The first thing you notice about Fixation is singer Jonas W Hansen. He has a mighty voice, not to mention a presence, but then what takes over is their sheer diversity. There’s a bit of everything during the course of their half an hour here, but whatever it is, is done with the class of a band to watch. Their latest EP – released just last week – yields a couple, “Ignore The Disarray” and “Stay Awake” and both are indicative of a band who loves to innovate and has more to offer. “Bloodline” from one of their earlier EP’s is heavy, but “What Have We Done”, the last one they play is a hint at much more to come – by borrowing from everywhere, Fixation can play anywhere, so expect to see much more of the Fins in coming years.
Klone have been doing this since 1995 and theirs is a sound of intensity. The other week I was in this room watching the Finnish masters of melancholy, Katatonia, and in many ways, Klone are their close brethren, the sound has the atmospheric weight, and the standout “Keystone” is characterized by swirling, ephemeral melodies that take listeners on a journey. “Night and Day” seems adept at encapsulating the yin and yang of Klone’s sound – ferocious yet fragile. Indeed it became clear, from watching them for the first time that Klone’s music is not meant to be dipped into – it is meant to be fully immersed in. The aptly titled “Immersion” was a perfect example of this, with its slow-building atmosphere is one to lose yourself in. The sets one cover, “Army of One” was another standout – I am not sure Bjork’s original ever sounded like this. And “Yonder,” with its slow-burning brilliance, was evidence of the band’s ability to craft a song that builds and builds until it reaches a final sledgehammer riff. Klone, a band that exists in the shadows and in the margins, have something truly original about them.
Conventional gig reviews don’t begin with the encore, but this one is going to (to be fair it could be argued that conventional gigs don’t involve an Octopus as a Mascot, a vast array of head gear, a study in coughing and fart jokes, either, like this one did).
It’s in the encore that you can sum Devin Townsend up. After finishing “Bad Devil” with a kind of bluesy jam, he’d said “look we’re going to go off for 30 seconds and come back”, when they arrived after that half a minute, he’d smiled and said “the crowd goes mild”. This is an artist who doesn’t care for your boundaries. He lives by his own.
The setlist for this show is already up on Setlist FM, and there’s a note after “Why?” the first of the trio in the encore that says: “Devin performed while collecting and carrying the audiences soft toys”, he did. and no one thinks this is odd.
He’d followed this up with a brilliant “Call of the Void”, one of four he’d played from last years “Lightwork” tour de force, and all his layers, before ending with “Love?” from his Strapping Young Lad days and that: the boundary blurring, the innovation and the playful silliness, is all the ingredients for the show.
The gig started with Devin exclaiming, “Now I’m a heavy metal singer, watch” but in typically contrary style the first song “Lightworker” proved anything but. Instead, it was multi-layered, atmospheric and progressive.
The next one, “Kingdom” was indeed heavy, but on his terms, and it was clear that he loved it as he grinned from ear to ear, like some ringmaster looking over what he surveys.
Devin’s mascot, Squidgy the octopus, appeared for the wonderfully unhinged “Dimensions”, and the energy of “The Fluke” was such that you couldn’t fail to be swept into its orbit. “Deadhead” brought swathes of sound, and “Deep Peace” provided the acoustic contrast, pushing the boundaries in the truest sense of prog. Or, it did, until Townsend improvised some keyboards, just because.
Another of the best moments on “Lightwork”, “Heartbreaker” was introduced tongue in cheek, as a song that “a lot of times loses the audience, but we like playing it, see you in five mins”. “Spirits will Collide”, delivered with incredible headgear, was introduced as “a song about love, baby”, before “Truth” and its visible fashion.
Which leaves us just about where we started, and “Bad Devil” and the encore. As he’d played “Love?” Townsend had said what you imagine is the first serious thing he’d said all night. “Thank you for letting me create music for 30 years” and what a body of work it is. Very few have this breadth of material, even fewer deliver it like Devin Townsend. He’s a one off and that spontaneity means that no two shows are exactly alike. This one was what he’d conjured for us tonight, and it was a magical glimpse into an off-kilter world.