CASUALTIES OF TOOL – Finland – Helsinki – Savoy Theater
I was quickly sold to the simplicity, elegance and grooviness of Devin’s ‘Casualties of Cool’ 2014 release. I basically just fell in love with Ché Aimee Dorval’s voice and all the beautifully blended instruments and noises, nothing too extreme in any direction, but just perfectly joined to create a cozy atmosphere and an album that revealed another one of Devin’s creative sides – and he seems to have an unlimited number of those.
After finding out that the album took actually 4 years to complete, its beauty made even more sense. I guess its main ingredient was passion and, at least for my ears, that passion is obvious in all of the tracks. I never even dreamt of hearing/watching Casualties of Cool live, so I can hardly describe the sadness when it first it only got announced for London and in the middle of the week. But the second I spotted the announcement for Casualties of Cool to be played live in Helsinki, on a Saturday, I bought tickets of all kinds almost immediately and just started dreaming of the actual evening.
From the very beginning I must say that I probably lack the words and especially the superlatives to describe the magic of the evening. Taking place in a regular theater hall, it was a curious feeling to be surrounded by metal heads, yet everyone kept so extremely quiet and there was no beer to be served in front of the stage, no big speakers, no fence…just rows of chairs and a lot of silence. Silence abruptly broken by loud applauses when we spotted Devin & co walking towards their instruments and getting ready to begin the show.
Before any music started, we were warned that there’d be limited amount of talking due too many words said during a previous show and so we should just figure out whenever it’s appropriate to applaud in between songs. It worked quite well – with one or two exceptions – and it actually improved the flow of the whole event, as the musicians prepared some extra passages/song intros, different from the album, yet suited in the live context to connect the melodies. Another thing worth mentioning is that Devin took the time to present every person on stage. The lovely Ché on vocals, Morgan Ågren on drums, Mike St-Jean on additional drums and percussion, Dave Young on keyboards on frog responsible, Brian Wadell on bass and, unfortunately, I totally missed the name of the guy who played the additional acoustic guitar. But the whole group had a fantastic chemistry that enhanced the quality of the music and of the whole experience. And for me, the hero of the evening was Morgan Ågren on drums who stubbornly kept those simple, yet insane grooves with metronome precision and who was responsible for me not being able to stand still on my chair.
The actual intro got me a bit confused and scared that the performance would be way too far off the original sound. Yet, when the ‘Daddy’ rhythms started to surface from the intro, I began dancing in the chair and probably annoying my neighbors. I apologise for that, but it was beyond my power to control it.
The show had no particular light show, except some constant blue/white lights that wouldn’t dance around or anything. As a photographer, that might have been really annoying. As regular audience, that was perfect, since it didn’t offer any bit of distraction from the actual main actor of the show: the music. There were some occasional distractions, mainly in the shape of Devin’s funny faces of his guitar solos, but other than that the cool dream was constantly built around Ché’s soothing voice and pleasant stage appearance, Devin’s guitar godness and lovely background singing or the two voices joined together to sing loudly some very intense passages. A personal highlight was the song ‘Flight’ in which I couldn’t stop the tears from falling down. It was that touching!
I don’t remember exactly which other songs were performed, besides the ones on the main disc of Casualties of Cool. I actually don’t even remember which songs were performed. The memory is more of a whole evening full of feeling and perfection. And it ended in style. As soon as the last bow was offered to the crowd and the artists left the stage, we decided we’d clap until we bleed. Or until they return on stage, despite the fact that the organizers turned on the lights and the music. But Devin&co had no choice and returned, only to announce us that they haven’t prepared any encore. But we got an even better offer: Devin (and I think Ché as well, but it was impossible to see in that sea of tall Finns) stepped down from the stage and spent time with the audience. I still wonder how long were they actually stayed there, but I believe the gesture was so much more rewarding. Thumbs up for it!
Ziltoid 2 is the current news and focus from Devin’s side, and hopefully there’ll be more projects coming from the talented Canadian. But I do hope that the Casualties of Cool will not be forgotten and will maybe turn into other exciting experiences for more and more people. And for me, at least once more!
PS: I attach just one photo taken with the mobile phone. Sorry about that, I didn’t have the chance to hunt for better quality photos and get approval to publish them. If they turn out on the web, enjoy them. And enjoy if you find any live footage of the show.