The Time I Cried At A Devin Townsend Show

by - September 22, 2022

Photo courtesy of Dana Gorab

I’m thinking I should re-title this article to “The Time I Bawled Like A Little Bitch At A Devin Townsend Show” because that might be closer to what actually happened.

I’ve always been very vocal about my love of Devin Townsend. As a musician, he is easily the one that influenced me the most since I discovered his music circa 2013. Since then, he has also helped provide the soundtrack to my life; his music has seen me go in and out of borderline abusive relationships, touring the UK with my band Novacrow, couch-surfing due to homelessness, and almost every other experience I’ve had. I have seen him at every opportunity I’ve had, even flying to Bulgaria to catch his set at an ancient roman amphitheatre!

On this occasion, however, I bawled like a schoolgirl mid-set. Tears of joy, mind you, but tears nevertheless. It was during his headline performance at Bloodstock Open Air 2021, specifically during the song “Spirits Will Collide”. Let’s take a look at what led up to that moment (insert dreamy glissando and wavy transition) …

That’s right, Bloodstock Open Air was one of the first major festivals to re-open after the COVID pandemic! Most international bands were still hesitant to tour or simply couldn’t get the paperwork in time, but fortunately Devin was not one of them. As a big fan of the guy, I had been following him throughout the past year and a half and he was clearly having a rough time with the pandemic situation. And he obviously wasn’t alone - regardless of your stance on the pandemic/lockdowns, the whole situation was rough on an awful lot of people.

Whilst I personally enjoyed the time off and found the first few months very peaceful and good for my mental health, it eventually started triggering anxious episodes that I had never really experienced before and it just started getting worse from there. So when the festival came round, I think most people were excited to just be getting away from things for a few days and pretend things were back to normal for a weekend.

That said, when Devin hit the stage I was several drinks in and SUPER excited for it. He didn’t have his usual band, so the whole stage show and sound was very stripped back, which gave the whole headline show a bit of a more intimate feel in some ways. He went through his usual set, and for me it was the first time I got to hear him play some Strapping Young Lad songs (songs from his metal band that he’s been saying since 2007 he would never play again) so already emotions were high. Once “Deadhead” started playing (a slow burning, eight-minute, epic love song), I could feel the emotional tension rising as everyone was just so dang happy to be there, listening to this hugely inspirational man scream his lungs out about how much he loves his wife.

Eventually he started riffing an intro for “Spirits Will Collide” whilst talking about the whole previous year. Given the strong and uplifting anti-suicide theme to the whole song, I knew he was going to pull all the strings out for this little ditty. He invited a crowd of people onto the stage, along with a giant gorilla and elephant to parade around the stage as he started belting out the lyrics. I was just as happy as a clam, gleefully singing along until the sudden reconciliation of my own struggles with mental health, what this previous year meant to the world, the uplifting message of the song in question, and the fact that I have had such a fun time away from the everyday tribulations of life, all hit me at once and I started crying. And clearly I wasn’t the only one who had these thoughts as people all around the crowd were also crying. The rest of the set went on and it felt like a magical afterglow - everyone was just so damn happy to be there; Devin himself also seemed so excited to be on that stage. It was just a wonderful performance for everyone involved. 10/10, would cry again.

- Freddy Spera, bassist for Novacrow

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