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Live Reviews : Devin Townsend Project & sleepmakewaves @ The Enmore Theatre, Sydney 22/5/2017

By on May 24, 2017

Words: Rod Whitfield
Photos: Lilen Pautasso

(Click here to view the full photo gallery)

The great Canadian geniuses’s genuinely humble style apparently now extends even to his merch design, as well. His new tee-shirt has a self-description – a perception of his status and style – on the back that reads: ‘Lower Mid-Tier Prog Metal’. As a long-time fan, I would personally not agree with any of that. I would place him upper-mid tier at worst, in terms of his profile as an artist. In terms of the respect he has earned from other bands, critics and most importantly the fans he would be at the very pointy end.

Musically, it’s not entirely accurate, either. I would not place him in the ‘metal’ category any more or even strictly ‘prog’. However, the term ‘rock’ doesn’t sit that comfortably on his modern songwriting and output, either. In essence, the only real genre classification you can lump on the man and his music is that it’s Devin Townsend music. He exists in a genre of one.

So really, those words are there simply as a self-effacing piss-take.


The lineup for his 2017 Aussie tour is truly dazzling. Opening for the great man is none other than one of the finest all-instrumental bands on the planet, Sydney’s own sleepmakeswaves; and right from the very get-go, from the thundering opening notes of To You They are Birds, to me They are Voices in the Forest, they prove that they absolutely belong in such exalted company. Even without the aid of vocals, this band fill the big room with titanic, high quality sound, and fill the stage with their energy, their movement and their personalities.

I can imagine that there is a number of people in the steadily growing crowd this night who may not have heard of these guys, and several of those may not even appreciate all-instrumental music. But there would be very few who are not won over by the classy, dynamic power thundering off the stage, the sheer exuberance of their performance and this band’s complex, evocative music.

Sleepmakeswaves’s 50 minute opening set this night is just about the perfect way to lead in to an hour-and-a-half of DTP mastery.

With every album he brings out, Devin Townsend writes a new song that becomes his most epic live track. On last year’s Transcendence album, which this tour is promoting, it is the monumental Stormbending, which reaches such heights in a live setting it’s impossible to calculate its trajectory. In fact, he crafted two of these types of tunes on that album, set-closer Higher is the very reason that word ‘epic’ was invented.

Devin Townsend Project

Elsewhere, there is a plethora of stupendous Hevy Devy live staples such as Bastard, Night, Supercrush! and Deadhead, a sweet and spontaneous first encore of Il-Ah! and a tasteful selection from the ‘Ziltoid’ saga, on the tenth anniversary of the first chapter’s release.

And speaking of staples, the DTP band, who have been with him for almost a decade now, just keep getting even more solid, more powerful, more spectacular, and their sheer ‘in the pocket’ professionalism allows the great one up front to unleash his towering voice, illustrious guitar talents and his good-natured, tongue in cheek antics to their most over the top extent.

This man, his band, his music and his career have taken on a truly mythical status now, transcending all semblance of genre, trend, age and sense of musical snobbery and elitism, and he sends the enraptured Enmore crowd home higher than they could possibly have imagined.

Lower mid-tier prog metal be damned.

Hevy Devy continues his Australia tonight with sleepmakeswaves tonight for a SOLD OUT show at 170 Russell, Melbourne

Wednesday 24th May – 170 Russell, Melbourne – SOLD OUT

Friday 26th May – Capitol, Perth



Rod Whitfield is a Melbourne-based writer and retired musician who has been writing about music since 1995. He has worked for Team Rock, Beat Magazine,, Heavy Mag, Mixdown, The Metal Forge, Metal Obsession and many others. He has written and published his memoirs of his life and times in the music biz, and also writes books, screenplays, short stories, blogs and more.