Reasons to (not) buy ‘Devin Townsend Presents The Retinal Circus’

5 reasons to buy ‘Devin Townsend Presents The Retinal Circus’:

– Devin Townsend live is always a great experience: his music is unconventional and exciting, Townsend is an amusing frontman and he always has a bunch of wonderful musicians around him, this release is no different.
– There’s a couple of great surprises in the set list; ‘War’, ‘Babysong’, ‘Wild Colonial Boy’ and ‘Planet Smasher’ aren’t set staples for the Canadian freak.
– Between all the good sounding reconstructions of album versions, the acoustic version of ‘Hyperdrive’ is both a pleasant surprise and a beautiful breath of fresh air. It’s one of Townsend’s best songs anyway.
– Not including many songs from the first four Devin Townsend Project albums causes very little doubles between this one and the fantastic ‘By A Thread’ box.
– Last but not least: Jed Simon, ladies and gentlemen. Including him on Strapping Young Lad songs ‘Detox’ and ‘Love?’ is the best thing on this DVD. Seriously.

5 reasons not to buy ‘Devin Townsend Presents The Retinal Circus’:

– Townsend has finally gone TOO far over the top here. His humor always plays a prominent role in his shows, but the actors and circus artists here are really too much. Things like the female cat actors seem little more than cheap, ‘Married With Children’-inspired fan service.
– In addition, the story segments on the DVD, narrated by Steve Vai, are much, much too long. They take a lot of the flow out of the concert and are generally quite tedious. The CD doesn’t really have this problem though.
– This is the first time Townsend’s humor doesn’t accompany the songs, this time his humor takes over the music. It’s a thin line he has always brilliantly danced on, but I think he ended up on the wrong side of it this time.
– Shouldn’t a carreer-spanning show contain at least one song off of ‘Terria’ and ‘Accellerated Evolution’? Respectively ‘Earth Day’ and ‘Deadhead’ would get my vote. Or ‘Deep Peace’ and ‘Depth Charge’…
– Whereas ‘By A Thread’ contained a few of the songs’ definitive performances, this one is relatively weak performance-wise. The high Townsend standard is still intact, but we’ve definitely heard the band better.

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