Thursday night, Opeth, Gojira, and Devin Townsend Project commanded the famed Red Rocks Amphitheatre stage. The landscape and the music complemented one another phenomenally, creating a ridiculous amount of energy that could be felt even from the top row. It was almost as if each band harnessed the energy of the giant rocks surrounding us, taking it into their being and converting it into their individual performances. Describing an experience at Red Rocks is hard as it is something you need to experience for yourself, but as Devin Townsend put it, “I hate the word epic, but it’s hard to describe it any other way”. Live in the moment with these three incredible bands and experience a night full of top-notch metal.
Devin Townsend Project
Hevy Devy and his magical musical troupe took the stage first. The crowd was already rejoicing as “Rejoice” bellowed out, heavy enough to shake the Earth beneath us. Every inch of the venue immediately became submerged by the tangible quality of Devin Townsend Project’s music. Immersive and meteoric, they were already set on lifting our spirits higher, allowing us all to transcend our everyday existence and enter their topsy-turvy world of wonders.
Though Devin Townsend Project are technical, they aren’t calculated, and that gives their set this whimsical and spontaneous quality. Devin Townsend, in particular, unconventionally commentated his own songs–even preparing us for the most exciting moments, like his badass howls and growls–causing smiles and laughs to raise all around the venue. He made his way closer to the front of the crowd, grimacing intensely at first then smiling as he marched along its edge exclaiming exuberantly, “Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!”. That night, we’d enjoy not only the rifftastic and thunderous power of Devin Townsend Project, but also the interesting but wonderful oddities that displayed themselves over the course of their set.
Within this environment, their music seemed to travel beyond the physical realm, especially during songs like “Failure” and “Stormbending”, which take you further down the rabbit hole with eerie snyth parts and meteroic melodies. You’ll find yourself pulled through moments of intensity and subtly within songs like these both on record and in the live setting. Though the music is enough to encapsulate your attention, it is their presence and personality that really draws you in. They make it known that they are extremely thankful of their fans, and you can tell they actually mean it. Technicality may be one of their strong suits as a band, but their authenticity is what sets them apart from others.
Devin Townsend Project always give a performance from the heart, making their set one you don’t want to miss. They didn’t just crush their show Friday night at Red Rocks, they supercrushed it. Check out their magnetic set below.
Gojira’s shows in Europe, especially their festival appearances, always make me green with envy. But Friday night I was anything but green as I witnessed Gojira in full effect unleashing amongst the Red Rocks Amphitheatre stage. Mario emerged first with his drumsticks lifted up into the air. He found his rightful place behind the drums with a menacing smirk as if to say, “Prepare yourselves”, then started drumming that intense intro to “Only Pain”. The remaining members appeared soon after already taken by the atmosphere around them, clearly just as in awe of the moment as those in the crowd were. Many of us have had the pleasure of experiencing Gojira in the live setting before, but not quite like this.
Following their explosive opening, Gojira performed “The Heaviest Matter of the Universe” off their 2005 release, From Mars to Sirius. Amongst a cataclysmic wall of sound, Joe bellowed, “Lie awake, Just cannot move, My arms and legs, I’m paralyzed” and the entire crowd went wild, banging their heads in a heavy metal stupor. It was almost as if Gojira had the entire venue in a trance as they fractured the stage with their wild energy, compelling presence, and wicked, almost inhuman power. Jean-Michel Labadie moved out towards the edge of the stage, lifting his bass towards the night sky. Joe did the same as he confidently walked away from his mic stand, sneering at the crowd as he riffed us all into oblivion along with Christian Andreu.
Every note resonated through your body within songs like “The Heaviest Matter of the Universe”. But, though there’s something so powerful about what Gojira does, there is also something so peaceful about it. This intense-yet-easing feeling could really be felt during “Silvera” and “Stranded”, which followed suit, transporting us all to the present day of Gojira with their acclaimed and profound release, Magma. It was during “Stranded”,where they set the stage, both literally and figuratively, on fire. Vast billows of fire as hot as magma shot up into the sky, warming us all briefly in the chill of the night. For a moment, Gojira disappeared amongst the flames, seemingly engulfed, but appeared again amongst waning flickers of bright red light. The flames may have died down, but the energy in the venue was growing even higher, setting the darkness ablaze with a bright and unwavering light. It was there that we, along with Gojira, would feel connected not only with the Earth around us, but with one another. As Joe called out with a deep-found appreciation, “Thank you for living in the moment with us,” calls of “Merci beaucoup!” raised around me back out towards him.
Though you are mesmerized by the mighty force that is Gojira, your eyes are also drawn to the immaculate, breathtaking graphics at the back of the stage. During “Flying Whales”, a giant whale glided across the screen. With the acoustics of the venue, it felt like you were in the middle of the ocean surrounded by nothing but these majestic creatures, who’s calls are echoing around you. It was an eerie-yet-calming moment that really displayed the venue’s ability to transport you into a song, but also the immersive power of Gojira’s music. In a natural setting, their songs, which are already massive on record, became even larger-than-life. Each individual displayed a deep-found appreciation and humble aura as they performed with passion and fervor. Mario, in particular, showed off his skills as he mastered a lengthy and mind-boggling drum solo. Gojira handle their creations with care and that perhaps is the most amazing thing about what they do.
All good things unfortunately have to come to an end. “Pray” ferociously drove out, bringing a shining close to their set. One last time, we embraced the world along with Gojira. Their performance at Red Rocks not only connected us to one another, but also the Earth as they sang about the heaviest, most important matters of the universe. In the end, it was a sight to behold and an ever-constant reminder that “Everlasting love is ever-growing”.
The musical sorcery continued on as Opeth drifted out onto the stage surrounded by swells of purple fog; Illuminated only by the pure white glow of the “Opeth” screen behind them. The stage was arranged flawlessly, setting the mood for the divine illustrations and manifestations that were about to ensue both on the screen in front of us and in the atmosphere around us. It was just the start of a glowing set that would soon awaken something within us all as we witnessed the lights and sounds dance together in perfect harmony throughout the dark hours.
Opening up the night was “Sorceress”, which addressed us all warmly with that groovy and infectious keyboard opening, ramping up gloriously into a feverish drive along with Mikael Åkerfeldt’s vocals that were reverberating voraciously off the two walls climbing around us. As the song drove through a series of plains and plateaus, we were kicking back and enjoying a show that appeared to be something straight out of a fantasy. Many moments across Opeth’s set would make us question whether what we were experiencing was real or not, but the palpability of the music was undeniable. You weren’t just listening to the song, you were encapsulated by it as every member of Opeth worked together to spin an elaborate song that would very quickly spellbind us all.
“Ghost of Perdition” followed, pulling us out of our “Sorceress” daydream and into the phantasms of our minds. This track, just as unpredictable as Mother Nature herself, took you through moments of peril and beauty. The lights formed shapes on the stage that webbed together like lace. In the background, enchanting images told a story, accompanying the music that inspired them. This was a show that was just as sonically-impressive as it was visually appealing, making it a truly astonishing affair that reached the pinnacle of live performances. Opeth’s mastery of their instruments have made them something of prog legends, but that talent is only further amplified by their mysterious and deeply felt presence.
As far as the setlist goes, they played some songs off their beloved 2016 release, Sorceress, like “The Wilde Flowers”, “Era”, and the aforementioned “Sorceress”, but they also played many songs off their earlier releases, like “Cusp of Eternity”, “The Devil’s Orchard”, “Heir Apparent” and “Deliverance”. With a mountain of releases that have received much applause and praise, Opeth can do no wrong in terms of compiling a setlist, but this outing displayed the evolution of Opeth wonderfully; Allowing both old and new fans to rejoice and giving Opeth a chance to pay respect to the various highlights of their career. It was all of these songs and records that lead us up to this one epic event, where we’d revel in the moment with Opeth, who gave us all something that we’d remember, and talk about, for quite some time.
The night waned to an end as Opeth immaculately performed “Deliverance” with the moon now brightly shining above them. As the curtain closed on a night we’d all assuredly remember vividly tomorrow, another show went down in the famed Red Rocks book of history.
Were you at Opeth’s show at Red Rocks? Share your favorite moments with us in the comments!
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