A Review of the Fall 1996 Tour

Date: November 18

From: Steven Paul Bekkala (sbekkala@umich.edu) Subject: Tool - 11/18/96 Cleveland show review & setlist Last night, me and a friend made the three hour drive from here (in Michigan) to see Tool at the Agora Theatre in Cleveland. And WOW, what an incredible show...I'm still electric from it. The great thing is, we're seeing them again tonight at the State Theatre here in Detroit. :) But anyhow, getting back to last night: We made it to the venue at about 7:30, a half-hour before showtime. Having never been to Cleveland before, we were in disbelief when we saw the sign for the Agora. It was a VERY small sign out by the road that said "Agora - food, music, and entertainment". That just *sounded* like a small venue to us, and we were right - the place couldn't have held more than 1500-2000 people. We made our way down to the main floor, and staked out a spot. We were there for only a few minutes when this fucked-up looking character came up to us and asked if we had any pot. We told him no, and he was like, "Man, I'm sick of alcohol...I need some grass." We kind of ignored him, but then he started going on about: "I LOVE shows like these, this is gonna be a great mosh, don't you think? It's so fun, you can just beat the fuck out of someone...send them to the hospital, you know? That's what I like to do right now, you look for the right person, and then as soon as the pit starts, you go after them and just drill them." I swear that I am not making this up. I always knew that idiots like this existed out there, but this was the first time I ever talked to one, and got to see his perspective on things. I was just staring and him, and I wanted to just say to him, "So what do you think of the music? You ever heard of Tool?", but I didn't, because I'm sure I would've been his first target as soon as the lights went out. IMHO, it's fuckers like this that ruin the show for everybody. Take up boxing or wrestling or something...DON'T go to a concert to do stupid shit like this. So anyhow, to avoid getting beaten up, we decided to sit in the seats directly behind the soundboard, and I tell you, they were easily the best seats in the house. We were on a direct level with Maynard, staring across the sea of moshers, and we had a totally unobstructed view of the band. I copied down the setlist off of the soundboard, and they stuck right to it: Stinkfist / 46 & 2 / Swamp Song / Eulogy / Prison Sex / Jimmy / H. / Cold and Ugly / Sober / Opiate / Aenema In between Jimmy and H., "Hooker" was written on the setlist, but was crossed out for whatever reasons. Which was a slight disappointment, because I *really* wanted to hear that (hopefully we'll hear it tonight...) The lights went out, and the Aenima album cover came up on the two screens behind the stage. You could hear Danny click his sticks together four times, and then "Stinkfist" was upon us. Wow, it was awesome; a great song to open with. Immediately, total anarchy reigned in the pit, but we were perfectly safe, had a great view, and could jump and move around. "46 & 2" followed, which sounded perfect. Danny's drum solo in the middle was brilliant, and the end of the song was fucking brutal. Then it was into "Swamp Song", which is actually one of my lesser favorite songs on Undertow, but really surprised me how good it was live. After this, Maynard mentioned how he was abducted by space aliens, and they gave him this next song. They started into "Eulogy", possibly my favorite song on Aenima, and I was blown away by how exact it sounded to the disc. Particularly the long intro...it sounded identical. The "Prison Sex"/"jimmy" combo followed, with "Prison Sex" featuring the extra verse. I thought the extra verse was very cool...has that Aenima vibe to it. Maynard dedicated it to his step-father, and said that he invited him down to the show, but he didn't think that he made it. Nobody seemed to get it...maybe people were unfamiliar with the subject matter. They followed this up with "H.", which was SO much better live than on the disc. Maynard introduced it by asking the crowd if they'd ever watched Warner Bros. cartoons, and how in those cartoons, you would often see an angel and a devil sitting on either shoulder of one of the cartoons. They would say two different things, but in their own separate ways they were both looking out for the best interests of the cartoon. Maynard said how life isn't really like that, and how good and evil isn't so clear cut all the time, and introduced "H." as relating to that. After they played that..."Cold and Ugly"!!! Unbelieveable. The middle part was slowed down a lot, and heavy as fuck. "Sober", with the cool extended intro, came next, and as many times as I've heard that song, it was still great. "Opiate" had the crowd going apeshit, everyone in the building was singing along, it seemed. Maynard did the "This is our last song...off our first album" routine again, which worked beautifully on the crowd. After that, all four members left their instruments and sat down on the drum riser. Danny and Maynard were talking and laughing about something. After a minute or so, Maynard says, "Okay, we'll play one more." And he started the ominous panting/breathing sound that opens "Aenema". It was truly an incredible song to close with. However...it didn't go off without a hitch. Right near the end, before the lyrics "Cause I'm prayin' for tidal waves" come back in after the "learn to swim"s, this buttfuck somehow got onto the stage. There had been two or three other people who made it onto the stage during the night, but they were all cool and just dove back into the crowd. You could tell right away that this asshole thought he was different, because after jumping up and down for a few seconds, he decided to run up behind Maynard and give him a big hug. Big mistake!! The second he touched Maynard, Maynard started flailing his elbows VERY violently to get this lug off of him, and then he swung at the guy. At this point, the guy realized he was in BIG trouble to fuck with Maynard, so he took off towards the pit. Maynard went after him, seeing that he was going to escape, and gave him a shove into the crowd. Then he disgustedly slammed the mike down onto the stage and stormed off. Man, he was *pissed*, and I don't blame him at all. I'm sorry, but you have to show some respect...you should NEVER touch the band, and never touch their shit. But this guy must've thought he was Maynard's best buddy or something. So Adam, Danny, and Justin finished the song without Maynard and without vocals, and then waved to the crowd, threw out some drumsticks, water, etc. and left. That was it...the show had come to an amazing, unforeseen ending. I know they haven't been playing any songs after "Aenima", so we only missed the vocals for the last minute and a half of that song, but I'm glad that didn't happen earlier in the set where we would've missed a lot more. Overall, this was a *phenomenal* show; it's hard to find the words to describe it. It was truly a visceral experience. I saw Tool back in '94, but I thought this show blew it away. I'm really looking forward to tonight's show at the State Theatre...hopefully we'll hear "Hooker" or "Undertow" or something a little different. It'll still be great no matter what, I'm sure! Anyhow, gotta run. Later... Steve Bekkala sbekkala@umich.edu