The music business is only insincere if you buy into the idea that business side of it is an after thought to its artistic motivations. If you look at it is a business, just one that by and large has a pretty creative output, it’s as sincere as any kind of business can be.
The fact that sales matter, downloading is stealing, image does count for a lot and that perception is just as important as a great record doesn’t detract from the quality of the best music. It’s just how time has forced us to consume it.
In this environment someone like Devin Townsend is almost an anomaly. His musical output is incredibly eclectic, his business approach remarkably on point and he may just be one of the sincerest performers ever. Quite how someone composed of so many contradictions has become so successful is pretty perplexing to say the least.
One of my friends, a musician whom I respect immensely, was at this show with me and commented on how underrated Devin Townsend remains. Another friend later commented on one of my pictures from the event how he had the perfect level of success to be so creative without the pressure of being so well known.
They’re probably both right. You can hardly play the Royal Albert Hall if you’re unsuccessful, but how does someone who writes song as universally appealing as “Life”, as deeply affecting as “Funeral” and as genuine as “Ia Ah” remain off the charts and mainstream magazine coverage?
Probably because he sits right in the perfect flux of what makes the music business a business. He has the songs but not “the look”. The quality of his music and its appeal can’t be ignored but it doesn’t sit well on the front of magazines. His savvy business approach doesn’t offset how relateable he is to his audience.
You can’t fall victim to hype if the road you follow totally bypasses it. That or it could be the coffee obsessed Alien puppet thing. It’s a pretty close call.
Doesn’t matter though does it? I’d love artists like Devin to be arena level and the All Time Lows of the world to not be a thing but…that isn’t the case. But what is the case though is that Devin Townsend is able to do small intimate “An Evening With” tours like this and have them wonderfully unique and heart warming events.
When I get to see things gigs like this, and not only that, photograph them, what on earth am I even complaining about?
This evening was as magical as a venue like Cottier’s Theater would demand. I saw a good friend get married here and this might have been better. Although I wasn’t dressed as nice at Devin’s show to my shame.
The man’s voice remains a total marvel, hurtling from the largest of melodies to the gentlest of whispers which almost sound like some sort of lush patch based on Enya in a blink of an eye. There’s also the occasional metal scream for good measure because if you don’t do that sort of thing in a church, where else are you going to do it?
It’s difficult to determine whether the affecting moments left more of a mark than the confidential and comical ones did, but that juxtaposition of ideas has always been the appeal of Townsend’s music. It’s obtusely heavy on occasion but its incredibly catchy, it’s intricate without being off putting, catchy without being saccharine and delicate yet doesn’t sacrifice the slightest amount of intensity. The fact you can think about his music, but you don’t have to, is a wonderful aspect of the appreciation of these songs.
We could have done with less of Joe though. He was a very loud man whose raucous interruptions weren’t as comical out loud as they were in his head.
It’s a music journalism trope to suggest that perfection isn’t cool. We want it be a bit rough yeah? Because it’s more raw. It’s more real. Which is utter nonsense.
Mistakes don’t make anything real. Sincerity is all that makes things real. And sincerely, I’d suggest that this evening spent in Cottier’s Theater with Devin Townsend, and every else who was there to share their love for this amazing music, was pretty perfect.