Devin Townsend Project vs Meshuggah - Brixton Academy

It is somewhat telling that as I write this review in the days after this most juicy of bills, amongst the torturous emotional wrangling I'm suffering at the hands of Brentford FC, it is Devin Townsend's Epicloud that keeps picking me up and fuelling an uncharacteristically optimistic streak. The afterglow of a unique and special evening is so very warm and fuzzy.

Periphery gets proceedings off to a rocking start. Despite the early stage time, a reasonable number of folk have made it in time, with enough bodies in the beautiful hall to make it not feel empty. Yet the band are a bit lost on such a big stage, and whilst they warm the place up nicely, are hardly at their best in doing so.

The difficulty with this pairing of headliners is who should go first? Either way round, you struggle to see how one could follow the other. They might both be two of the finest, heaviest bands around today, but their approach is hugely contrasting. As it is, we get Meshuggah initially, and they are simply devastating. Arguably the heaviest live band going, this is ninety minutes of almost impenetrable, mind-crushing noise, and the crowd absolutely love it!

The sheer intensity of Meshuggah's set is mesmeric, an assault to the senses as the stupefying fast yet precise riffs are punctuated with a light show every bit as accurate. The sheer force of it all threatens to overwhelm and sweep the listener away as if on a tidal wave of anger and hatred. But the exhilaration, the adrenaline rush, is intoxicating.

So how do you follow that? Devin Townsend is a showman, an entertainer, and so he puts on a hell of a show to entertain us! Rather than trying to outgun the Swedes (an impossible task), with the magnificent Anneke van Giersbergen along for the ride, opener 'Angel' indicates this is going to be a lush, uplifting and powerful set.

The likes of 'More!' and 'Bad Devil' are hugely enjoyable, soaring slabs of exuberant rock, playing against 'Juular' and 'Planet Of The Apes' proving that Devin can still do monumentally heavy in his post-SYL days. But it is the Epicloud material that sticks out as the best in show. 'Liberation' closes the main set and a more joyous slice of rock is difficult to find.

And then we have the encore. Tonight's most romantic moment in the form of 'Divine' is swiftly followed by the most spectacular. A choir of close to 100 invade the stage for the finale of 'Grace', a stunning spectacle the likes of which no other band on the metal scene could conceive, let alone pull off with such aplomb. This was a very special night indeed.

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