Concert Review: Epic Kings and Idols Tour Featuring Katatonia + Devin Townsend Project at the Palladium in Worcester, MA
“Epic Kings and Idols” is a great name for a tour. It’s one that garners respect, but also demands that the acts therein live up to the name. That wasn’t a problem when the heavy metal roadshow came to Worcester.
Avant-garde metallers Stolen Babies hit the stage first, though their first song was plagued by sound problems. Everything but the snare drum and vocals were inaudible, a fact that vocalist and accordionist Dominique Lenore Persi poked fun at shortly thereafter. “We’re Stolen Babies, and welcome to our sound check!” Fortunately, everything was quickly fixed, and the rest of their oddball performance went off without a hitch. On any other tour, their music would seem out of place, but not here.
Following that was the criminally underrated Paradise Lost, longtime veterans of the British doom metal scene. Aside from playing choice pieces from their latest effort Tragic Idol, the band acknowledged their controversial synthrock phase by playing songs liked “Erased.” Love or hate that period of the band’s existence, the song (and the set) sounded fantastic live. Let’s hope this newfound spotlight will continue to shine on them so they’ll make more inroads stateside.
Then it was time for Katatonia, the Swedish masters of the melancholy. Their new record Dead End Kings formed the backbone of their set, but they went as far back as Discouraged Ones to mine material for their performance. In a live setting, songs like “Forsaker, “Teargas,” and “Buildings” arguably best the original studio versions. From Jonas Renske’s gloomy vocals to the thunderous riffs backing him up, Katatonia pulled out of all of the stops in order to put on a bleak yet heavy show. As far as dark metal performances go, these guys are tough to beat. Their sound simply can’t be understated.
Finally, the other co-headliner of the evening took to the stage: the legendary Devin Townsend, and his eponymous Project. But let’s back up a bit; during the stage change, a large projection screen was dropped, and the audience was treated to various photo manipulations of Devin. (Many of which included the infamous Chive photo.) He showed up alongside such luminaries as Batman, Axe Cop, the crew of the Millennium Falcon, 50 Cent, and more. The insanity didn’t stop there, of course. After the slideshow, everyone was entertained by ZTV, a station ostensibly run by Ziltoid the Omniscient. (If you don’t know who that is…for shame. Get thee to Google!) The tyrannical alien commented on various annoying viral videos like Pizza Boomerang and a poodle workout video. Yeah, you read that right. You really need to see it for yourself.
Finally, Devin and friends appeared in person, opening with “Supercrush!” before running through many of his solo albums. Devin’s modern masterpiece Epicloud just came out a few days before the show, but it seemed that everyone in attendance was well-versed in the new songs. (Yes, they played “Lucky Animals.” Are you at all surprised?) Devin and crew played a few unexpected pieces, too, like “War.” Everything was mixed with an impressive light and video show, and punctuated by Devin’s trademark humorous banter and lyric replacement. The man’s got a boatload of songwriting talent, but it clearly hasn’t gone to his head. He’s on stage to make sure everyone’s having a good time, and he’s thanking the crowd profusely. “Grace” was seemingly the show-ender, but Devin himself admitted that it cuts out too quickly. So, the band played a crushing encore in the form of “Bad Devil.” That’s the proper way to top off a show!
You really can’t argue with such an incredibly package of bands and styles on the same bill. The Epic Kings and Idols tour has only just begun, so don’t miss it when it rolls through your town.
Head here for all the dates and stay tuned for our interview with Katatonia!