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Devin Townsend / Fear Factory / Tesseract http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/48/2e/fd/Devin-Townsend-Fear-Factory-Live-Review-Rocktopia-Thumb-21-1389393821.jpg Hot

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Devin Townsend / Fear Factory / Tesseract - The Ritz, Manchester (UK) - 15th December 2012

There's no better feeling than knowing you're going to have the greatest night of the year. With three immense bands on the bill at the Ritz in Manchester, I'd been waiting for this gig for months. TesseracT stamped their own brand of British prog-metal onto the night from the first note – new singer Ashe's voice was powerful, haunting and more than proved that this incarnation of the band is ready to take on the world. They had the audience totally enthralled and left the stage to huge chants of TESS-ER-ACT! Warming up a crowd as diverse as this one was is never an easy task, but they pulled it off with aplomb.

Industrial legends Fear Factory took to the stage next. From the opening strains of 'The Industrialist' they had me totally hooked. Tight, heavy and brutal, they brought everything that you'd expect from such a legendary band, and more. With a huge mix of songs from all eras, set highlights for me had to be 'Edgecrusher', 'Recharger' and 'Replica' and I have no doubt that fans of every age of Fear Factory left satisfied. They didn't let up once throughout the whole set; each song was better than the last and there wasn't a single dull moment. Burton's voice more than did the melodic stuff justice and watching Dino tearing from riff to riff was hypnotic. I was totally blown away by them and, from the looks of the audience, I wasn't the only one! Each song had the audience going mad, circle pits were starting up constantly throughout the set and the Ritz was just heaving under the weight of every person in the place headbanging as though their lives depended on it. I was absolutely gutted when they finished – it was a set to be more than proud of and one that I'm not going to forget for a long time!

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Finally, the man himself was up – and ohhh, what a set! Words can't adequately describe just how good he was, but I'm going to give it a go – sadly, I think I'll run out of superlatives before I'm finished! He has the most exceptional stage presence and charisma I've ever seen and the second 'Supercrush' started, the audience was going wild. He has the most incredible effect on audiences – managing to get the metal crowd who'd previously been headbanging wildly to Fear Factory all doing synchronised jazz hands during 'Lucky Animals' – an utter joy to behold and a testament to his enormous skill as a performer. The setlist was perfect. From the obscenely catchy 'War' from the 'Infinity' album to the stunning 'Where We Belong', every song was played to perfection. The drumming from Ryan throughout was simply sublime – it's so easy to give credit solely to Devin due to his sheer force, but the whole band are such a tight unit and recognition has to go to each and every one of them for what was, in my opinion, the best gig of the year.

There wasn't a weak moment in the set – from the spine tingling brilliance of 'Liberation' to the hauntingly beautiful 'Save Our Now', to the absolutely incredible 'Grace', which brought a tear to my eyes – each song, each note and each chord were performed with such feeling, such love and such utter passion that it was impossible not to be totally enchanted. When they finished the night with the always fantastic 'Bad Devil', I left the Ritz knowing that I'd witnessed what I'm pretty sure is so far the highlight of my gigging days.

Felicity Hall

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