Devin Townsend Project Opera House, Toronto ON December 10

Devin Townsend Project Opera House, Toronto ON December 10
There is something magical about Devin Townsend Project concerts. First of all, there is mounting evidence that Townsend is, in fact, superhuman. The Devin Townsend Project has been on tour almost constantly for the last ten months, supporting Ghost and Deconstruction, as well as the expansion of the Ziltoid project. Prior to embarking on this last Canadian tour of the year, Townsend is coming off performing a series of intense shows in the UK's Union Chapel in Islington, where he played all four DTP albums (Ki, Addicted, Ghost and Deconstruction) between November 10 and 13, four nights in a row. Unsurprisingly, Townsend looked absolutely exhausted: pale, thinner than usual and teasing himself for his tiredness -- "You know how some days, you just wake up dumb?"

Even a spent Townsend, running on fumes and love and craziness, still puts on a hell of a show, making ridiculous expressions, radiating love out to the audience and running around the stage doing series of hilarious dances. At every pause, he thanked the crowd effusively. Townsend's stage presence is characterized by pure joy, a kind of exultant peace that comes over his face when he is not posing or pulling faces. He derives genuine pleasure from performing, and an equally genuine pleasure in the audience's enjoyment of the show. This infuses the entire concert with a warmth and positivity that remains unparalleled among heavy metal concert experiences.

The set was well-balanced and contemporary, featuring "Juular" and "Stand" from Deconstruction, "Supercrush!" and a lovely, acoustic version of "Ih-Ah!" from Addicted. It was also quite Ziltoid the Omniscient heavy, to everyone's delight, featuring "ZTO" and "By Your Command" early in the set, and "Colour Your World" and "The Greys" in the encore (which Townsend announced by declaring "fake encore alert!" and encouraging the audience to boo until he and the rest of the band returned to the stage). Townsend also pulled a surprisingly amount of material from 2001's Terria, most notably ending the set with an extended, powerful rendition of "Deep Peace." Sprinkled throughout the set were early Devin Townsend Band pieces, including the super fun "Vampira."

All of the songs were accompanied by videos -- some abstract, pulsing images that accented the music, others complex, narrative music videos. The video component added to the mixed-media showcase, something that Townsend is doing more and more in his live shows.

The energy level of this concert ebbed and flowed, reaching a series of crescendos during the more intense pieces and then growing stiller, cooler, during the more peaceful, introspective songs. Throughout all the shifts and turns in the show, the audience was there every step of the way, joyous and celebratory, singing along to every song, pouring out love. It all became a life-affirming, faith-renewing, deeply satisfying show.