After spending over an hour typing my 10,000 Days album review last night, I'm gonna try to go easy with this one
My journey leading to my arrival in Oakland was a long and strenuous one. Of course, I don't literally mean physically getting there, as my dad and I made record time across the Bay Bridge to arrive at the show roughly a half hour early. No, my journey starts a couple of Saturdays ago, sitting at this very computer on which I am typing right now, and waiting for tickets to go on sale for my most anticipated show of the year. It's Tool; it's a small, beautiful venue; it's a couple weeks away only......these were some of my thoughts blended frantically together as I waited for 10 AM to come. Alas, me and thousands of my brothers and sisters joined together by the bonds of Tool were royally fucked over by TicketBitchAssCockSuckingRapistMotherfucker and the scalpers. I was in such a shock that day that I it was almost paralyzing. Needless to say, I was completely crushed.
From the first hour after tickets were gone I started looking for them on Ebay and Craigslist. I told myself "No way in hell I am gonna miss this". With only a week before the show left I found a reasonably priced pair on Ebay and placed my bid. I was the winning bidder until 1 MINUTE LEFT, when some clever asswipe once more robbed me and placed a last second bid to take the auction. At that point my mind was in such disarry that when literally seconds later I suddenly spotted a pair of seats in a better location for less $$$ available under the "Buy Now" tag, it didn't hit me that I had actually bought the tickets and was going to the show. In fact, I still didn't believe it fully until I got the tickets in my hand from the mail on Tuesday, and was still apprehensive up 'till the moment we arrived at the Paramount on a crisp Thursday evening. Right then, however, it hit me......I am seeing fucking Tool tonight.
Upon arrival, we walked in past the sea of people in line at the box office in hopes of scoring some extra tix (I later found out that they did have some available) and got in line to enter the building. This is where I encountered one of the biggest asswipes I have ever seen at a concert thus far. Obviously the dude was drunk off his ass, but rude is rude, and he started making fun of all the people waiting in line (he was off to the side of us) saying that all he had to do was talk to the manager of the Paramount and he's got 4 tickets without lifting a finger. He then started to hammer some guys wearing Coachella shirts, asking them "if [they] enjoyed the 8 hour drive and 100 degree weather?" I mean, what a fucking asshole. People practically sold their soul to go to this show, and rubbing it on our faces about he could get as many as he wanted without paying a cent because he had connections just infuriated me. I would have had some choice words for him, but I was with my dad and didn't want anything bad to happen, so I let it go.
Anyhow, we walked into the venue at around 7:15, and immediately I knew it would live up to my lofty expectations and from what I had heard about it. We are talking top-of-the-line here; beautiful interior design, awesome paintings and carvings on the wall, and of course, ushers decked out in fancy suits ecorting people to their seats and being very courteous
It was quite a different experience, but certainly a welcome one. We waited in line at the merch stand for a bit, where I dropped $90 worth on 2 tour shirts and a massive poster that looks incredible. I'd love to post pics sometime. After that, we walked to our seats and waited for the band to come on. And waited. And waited. These guys didn't play the night before, no opener, they had all day to set up if they wanted, and it still starts 20 minutes late. Go figure
That said, these are still warm-up shows, and only their 3 one since 2002, so they really wanted everything to be perfect. Since it had no hinderance on the length of their set I can forgive it though, and it only added to the suspense and allowed to converse with my dad some more. Finally, at 7:50, the lights went down, followed by the loudest crowd welcoming I have ever heard. Pot smoke fills the air, everybody stands up, Justin walks casually on stage...........the time has come.
The stage set for this tour is on a much smaller scale than when I saw them on the Lateralus tour, which is to be expected from doing a small intimate venue setting tour (the Paramount holds approx. 3,000 people). They had several screens set up in the back of the stage, with Danny's kit in the middle/back, Justin on the right, and Adam on the left. Without any intro of any kind, Justin came on stage first, followed by Adam, who launched into the opening of "Lost Keys" from the new album. The place literally shook with the combination of people screaming and the music; even with such a mixed crowd that Tool has (nerds, middle-aged men, metalheads, moms, stoners, etc.) their fans are still loud as any. The sound quality was as brilliant as advertised, definitely the best sounding show I've ever been to. Clear, crisp, defined, everything was perfect. I could complain that maybe it could have been just a teeny-bit louder, but that would have sacrificed the impeccable sound quality. There isn't a bad seat in the house either, as we were on the left hand side of the balcony and could hear/see everything absolutely perfectly. Anyways, after Adam plays the intro over and over while some feedback and other ambiance immerses the entire hall, Danny comes out behind the kit with Maynard entering on the riser to the left. This should make Allan happy; Danny was decked out in a Kobe Bryant shirt
Maybe not coincidentally, the Lakers played the Phoenix Suns that night in game 6 of their playoff series. However, not to be outdone, Maynard struts out bare-chested in blue jeans, boots, and a cowboy hat
Yes, he is indeed a savage.
Finally the band all together kick into the logical follower to "Lost Keys", the psycho-epic "Rosetta Stoned". Maynard busts out his megaphone, and I was positive the sound would be muffled, but it was almost exactly like on the album! Not a song many would pick as an opener, but it was totally asskicking and fit perfectly into the more "chilled-out" and personal theme of the show. This was further proven by Maynard's unusually talkative self in-between songs. Some of his quotes from the night:
(before The Pot) "Thank you very much. Thoses were some songs.... and coming up next... some more songs."
(before Schism) "I wanted to BBQ tonight, but someone stole my grill. So I grabbed a cop, I was like, hey man, you should write something down or something. Then I turned around and someone stole the cop. Rough fuckin town. They also stole the meaning to this next song."
(before Forty-six And 2) "Oakland. I'm not from, but I'm familiar, with Oakland. It's like San Francisco, only better. That's just me trying to win you over. I don't know what I'm talking about, don't listen to me."
(before Jambi) "Pee Wee's Playhouse is always nice." *In Seattle he introduced this song as "Tool are cocksuckers"
Shove that up your asses, people who think Tool takes themselves too seriously
The whole feeling of the show was very relaxed, completely opposite to last time I saw them when it was a massive production and the band seemed very uptight. This show seem less "scripted" and seemed to flow more loosely. Everyone looked like they were enjoying themselves, although Adam looked pretty serious the whole time until the end when they came out together in front of the stage ala Maiden. He was also the only one who made noticeable fuck-ups. He screwed up part of the intro to Eon Blue Apocalypse, as well as the intro to Lateralus. Otherwise the band's performance was flawless, Maynard sounding as good as he ever has. He was pretty much just grooving to the songs from his perch on the stage, he isn't one of those guys who moves around a lot, but he still has got a major stage prescence. And his mohawk is fucking sweet
Justin did an incredible job on the bass as usual; did you guys know he plays a FRETLESS BASS!?
The dude is a monster, along with his rhythm companion, the incomparable Danny Carey. You could sit glued to you seat all night watching him play. It's almost impossible to take your eyes off him! That night, he solidified his position as the best drummer I've ever seen/heard.
As far as individual songs, they played played the same setlist as the Seattle show, which was the same as Coachella except that they added Lost Keys/Rosetta Stoned. During the songs that featured music videos they had them going in the background, otherwise the screens would have some cool visuals going as they played, along with the lights show that was definitely toned-down but still very effective and cool. This is their setlist:
1.) Lost Keys / Rosetta Stoned
3.) Forty-six & 2
4.) The Pot
7.) Eon Blue Apocolypse / The Patient
The duration of the set was 90 minutes, as opposed to the 2 hours they did when I say them in '02. This was to be expected however, as it's being advertised only as a "warm-up tour" for their big arena/festival appearances in Europe coming up this summer. The highlights of the set for me were the new songs. Everyone one of them just knocked me on my ass. Jambi was just pure bliss, and Adam nailed the talkbox solo. They had some blue lights going during it, along with some more sick visuals on the screen, it was a particularly ethereal experience. The guy in front of me offered me a doobie, but I said no thanks
They were lighting up the entire time, and now whenever I hear Jambi especially for some reason I catch that faint scent from somewhere. Really amazing, every song was incredible. Lateralus, my favorite Tool song ever, was another treat. During the heavy part of the last couple minutes I went totally apeshit, so much that I nearly missed seeing Danny bust out one of the greatest drum fills I've heard/seen. After the "Whatever will bewilder me..." part he just goes all around the kit nailing every tom and finishing with a massive gong hit behind him. UN-FUCKING-REAL. He also hit a few electronic toms during The Patient that reverberated through the whole place and literally shook my chest, it was so deep. His drumwork was enough to legitimize the obscene amount of money I spent on this show. But of course, Justin's bass ownage in The Pot, Schism, and every other song was so moving and inspiring. He and Danny are 2 of my favorite musicians in the world; you know when after you see a movie sometimes, like 'Rocky' and you come out of the theater wanting to kick somebody's ass, you walk out of a Tool show wanting to go play drums. Even if you aren't a Tool fan, their rhythm section is so incredibly strong that you can just lock into it the whole time and groove, similar to what Pavo experienced with Amorphis. For this alone (plus the amazing visuals) I would recommend a Tool show to anybody.
From the sheer heaviness of Stinkfist, the epic bliss of Vicarious, the pouding rhythms of Forty-six & 2, the massive feedback intro to Sober, everything was nailed to a tee. I was kinda hoping that they would bring out another new song for this show, and I could have sworn that before they went into Eon Blue Apocalypse I heard the beginning of Intension, which would have made further sense because before they went on they had some electronica stuff (perhaps the new Zombi?) going over the PA. Alas, however, they did not pull anything new out. Before the show I was secretly hoping for Wings For Marie/10,000 Days, but as soon as I saw Maynard come out bare-chested and in a cowboy hat I knew that there was a fatter chance of hell freezing over than Tool playing that. However, when (if?
) it gets played live, that will be a sight to see. But I cannot complain; this show was outfuckingstanding in every way, and I left with that famous shit-faced grin all over my face. Tough to rank the show against other ones I've seen, but it is comparable with Bone Bash last year and, even......DOD '04. Not quite that, but you can bet your ass that if anyone will ever beat that night, Tool would be the one to do it. When they return for the arena tour this fall (and they should, they played the Bay Area 3 times on the Lateralus tour after all), you can be sure of 3 things:
1.) I will be waiting at the Ticketmaster outlet an hour before tix go on sale
2.) I will be at every one of the shows they do here
3.) I will be spamming the board with twice the Tool propaganda as I have this past week