke, the moment perfectly summed up the evening – a gathering of musicians and fans to celebrate some great music, enjoy some great company, and have a heck of a lot of fun.