Devin Townsend // VOLA // Live Review // Olympia Theatre // Dublin
I have had this one marked in my diary for quite some time, the return of Devin Townsend to the island of Ireland and in tow Danish Prog-Rock maestros VOLA! Both artists we have seen before live, Devin in Belfast 2019 pre-pandemic and VOLA @ Bloodstock but things have kinda changed since we all last caught up and 2022 is a huge year for the music industry once again and even more so for the live scene.
Tonight we are at the iconic Olympia Theatre in Dublin, Devin’s first port of call on his Irish/UK/European Tour before he takes his team to the infamous Royal Albert Hall in London and then onto Europe. So do check out Devin’s website and Vola’s website for their remaining dates and ticket information.
Tonight’s support comes from Danish Prog-Rock sensation VOLA who recently dropped a stunning live album “Live From The Pool” courtesy of Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records. A stunning Audi on and visual extravaganza that perfectly intertwines Vola’s cinematic soundscape with its unique and dystopian backdrop to create a perfectly balanced piece or art.
We caught up with drummer Adam Janzi before the gig to chat about the band’s evolution and returning back to the live scene and the upcoming gig at the Royal Albert Hall:
Tonight though is a treat for the Irish lovers of all things Prog, for those who have yet to experience VOLA in the flesh they are in for a serious treat, The Devin Townsend experience is just the cherry on top of the cake. With 3 studio albums under their belt with Mascot and a focused sound from 2015’s Inmazes, 2018’s Applause From A Distant Crowd and 2021’s Witness, VOLA have no shortage of material to unleash on the Irish crowd so it will be interesting to see how their set plays out.
The guys open up their set with the stunningly beautiful ’24 Light Years’ and immediately are embraced by the Irish crowd, their beautiful balance between the brutal and the melodic is a gorgeous blanket in which to wrap yourself up in on a night such as this, playing opening tracks from their 2021 release Witness they dig into their set and unleash unholy prog hell on the Irish faithful. Their crazy strobe lights for the first three songs provide a few challenges as a photographer but look great as a visual, Damn you VOLA and you’re proggy goodness! They slow things down for us to catch our breath before a wall of disturb crashes done once again, their sound is huge for a band with one guitar, keys and a bass player you would honestly think there is an army up on stage with the barrage you are subjected too, thankfully as mentioned before it is beautifully balanced by the melodic elements that VOLA are so perfectly nuanced by, as a live show, two words, absolutely immense!
Devin Townsend is an enigma, a highly prolific artist who continues to push boundaries in every which way he can, never standing still Townsend continues to defy logic with his unwavering ability to create beyond what others would feel is possible, an artist that others can only dare to dream to emulate. From the bold beginnings of Strapping Young Lad to The Devin Townsend Band he forged a path of individuality that had has adoring fans eating out of the palm of his hand.
After a short hiatus in 2007 to concentrate on life with his family, he returned with The Devin Townsend Project unleashing a fresh new wave of music onto the scene until the only thing that could stop him in his wake was the 2020 pandemic robbed us all of more DT joy! Now two years later Devin returns with the set of all sets, a homage to his fan’s demands and a blistering evening for all involved on stage and off!
So what can we expect post-Covid Devo? Well a man with a great sense of humour and humility, as he takes to the stage a little overwhelmed by the response of the crowd and a little out of his comfort zone once again after two years of hiatus, apart from as he mentions Bloodstock which we last caught up with him, but the stage even seems alien to Devo as he tries to remember the starting point and even the key for the solo! It’s great to know that underneath his superman cape he is human after all.
Though as he slays his way through his set that was probably the only human aspect to it as he looks infallible, the great thing about a DT show though is his continuous interaction with the audience constant involving them in the show, the fans really appreciate it from those on the ground to the few in the higher seats and boxes within the Olympia Devin reaches out to all of them.
In contrast to Vola’s explosive opener, Devin’s set is a sonic rollercoaster that constantly keeps you on your toes, always wondering where he is going to go next, a crazy complex collection of filthy riffs that mesmerise and shake the fillings out of your teeth. His guttural vocals and wailing screams showcase the versatility of this stunning artist. The sound is sublime, from the tone of his guitar cutting through the mix to the vocals against the wall of distortion you are fully immersed in this crazy beautiful waterfall of proggy goodness that fills the room and Dublin approves. A packed out house welcomes Devin back to Ireland, it has been too long but somehow I don’t see it being as long before he is back on these shores once again.