10 November 2015

Review: Devin Townsend Presents: Ziltoid Live At The Albert Hall

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So, where do I begin ??

If you are familiar with DT’s work, you will know what to expect, but as I’m a DT Virgin, I’ll be looking at this new release from someone new to his music.

This package is available thus: Limited Edition 3CD & 2 DVD & BluRay Artbook (incl. extensive bonus material and full documentary), Special Edition 3 CD & DVD Digipak, BluRay (incl. extensive bonus material and full documentary) and digital download. What I would say is a typical Inside Out release, well thought out, superb packaging and brilliant value for money. I know the vinyl purists hark back to the “good ol’ days” when vinyl was king (..and trust me, I remember those days well !!), but having purchased a number of Inside Out releases over the years, have always found their CD releases to go the extra mile to bring the fans a quality product and this one very much continues in that vein, well done guys – outstanding presentation.

Let’s take a look at the content and material.

12112262_1091156614242993_2292398306665613109_nFeaturing the entire ‘Dark Matters’ album from ‘Z²’, played front to back, plus a 2nd set of the most popular tracks from Devin’s career as well as rarely played tracks (picked by the fans through a Facebook poll in advance of the event), this release offers a perfect overview of Devin’s work past and present. It was directed by Paul M Green (Devin Townsend, Opeth, BB King, Steve Hackett) and features special guests such as Dominique Lenore Persi (Stolen Babies), Chris Jericho (world-famous wrestler and singer of US band Fozzy) and Jean Savoie, with video narration by Bill Courage, as well as 12 singers & actors as cast and choir.

As I was not too familiar with DT’s work, I was obviously a bit apprehensive about this, especially as it opens  – I thought I’d inadvertently loaded “Muppets From Space” !! There are a number of cut scenes throughout which help to bring the back story to life and judging by the number of fans down the front waving Ziltoid hand puppets around, the assembled multitude (this was a sold out gig) knew what to expect… Imagine, if you will, a cross between Flash Gordon, War Of The Worlds by Jeff Wayne, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Alice Cooper  – you won’t go far wrong. This was a long gig – 2hrs, 40 mins and you get to see the whole nine yards. Split into two sets, as stated above, the first half (CD1) ramps up the pomp, panto and puppets to bring the story of “Ziltoid” to life. It is here where you get to meet a wonderfully bizarre and eccentric collection of characters – Captain Spectacular, The Poozers (don’t ask, let’s just say they look like a bollock bag with eyes !!), War Princess and, of course, Ziltoid. The stage layout is amazing, with 12 backing singers, actors and full band in place. This is an extremely well though-out production, I wouldn’t even begin to know how long it took to set up and with multiple huge screens to enhance the story, it looked like a VERY immersive experience, having seen it, I suspect those who were fortunate enough to be there on that magical evening back in April will remember it forever as probably one of the best gigs they’ve ever experienced. If DT decides to run it again, I for one will be there in person.

The story is based around an attempted World invasion, I won’t go into too much detail as it may spoil the fun, but it is INCREDIBLY silly, zany and very tongue-in-cheek. The band and audience know this and it’s all taken in the context in which it was written. The background music is obviously provided by the band and includes some real head-bangin’ moments, rock the Albert guys !!

The second and third CD’s include the second set, which features a number of tracks from Devin’s back catalogue as selected by the fans, so if you’re looking to get a general overview of DT’s music, this is probably a damn good place to start. From slow numbers to head-bangers (we even get a fucking Country ‘n Western effort “Heatwave” which sounded like a lot of fun) , this guy knows how to keep the masses happy. Plenty of audience rapport, some awesome Flying-V guitars, solid musicianship from Prog’s very own Uncle Fester and all wrapped up in Inside Out’s usual quality packaging.

An essential purchase for existing fans, anyone keen to check out DT’s music and most of all, anyone willing to take a look at the PROPER way to entertain and amuse. Buy it, watch it and be amazed, if you buy only ONE CD/DVD this year, make it this one – outstanding.

Progmeister

By The Progmeister