This was my 12th time seeing Tool live, and they are still amazing. I feel pretty lucky to have had the opportunity to have seen Tool so many times. I was especially lucky this time — in an extremely uncharacteristic move, I mis-handled the tickets, and had to convince Ticketmaster to issue replacements. Luckily, all of those service fees that I have paid over the years have gone to something — when I needed them, there were there for me in a clutch situation.
Past concert reviews:
- Lollapalooza '09: Tool
- Tool live at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, December 11th, 2007
- Tool at the Oakland Arena, September 3rd 2006
- Tool at the Paramount Theatre, Oakland CA
- Coachella 2006: Tool
- All Tool's Past
But enough about the past, let's get on with a review of the latest show.
- (-) Ions
- Stinkfist (included Adam playing keyboard)
- Eon Blue Apocalypse
- The Patient
- Intolerance (with extended bridge)
- Schism (with some keyboards from Adam)
- Forty Six & 2
- Lateralus — During the quiet part, Maynard said "Okay now it's my turn", and then just played a bunch of random stuff on the keyboard that he uses during Vicarious.
Maynard: "In spite of our efforts to fuck it all up, it's all going to work out."
Maynard told another joke here, that alas I didn't write down.
Maynard: "See, it all worked out."
Maynard: "Did you hear here the one about the priest, the rabbi and the preacher on the life raft? It went something like this..." Which immediately lead into the final song:
Personal highlights: "Third Eye" (haven't heard that one in awhile), "Intolerance", and I was surprised by the ferocity of "AEnema" (Maynard especially hit the "dysfunctional actresses" line). But the specialest treat for me was "The Patient". My favorite song off of any given Tool album varies from time to time, and lately this has become my new favorite song off of Lateralus, and they just killed it live.
All in all, I was pretty happy with the setlist, but it was a little surprising. They played 4 songs off of Ænima, 3 songs off of Lateralus, only 2 songs off of their latest album, 10,000 Days. I'm guessing that maybe they got a little burned out on the newer material from recent tours, but I'm still surprised that they went all the way back to Ænima for material. One can only hope that they'll tour next year, and play tons of stuff from Undertow!
In all, Tool played for right around 100 minutes.
Tool's visuals continue to get more and more refined. They are like Apple in that way, practicing continual improvement. Much like their music has gotten more intricate and complex with each successive album (the contrast between "Intolerance" and "Jambi" is particularly apparent), so have the visuals. There were a row of displays behind the band and at the very top of the stage. There were two displays flanking either side of the stage. There were laser lights that could paint patterns on the ceiling. All this, I have seen before. New this time, however, were several banks of lights above the stage, that could change height, and twist and bend. At times, the movement of the lights was actual coordinated with the music. In addition, there were two additional displays, which could change positions, much like the lights. These displays could raise and lower, but they could also pivot. They were also translucent - the lights behind these displays could shine through at times.
In the past, I have felt that there has been too much information to take in at a Tool performance. But now it's totally over the top. I could probably watch this show 3 or 4 times, and not take in everything that is going on. I can't say for certain if there were any new videos playing on the multitude of screens, but my guess is that some improvements have been made there as well.
Maynard was sporting a Mohawk, and I could have sworn that he had on a fake mustache for the first song. Other than that, I didn't detect anything of note. They looked (and sounded) as good as ever.
There were hugh crowd management issues outside he venue. On the way in, the line didn't wrap properly and so there was lots of confusion. It really sucked for the people who did things right — there was all sorts of line cutting. Not due to malicious behavior, but due to poor line management by the venue.
The policies after the show, however, were especially atrocious. The front door of the venue faces a street, and in a vain attempt to keep people from flooding into the street, barriers were setup. But the indented effect didn't align with reality — it just resulted in a huge crush of people that couldn't find their way past the barriers. It was actually more crowded (and more potentially dangerous), than being packed in with the crowd on the main floor during the show. Fortunately, some Tool fans knocked down a few barriers, which allowed us to escape. Security was peeved, but sorry guys, you were wrong.
I have been to this venue before, and I don't remember any problems such as this. Pretty screwy.
Speaking of the crowd, it was really amazing, at least around where I was. They were just as into the old songs as the newer ones. I was pleasantly surprised by the reaction to "Intolerance" in particular — almost everybody knew the words. A much better crowd than the last time that I saw Tool, at Lollapalooza.
All in all, I'm really glad that I went. And I managed to convince the formerly resident music critic to go, so now that he has seen one live Tool show, his life is complete.
And as always, there are more photos on Flickr. On a side note, the iPhone 4 really acquitted itself well. The pictures look pretty good, and I managed to shoot some decent videos too. Tool heavily restricts cameras at their shows, but even they cannot ban phones. Which is pretty good news for me. ;)