Ki, Addicted, Deconstruction and Ghost are represented in this box set. Each album gets its own show, and each show has its own unique mood. The Addicted show is a giant party, while Ghost is subdued and washed in a reflective atmosphere. Whether Townsend is growling about cheeseburgers or crooning about blackberry vines, he is in his element. Few musicians can go from extreme heaviness to calming levity with the ease that Townsend pulls off on these four shows.
Townsend brought in guest musicians left and right on these four albums, which would make recreating them live a struggle. He does what he can to make these shows as close to the studio recordings as possible, bringing in the original studio musicians to play with him live. Townsend obtains the services of vocalist Anneke van Giersbergen for the Addicted show and drummer Dirk Verbeuren to pound away on Deconstruction.
Having Giersbergen involved makes the Addicted show the best one on this box set. Her voice sounds even better than it did on the studio tracks. Deconstruction is the weakest show, as the bombastic nature the orchestra and choir gave to the album is hard to translate live. Townsend gives it his all though, which is the reoccurring theme to these shows. His stage banter is witty, self-deprecating, and aware of how rough some of these songs turn out, yet he always has a smile on his face.
The extras are slim, each disc including a photo slide show, a music video of one of the songs, and Townsend’s dry commentary. The Ghost disc has a few added extras that range in quality. A short featurette on the preparations that went into setting up for the Ghost shows is drab and plain. A 20-plus minute interview with Townsend conducted at the end of all four shows is insightful, and gets into the mind of Townsend after attempting such a feat.
The Devin Townsend Project is Townsend’s baby, arguably unleashing the most compelling and creative work of his career. Hearing and seeing him up on stage performing these songs for a ravenous audience shows how much of himself he put into each of the albums. Townsend is having the time of his life, always bubbly and grateful for the support, which shows on these DVDs/CDs. By A Thread: Live In London 2011 is a required purchase for anyone who loves to gush about Townsend.
(released June 19, 2012 on Heavydevy Records)