Devin Townsend has shared a new live video performance of his song “Why,” which had appeared on his 2019 album, Empath. The live video release comes from Townsend’s upcoming Order Of Magnitude – Empath Live Volume 1, which will feature a number of performances from Townsend’s Empath tour. The live performance of “Why” also features Che Aimee Dorval on backup vocals. Order Of Magnitude – Empath Live Volume 1 will be released at the end of this month, on October 23.
“So once upon a time, in a land not much different than the one we’re living in now, there used to be things called ‘concerts’ where a bunch of human beings would assemble to watch awkward performances and get shitfaced on overpriced beer,” Townsend said in the video description on Youtube. “Tour managers would solve problems while simultaneously hitting on women, and musicians would complain about not being home (until getting home, where they would then complain about not being on tour). During one of these ‘tours,’ I myself assembled 10 brilliant people, confident enough to play challenging material, while simultaneously acting like goofs with me onstage.”
The song begins with eclectic pianos and strings, the visuals dancing behind the band as they take stage. A trio of backup singers in dresses sway together, with Townsend finally taking the stage as he dons a long black tulle skirt. He belts as he dances onstage, the backup vocalists harmonizing in a magical and peaceful tune. The crowd waves their arms back and forth as the peaceful song abruptly stops, Townsend soon commanding the crowd to jump up and down and put their hands on their heads. He resumes the track, continuing to sing in a Disney-like tune.
“Kudos to Diego for being able to pull off a full symphony with only 4 limbs, and the rest of the band for not batting an eye when I presented the ideas I had for this show,” Townsend said in the video’s Youtube description. “Che, Samantha, Anne and Arabella came to me and said ‘look, if we have to wear this stuff, you have to as well…’ so my Tutu was a show of solidarity with band members, but as the saying goes ‘I’ve seen better legs hanging out of a nest.’ I look forward to a time where we get to do this again; but if that’s not meant to be, I loved this, so thanks to everyone involved.”
The live version of the performance keeps with the symphonic tone of Townsend’s “Why” as the track takes on a moving tone. Townsend’s vocals dance, the flowing track swaying as the background vocals pluck through the air. Townsend’s live performance of the track doesn’t delve into the deep vocals that occasionally pierce through the studio version, with Townsend instead turning to the crowd and asking them if they’re excited for a metal show.
While “Why” musically sounds as if it were a sweet ballad, with Townsend’s vocals dancing in a similar style to what is found in classic Disney movies, the song’s lyrics depict the opposite as they describe a fear of the world. “Darling are you feeling alright? You look rather pale/And all our friends are, all our friends are watching us/(I wanna go home).” Townsend explores a failing faith, questioning whether or not he is alive.
Order Of Magnitude – Empath Live Volume 1 was recorded during Townsend’s London performance last December, during his fall 2019 tour in support of Empath. Later volumes of his tour had been cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with Townsend initially planning for the tour to have three volumes.
Townsend has kept busy despite the ongoing pandemic, with an ambient album planned for release sometime this week. Over the course of this pandemic, Townsend has released a number of ambient albums, with the upcoming album set to be his fourth in the past few months. Townsend has also created a new podcast series, called the “Devin Townsend Podcast,” where he discusses the recording process and inspiration behind each of his albums. He has also held a number of live stream performances, with his next scheduled for the end of this month.
Photo credit: Raymond Flotat