Monday, June 11, 2007

Concert Review: Tool - First Mariner Arena, Baltimore, MD: June 8, 2007

Maynard James Keenan - Tool

Any Given Tuesday last caught Tool at theVerizon Center in DC back in September (read the review here). Just as that show was flawless, thus was the case here. And the overall effect of the show was the same, too. The band played plenty of tracks from 10,000 Days, such as "Jambi", "Wings From Marie Parts 1 & 2", and the show closer, "Vicarious", dedicated in a timely manner to Paris Hilton, as was "Stinkfist" earlier in the show.

The show opener, Melt Banana, is a Japanese speed metal band with some electronic noise crossover. As is becoming AGT's trend, we missed the better part of their set and, from what we did hear, the point, too.

Tool entered the stage to much applause, Maynard in a hunter's orange Puscifer (a side project for Keenan) hoodie and cowboy hat, with the same mohawk as the last tour. As Tool's set progressed, the overlap from the arena tour became even more obvious. The positioning of the band on the stage was identical to the arena tour, as was the majority of the set list. The standout track was "Flood" from Undertow, mainly because it is a bit of a rarity at Tool shows (and where is "Swamp Song"? Can't we hear that one live?).

It is such a pleasure from a technical viewpoint to watch Tool play live. Almost entirely avoiding any interaction with the crowd (except last night for thanking fans for not using their flash photography and making a couple Paris jokes) during the performance, I was transfixed on Adam Jones, Justin Chancellor, and Danny Carey as they expertly did their jobs. Adam and Danny look detached, playing guitar and drums better than almost anyone else I've had the pleasure of seeing live seemingly without effort. Whether their detached look shows because they are lost in their art or collecting a paycheck at this point is hard to say. Only Justin looks like he's really getting into his playing, even doing a little headbanging at times (so remarkably un-Tool, apparently).

The crowd at this particular show was largely a disappointment (at least from where I was standing). Other than one pretty mellow hipster who was giving us a good vibe, we were surrounded by colossal meatheads who commenced to pour their beer on their face like water, before spraying mouthfuls into the air, and girls who danced to metal songs like it was a Grateful Dead show, gyrating and bouncing like Jerry Garcia had just reincarnated into Maynard James Keenan. Can't make this stuff up, folks. I have never been to another concert where people behave so ridiculously, not even Ozzfest.

All that aside, another great performance by the band. Nothing surprising, though, as all the same tricks were repeated from the last tour, including Maynard's slithering profile pulsating to the beat and the point two-third into the show where the band takes a break and commands the crowd to put up their lighters. If you missed the arena tour, check this tour out. It's a few bucks cheaper, and smaller venues. That's a deal.

Tool plays Bonnaroo next weekend. Hippie kids beware, and hold tightly to your beer. Bonnaroo may have never seen a circle pit before.

Setlist for the show:

Forty-Six & 2
Rosetta Stoned
Wings 1+2


Anonymous said...

"detached look because they are collecting a paycheck"????? How many times have you seen Tool if you think this is the case? Adam has always performed live in this way, as well as Danny, who despite his bicep gave his mightiest performance yet on this tour. I doubt Tool has ever done anything they've done for the money (except for all the t- shirts they have, although it's the company that pushes those, not the dudes) They are most definitely lost in the music. And I swear to God that Justin looks like he's trippin balls everytime I've seen him live. Tool is the Jewish Messiah. They have finally come to save the world

Sock said...

Enjoyed as much as I could for it being my first TOOL show. I agree with you about the audience. Having GA tickets I expected a fair share of moshy idiots but less than 2 songs into the set I was tossed a good 20 feet from my starting position.

My friend and I retreated towards the back of the floor where a steady stream of alcoholics flowed in and out from behind the folding stands at the end of the arena. After a few more songs I moved back into the crowd, surrounded by other more relaxed individuals except a few who liked to make their presence known by heckling during the most soothing songs. I closed my eyes and focused on the music, what I had come there for.

Despite my usual anti-social reaction to the crowd I was pleased with the overall performance. Melt Banana was interesting, yet enjoyable and did not get the respect they deserved. Meatheads is definitely the best term to describe the audience though. Towards the end two very large older men with long stringy hair emerged from the crowd, one was topless and looked as if he had been kicked in the head a few times, both were covered in beer and sweat.