Tuesday, December 8, 2015
Live Blu-ray review: Ziltoid Live At The Royal Albert Hall
In my mind, there are only two good reasons to record a live show. Either it has to be a band's last ever show, or it has to be a show that is with all certainty never going to happen again in a million years. Devin Townsend's "Ziltoid Live At The Royal Albert Hall" is one such show. Devin and his companions in the DTP put together a grand spectacle in London this previous spring, a 2 part show were the band did the entire "Dark Matters" record from "Z²" and a "By Request" set. Even if I think this was a cool idea, I was pissed that London got the glory for this type of show from the Canadian mastermind for the second time in 2 years (He performed "The Retinal Circus" there in 2014). But my love for Devin (and Ziltoid) did overtake the disappointment, and I could only wait for the show to be released on video.
As expected from the Jim Carrey of metal, Devin delivers a fun, goofy, and energetic show in the first half. Not only is the band playing the whole "Dark Matters" album from start to finish, but they are doing so while there is a full theater act going on among the band members. We get to witness a full choir with Ziltoid capes, a massive Poozer, and of course, the main characters of the story, Ziltoid, the War Princess (played by Dominique Lenore Persi), and Captai... wait, where's Captain Spectacular? Turns out, Chris Jerricho could not be on the show, which means we only get pre recorded video shorts from his role. Frankly, I could not care less. Jerricho is a mediocre entertainer, and his over the top acting on those shorts were atrocious.
The best thing about this set list though is the videos that are played in the back ground, giving another dimension to the visualization of the album. Devin has always been keen on giving the audience a full experience, both for ears and eyes, and he certainly does that. Whether you feel like you are flying in warp speed in "Ziltoid Goes Home" or getting crushed by walking machines in "March of The Poozers", you do get engulfed in the show, even if you sit on the sofa. Man, I can only imagine how it would feel like to be a part of the audience.
Speaking of the audience, they do bring yet another dimension to this spectacle, not only with their cheers, applauds, and their collective Karaoke power in "Dimension Z", but in ways that you will probably only encounter in a Devin Townsend show. I cannot count how many people held their Ziltoid puppets up in the air during this set, and then there are those who are as goofy as Devin. For example, there are two people at the front of the pack wearing Stitch and Pikachu Onepiece's. Complete insanity.
On to set 2, which is a set filled with songs that was requested by the fans. Looking at this 13 song set list, I am super pleased with a lot of these choices, especially the duo "Bastard" and "The Death of Music" from the amazing "Ocean Machine: Biomech". Those two tracks are some of my favourite songs ever by Devin, and to finally see them being performed live makes me grin from ear to ear. Other fine choices includes "Namaste", "Earth Day", and "Kingdom".
However, while I think the "By Request" set is overall really good, there are some songs that makes me scratch my head. First off, "Lucky Animals"... really? You get to choose over 20 years of music and you pick this? Oh well, it is goofy, so I can dig it. Second, I dislike the fact that "Deconstruction" is completely left out here. I would have loved to see them perform "The Mighty Masturbator" (with a short guest appearance from Ziltoid of course). Third, I do not know if this was intentional, but I find it hard to believe that none of the original Ziltoid songs were not among the top. I guess Devin filled his Ziltoid quota in the first set. But it is just like Devin says himself, the two sets are just like "Z²", two sides of the same coin. We have the goofy, fun, theatrical side, and the more professional (but still sort of goofy) side of DTP.
Since I am pretty unfamiliar with Blu-ray, I cannot really compare this disc with others, but I will say this, the quality is crisp, and the sound is freaking awesome. This is definitely a release in which you should experience with a surround sound, blasting at 11. Besides from the show itself, we got some extras as well, such as all three Ziltoid TV episodes, the music video for "March of The Poozers", a time lapse of the stage build in Royal Albert Hall, and a documentary in which Devin explains the world of Ziltoid. Well, actually it is more Devin talking about his career, touring and the Royal Albert Hall show... oh, and Ziltoid of course. There is something with Devin's speaking voice and his choice of words that is hypnotizing and intriguing. I could seriously listen to him talk for hours (but just like everyone else, I would rather hear him sing :) ).
Even if it is not much, the extra material does keep you entertained for another half hour, and it also gives the viewer a chance to wind down after a show that had everything and more. Devin is a man who knows how to create a spectacle that is unique, crazy, and corny, and he keeps finding ways to get the fans involved in his works, showing that he really loves his fans. There are only small things that I can complain on, but as a fan of Devin, and as a fan of Ziltoid, I am as happy as a Ziltoidian child in a Starbucks. A must own for all fans of fun music.
Best: "Bastard" and "The Death of Music"
Worst: Next time, make Sweden the location
Rating: 9,5/10 Ultimate coffee beans
Set 1 - Dark Matters
2. From Sleep Awake
3. Ziltoidian Empire
4. War Princess
6. March of The Poozers
7. Wandering Eye
9. Ziltoid Goes Home
10. Through The Wormhole
11. Dimension Z
Set 2 - By Request
4. Earth Day
8. Lucky Animals
12. The Death of Music
13. Universal Flame