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 Devin Townsend Presents The Retinal Circus (2CD Edition) Review

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Reign In Metal
Reign In Metal

Zodiac : Aries Metal Reputation : 88
Join date : 2012-01-05
Location : Vacationing in Hell

PostDevin Townsend Presents The Retinal Circus (2CD Edition) Review

Devin Townsend Presents The Retinal Circus (2CD Edition)
Inside Out Music
Running Time CD1: 67:46 -- Running Time CD2: 57:32 -- Total Running Time 125.18

If I was at University and had to write a thesis about somebody then I would probably choose Canadian Devin Townsend! He is such a unique, interesting, intelligent, funny and wacky person, even before you get to the huge catalogue of music he has amassed over the last two decades, that I have had serious issues keeping this review to a sensible length. At any rate, most of you shouldn't need a detailed introduction, and even if you did you've more than likely heard music by him without realizing.

I unwittingly first heard Devin's vocals on Steve Vai's 'Sex And Religion; album in 1993, but it wasn't until Strapping Young Lad's self titled third album in 2003 that I made the connection and started to listen to him regularly. He has released around twenty albums in total and I now have them all but that's another story. I'm here to review 'The Retinal Circus', it has jumped straight to number one in my releases of the year list and I haven't seen the DVD/Blu-Ray versions yet!

'The Retinal Circus' was a onetime only performance (staged at The Roundhouse, London on October 27th 2012) of a 'musical' that Devin wrote to loosely tie together the music from various stages of his career. A good friend of mine actually went to the gig, and it will forever remain one of those 'missed opportunities' that I didn't get to be there in person to witness it (he had to buy his tickets nearly a year in advance). At the very least, we now have a wonderful variety of versions to choose from so that it can be played and replayed, which you will want to do!

My 2CD version is just over two hours in length but I think the concert actually lasted around three hours. All the songs are present but you can hear several edits on the audio where, I'm assuming, what was happening on stage requires a visual element to appreciate it. From the off, listening to Steve Vai's opening narration, you just know that this is going to be something special and Devin doesn't let you down. With around 100 performers taking part on stage throughout the course of the evening, and incredibly just one and a half days rehearsal time, this is sublime from start to finish.

'Effervescent' and 'True North' kick things off before leading into the awesome 'Lucky Animals' (all from Epicloud) and there is no looking back. Twenty Five songs covering many of his albums which lay waste to the venue. It's only when you hear these songs played together that you truly start to understand and appreciate what a gifted and twisted person Devin Townsend is and what an incredible body of work he has amassed over the years. How he managed to put this event together in a relatively short period of time and on a smaller budget than you might think is astounding! I unfortunately do not have a list of all the people taking part (they all deserve a mention) but, apart from Devin and his band, two performers do stand out. Regular collaborator 'Anneke van Giersbergen' sings lead and backing vocals on many of the songs and her voice is beautiful throughout. When you hear both of them sing together it is a absolute pleasure. Also popping up on several tracks is 'Jed Simon' (former 'other' guitarist in Strapping Young Lad). If it's possible he adds even more oomph to the sound and the versions of SYL's 'Detox' and 'Love? are immense in scope.

Live albums, especially ones which are essentially just an audio version of a DVD release, don't hold the same gravitas that they once did. Retinal Circus isn't suddenly going to be whispered about in the same breath as 'Live And Dangerous' (Thin Lizzy), 'The Eagle Has Landed' (Saxon), 'Live At Budokan' (Cheap Trick) or 'Live At Leeds' (The Who), but it's Devin Townsend at his absolute best, performing something that only he could come up with, it will still be considered a classic and talked about for many years to come.

I so want to give this the 'perfect' thumbs up but I cannot because I know that the DVD/Blu-Ray versions (I've already pre-ordered them), with all the visuals added, are going to blow the socks off of this and that's a really frightening thought, especially if you are one of the lucky ones who manage to get hold of 'Die-Hard Deluxe Fan Box', which looks out of this world! Many people nowadays say there isn't the talent and originality that there was in the 1970's and 80's. Well I was just about old enough to remember the tail end of the 70's and lived the 80's in full on rock/metal mode and I can tell you that he is certainly one of, if not the, most talented musician that I've ever heard and seen live. Genius is a word used far too often these days but in the case of Devin Townsend it is truly justified.

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