Devin Townsend, Klone – Manchester Academy: Live Review

Devin Townsend, Klone, Fixation – Manchester Academy – 31st March 2023

devin townsend

Some may have been critical of Devin’s Lightwork album citing a softening of the blow, songs that sounded like Tears For Fears and more. We loved it. It was almost like it pulled on some of our favourite aspects of his music. Definitely less Metal!

The band that’s accompanied Devin around Europe and now into the UK, includes Mr go-to drummer of the moment, Darby Todd and James Leach on bass – both being retained from Devin’s post-pandemic Metal band (guitarist Ste Platt makes a homecoming appearance on the Love? encore). Old Empath touring buddy Mike Keneally is the master’s left hand on guitar, keys and anything else, earning him the ‘wizard’ title from Devin. Probably the MVP member of the team. If your eyes are ever off Devin, you might look over and spot him playing guitars of various sorts and keyboards, often both at the same time, such is the skill of a man to whom many of the greats (Devin, Zappa) have turned. That’s not to mention his black shirt and smart tie and tightest of trousers…

Of course, you’re barely able to take your eyes off the man at stage centre whose interaction with those at the barrier and beyond sees him wielding numerous soft toys to add to his own octopus plus a Canadian flag that takes pride of place on the drum riser. Whether or not the owners have travelled all the way, or maybe just from Oldham…

Conducting the masses in a huge singalong on Lightworker the pace and the commitment continues with a giant Kingdom. A few mighty growls and then he’s into Pavarotti mode, the angel and the devil combining towards a massive “I, I wonder why, I wonder” and “Stay with me Lord” as the crowd belt back every word with interest. It’s quite some feeling being at the front and feeling the force(s).

The thundering Dimensions gets the added squeals from the electronic theremin that’s disguised by an octopus plush and Devin is goofing and hamming it up in spades. Initial rush over, it’s great to see Terria mined for a power pop that soon turns metal blast through The Fluke and a chill out of sorts with the emotional tug – “Anytime you need me babe, I will be there” – in the goosebump-inducing Deep Peace. They sandwich another jewel that in Deadhead – just another monster classic thrown into the mix. Cue more unearthly growls and epic sounds as young Keneally makes his presence felt by creating a vast presence from the uncluttered stage and into the back of the Academy. It’s overwhelmingly huge pounding music and absolutely glorious.

Naturally, Spirits Will Collide is anthemic and uplifting. Even writing about it now sends a tingle up the spine; a semi-religious and spiritual awakening – just what Liam Gallagher’s “biblical, biblical” phrase was made for. Truth similarly keeps the energy high – the quartet playing out a cinematic widescreen aperitif (not quite up to the orchestral Plovdiv version) for Bad Devil.

Like Santa Claus, Devin is the man who not only needs two tea bags, but spreads cheer and goodwill to the world – and the feeling is mutual. “I fucking love you guys!” he yells in a spontaneous outcry. He even invites recent band member/local fella Steve Platt onstage – “you’re more metal than all of us” to play on Love? For a rare occasion, Devin loses the guitar becomes a solo vocalist. “Like the dream where you don’t have any pants!” he jokes as the audience participation reaches possibly a new high on the final straight.

We’re particularly keen to witness the main support band, Klone – one of the first bands we reviewed on the ATB pages. They’ve continued to deliver for us and this tour is our first chance to see them in a live setting having had the appetite further whetted by their Alive live album. Un groupe de metal progressif Français, their current album, the set is drawn mostly from the current album Meanwhile record and the best of Le Grand Voyage – both faves of ours. They also have their terrific live album that harnesses their onstage power plus a decent back catalogue which they showcase rather nicely in their 45 minutes set.

Lively and engaged would be an understatement. While vocalist Yann Ligner has a hint of the melancholic tones of Katatonia’s Jonas Renkse, invoking an emotive and melancholy tone, he’s flanked by three Klonians who brandish their instruments with aplomb and toss their hair in the sort of stylish manner that only a French prog Metal band could. Nicely paced, Klone power through a pair of opening numbers that show off before reaching into their bag of tricks for more atmospheric excursions with some gorgeous passages in Keystone and Yonder. For sheer brutality though, check out their version of Bjork’s Army Of One they’ve converted into a huge slab of mosh pit ready relentless Nu Metal that would have satisfied those in the room who have a penchant for blood and thunder. Mo

Their Violent Tendencies song seems as about an apt description as any for a band who veer towards the aggressive side of the Proggier metal continuum with the throat ripping vocals often making deadly appearances to provide a contrast to some of their subtlety. From Neurosis to What We Have Done the four-piece packed in a half hour of intensity shrouded in saturated red and blue light and the occasional cloud of smoke. Following in the esteemed footsteps of their fellow countrymen Leprous will see Fixation not going too much wrong.

Devin Townsend  online:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Youtube

Klone onlineKscope Website / FacebookTwitter / Bandcamp / Instagram

Fixation online: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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