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(162:06, Inside Out Music)
I have been a fan of the manic Canuck for more than 20 years, still cherish my fully-signed copy of Strapping Young Lad’s ‘Alien’ and wouldn’t leave home without a copy of the ‘Retinal Circus’ video loaded onto my phone as one never knows when the urge to watch again will strike. I didn’t hear his debut ‘Ocean Machine’ when it was released but did pick up on his next album ‘Infinity’ and from there on in was a solid fan. He has a way of creating a wall of sound which no-one else has managed in the modern era, and I grabbed the opportunity when he finally decided to play New Zealand (hey guys, you don’t all have to just play the States and Europe you know, we do appreciate it when you get down here as well). He was also playing in my favourite venue (Power Station, which is incredibly reminiscent in many way of the long-lost Marquee), so it was with heavy heart when I left before the end as it was just so, um, boring. Here we find a long set (triple CD) which includes the whole of his debut ‘Ocean Machine’ from 1997, along with plenty of other material. As well as the band we are treated to the Orchestra and Choir of Plovdiv State Opera who join in for the first two CDs, but it all feels rather flat. Take opener “Truth” which also appears on ‘Retinal Circus’: it isn’t that Devin is just going through the motions, but where is the bounce and joie de vivre so evident on the earlier live release? Surely it can’t just be that Anneke wasn’t involved in this? When Devin is on form, having fun, and with the right support around him then he is in a league all his own as his vision and endless musical creativity just lifts him far away from everywhere else. But this could never be an album to introduce a listener to his music, as the spark isn’t there. I am sure there are many fans who will buy this, listen to it a few times, then put it back on the shelf and instead turn to the much loved and battered version of ‘Retinal Circus’ instead. With heavy heart I have to say I can’t imagine playing it again.
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