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Live Reviews : Devin Townsend Project & sleepmakewaves @ 170 Russell, Melbourne 23/05/2017

By on May 24, 2017

Images: Cameron Stewart
Words: Jacob O’Shea

The first of two nights in Melbourne on the Devin Townsend Project‘s Transcendence tour and what a treat it is. This show added due to Wednesdays show selling out so quickly and you can see why with the quality of both bands tonight.

Kicking off proceedings were Sydney’s prog instrumentalists Sleepmakeswaves in triumphant style. It’s always a pleasure catching a band live I personally didn’t know much about until hearing they were supporting DTP. Their sweeping prog makes for a perfect intro to the night. The peak being the ‘prog as fuck’ 10 minute ‘At the Edge of Everything’, with the band demonstrating an impressive level of cohesion and musicianship with such a complex piece of music. A bit of on stage banter never goes a miss either with the band letting us know they only had 1 song left when they had 2, and reminding us not to let instrumental prog bands near microphones. The only downside of Sleepmakeswaves set was that it wasn’t longer. Be sure to check out their latest album Made of Breath Only, it’s a beautiful album, you’ll feel like your being taken on a journey, a good one I hasten to add.


A nice little interlude of Ziltoid radio follows before DTP take to the stage, with genital jokes galore and a bit of Enya keeping everyone entertained.

Is there a more eclectic musician in modern heavy music? Capable of producing some of the must thought provoking music on the planet. As well as moments of unrelenting heaviness. As Devin himself said tonight, heavy music really can span the whole breadth of emotions. Despite Devin’s croaky voice what an epic show it was. Kicking off with ‘Rejoice’ and the brilliant ‘Night’ from the seminal Ocean Machine which got those heads banging, and being honest you could barely notice any struggles with Devin’s voice, the man himself may disagree!

Ever since Stormbending had been released as the lead track from DTP’s latest album ‘Transcendence’ you just knew it would sound astounding in a live setting, the opening riff gives you the feeling the album title suggests of transcending above the problems of us mere mortals. The guitar work of Dave Young is sublime, and many jaws were dropped in awe of his tapping solo in Stormbending. The set flows superbly, with Failure rolling nicely into ‘Hyperdrive’. It’s a beautiful thing to witness how different songs invoke seperately feelings, the mellow singalong of ‘Where we belong’, has everyone belting out the words at the top of their lungs, to the considerably dark ‘Deadhead’. As Devin states was written back in 2002 in a darker time of his life. ‘Its all in the heat of the moment, it’s all in the pain’. You can see on Devin’s face himself reliving whatever emotions he was feeling at the time, and etched look of determination particularly struck me. The spiralling riffs of ‘Deadhead’ are a joy to behold live.

Devin Townsend Project

Dev struggles with his voice in ‘Ziltoid goes Home’ prompting his own call of that song can ‘eat a dick’. Everyone is more than happy to lend a hand in belting out ‘Supercrush!’ Rounding off the regular set with ‘March of the Poozers’ and the masterpiece ‘Kingdom’.

A three song ‘obligatory’ as stated by Dev encore follows, And a nice little rendition of an improv about Melbourne having a cute mole inbetween it’s thighs! An acoustic rendition of ‘Ih-Ah!’ Followed by the prog metal epic of ‘Barstard’, the whole band is on fire, with Ryan Van Poederooyen smashing away on the skins and Dave Waddell’s driving bass in Barstard showing the whole band at the top of their game. Rounding off with Higher gets a bit of a pit breaking out and the first crowd surfers of the night.

It’s a humbling experience to watch a group of musicians at their best, but also perhaps even more importantly every member of the band just seems like a genuinely top bloke. With Devin staying behind to shake fans hands and have a chat, a really nice touch.

It’s a really well balanced set, with a nice mix of older numbers from Devin’s earlier career as the Devin Townsend bands and from his work as the Devin Townsend project in more recent years.

It was my first time managing to catch DTP live and they were truly superb. Anyone managing to catch them at the remaining shows are in for a treat. It was summed up perfectly on the way out as I overheard one woman simply saying ‘Hes just so lovely’, in reference to Devin. It’s hard to disagree.