Spring 1997 Tour Reviews

Date: February 28

From: GPEPIN@FSC.EDU Subject: Tool: 2.28.97-Wallace Civic Centre Review Well, It's the morning after and I can still hear Adam's harmonics... First, I won't even comment on The Melvins, or should I call them Sideshow Bob and an Amish guy...anyway...here it goes. After much anticipation, Tool has come back to the Wallace Civic Centre in Fitchburg Massachusetts. This was the resceduled date from a show in November where lead singer James "Maynard" Keenan came down with Laryngitis(sp?). As the Melvins' crew breaks down the set, the anticipation already begins to build in the crowd. A few people in the crowd begin crowd surfing and one hits the floor unexpectedly, then shaking the concrete arena floor for atleast ten feet around him. A few minutes pass and the generic music in between sets stops and Tool's intro music fades in. The music is reminiscent of Sitar music with a 'loungy' twist, and this combination makes the atmosphere of the arena begin to hum or buzz. The crowd begins to get impatient as another ten minutes of this relaxing music continues. *THAT* is what Tool is about; Anticipation will only make the end result that much better, sweeter. This crowd of closed minded jocks can't see that though(sorry to generalize) and they begin pushing and shoving. I find myself squeezed against the penalty box in the hockey rink, which serves as the floor of the venue. Then the lights dim, and I head for higher ground. The rumble emits from the speakers and the 'smokebox' dissolves on to the screen behind the stage: They both penetrate me as if there was no other place to go. Tool enters the stage and I immediately see the Orange 'eye' that has been painted on the top of Keenan's head. The pattern of the 'eye' is similar to a V with the iris on Keenan's forehead. Otherwise he is painted blue, with only a pair of Tool boxers. Justin Chancellor is also painted blue, which makes me come up with a hypothesis. This painting of body is a connection between the band members. In the times I have seem Tool and have read about their shows, I have found that there is a connection between the colors and the band. For example, at one show, Keenan was painted half white and half blue. To his left was Adam Jones who was painted blue, and to his right was Chancellor who was painted White...now do you see? Tool opened with the epic Third eye from their latest release AEnima. It was executed perfectly. Then came Stinkfist, and yes this was done flawlessly, even with a little ad libbing from the band. After every few songs. Keenan would hit a break point and speak to us in his ever so jovial ways. He said in so many words, "Sorry we're late... (screaming from crowd)I had a little cough, he he " I find it amazing how I feel during Tool concerts. The music takes every vibration from the intruments, and hurls it through the audience, then binding everything in a slow harmonious wave. The energy in the arena made me feel at home. I felt like my movements were controlled by the music; As if I were its slave. A few songs into the show, I found myself crying. Their performance of'Eulogy' and 'H.' took every last bit of energy from me and released it. I found I couldn't stand...almost as if the music pushed me down like gravity. Even later in the show, when I sat in the stands like a puppet on a string they played the long intro to 'Sober'. Both Adam and Justin were sending waves of feedback through the arena. The reverb and acoustics of the arena made it seem like the music whipped from front to back. As the intro evolved it made my energy come back to me. An interesting thing happened during the intro. Keenan took what seemed to be the head of a drum and his orange body paint and began to draw circles on the stage. In any event, he may have been inspired to compose another work of art as one was taking place. Sober had finished, and Keenan introduced Justin Chancellor as being from Massachusetts...Me found funny. The night ended on a very good note, and a funny one at that. Tool played opiate, which Keenan said was the, "Last song...off our first album". Everyone was surprised, but me...oh well. Keenan, after a short meeting with the rest of the members of the band, went to the mic and said, "Oh, are you guys still here?" and every one got quite the kick out of it. He went on to say, "Hey, you guys wanna play a game?(cheering)...Where you you recognize this from?" He went on to say "hey hey hey hey hey" from the song Aenema. No one got the joke though...It was supposed to be corduroys...this guy is great! So they ended the nigh with Aenema...and it was perfect! BTW, I was looking for Kabir, who is a tall skinny guy from India with long hair...You'd be amazed how many shinny, long haired Indians there were there last night, but I couldn't find Kabir...hmm.. It's over...finally. Greg gpepin@fsc.edu

From: "Justin R. Taylan" (taylaj@rpi.edu) Fitchburg, Massachusetts February 28, 1997 Set List (correct order) 1. Third Eye 2. Stinkfist 3. Forty-Six & 2 4. Swamp Song 5. Eulogy 6. Prison Sex 7. H. 8. PuShit 9. Sober 10. Opiate encore 11. Ænema Fitchburg, Mass “Sorry we’re late... How was Christmas?” We tried to get the show early, and joined a mass of fans in four lines to enter Wallace Civic Center. Security gave a thorough pat-down, while orange shirted employees passed out “conduct rules” for the event, which stated that “crowd-surfing will not be tolerated.” (More on this later.) The arena was already filled with smoke when we arrived. The place was about one-quarter full and few people were on the floor but when the lights dimmed for the Melvins, everyone rushed to their position on the floor or in the bleachers. The Melvins played for about a half hour. The crowd was becoming increasingly hostile and began chanting “TOOL” as the roadies prepared the stage for the main act. Danny’s drum set was behind a curtain, already set up, so all they had to do was take away the Melvins’ drum set and jerk us around with ambient electronic music. When the lights went off, there was a tremendous roar from the crowd which was already “pushing me, shoving me” to get the closest possible location. We were all in the third row of the crowd, nearly dead center. A curtain dropped to reveal two large video screens, and then the band took the stage. Maynard was wearing only a pair of boxer shorts and was painted blue from head to toe, just like the characters in the “Track#1 video.” He had small fluorescent color accent dots painted on his joints, down the center of his body, and in a V shape on his head. The whites of his eyes were far more impressive than any make-up job. TOOL began with Third Eye. Maynard attacked the song with a microphone in each hand. Immediately afterwards, was Stinkfist. The video screens showed grainy excerpts from the music video. All of our crew shouted “Chickenweasel” and we heard few others, and attempted to triangulate the location of other “chickenweaselers.” During the first pause, Maynard acknowledged the crowd , “Sorry we’re late. How was Christmas?” The show was off to a great start. Next was Forty-Six & 2, Swamp Song, then Eulogy. Eulogy was the biggest surprise for me. With a modified megaphone, and a normal mic, he was able to recreate the song without any sort of digital sampling or fancy electronics. It was quite amazing to hear TOOL play all their songs without an entire studio behind them to engineer all the effects. This skill is something that many other bands are unable to do. Next was Prison Sex. By this time the crowd was totally mesmerized. Maynard asked “You know in Warner Brothers cartoons how they show a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other? Both try and tell you what is best. This song is about choices.” Many people yelled “Opiate!!!” but we knew better, it was H. To hear this song live was a real treat, and felt the emotion of every note. Some fans are critical of this song as a concert show because its not exactly a “rocking” song all the way through like all their other radio singles. Quite the contrary. Maynard’s incredible voice and the ethereal sounds of the two guitars were definitely “Touching me, changing me, And considerately killing me.” For me, this song is what the Ænema album is all about. PuShit followed. Then the lights dimmed for the band as they began the ten minute intro. for Sober. I got a good look at Adam and Justin’s guitar work and it looked like Adam was using some sort of tool on his guitar. Maynard was producing all sorts of strange effects from rubbing his microphone around some large, thin disc-shaped object. We could identify the song when Danny started pounding out the beat. When the familiar riffs of Sober introduced the beginning of the song everyone came alive. Their “last song....off the first album” was Opiate. It ended with thunderous applause and anger that this was the last song. The band met for a quick conference and then returned to their positions for an encore song. Maynard came back on stage and says, “Guess what this is:” Then he does the “Hæ, hæ” like in the beginning of Ænema. It turned out it was a little joke. “A pair of pants” he said it was. I don’t think too many people got it right off the bat, and he motioned that it was “over our heads.” Then they played the song, which was their last. At one point in the show, Maynard spoke to the crowd and asked us to “on the count of three to say Yes, from deep down within ourselves.” I’m not sure what his point was....Maybe he was having fun with a crowd which “deaf and blind and dumb and born to follow.” About the postponement of the show from back in November, Maynard said, “Sorry we’re late. How was Christmas?” Now it’s time for the little commentary against crowd-surfers. I know everyone is very excited about the band and feels something deep inside that sometimes can’t be contained, but there are people who infringe on others’ rights to enjoy the show in their own way. Myself, I go up front to watch the show up close and see what the band is doing on stage. I don’t mind some moving around and dancing, but there are some actions which are clearly done to “rule the mosh pit” and “beat people up.” Such actions are: pushing with both arms into a crowd which is obviously packed cock-to-ass already; flapping one’s arms like a chickenweasel to “make space” when it is apparent that the surrounding spectators are the “innocent” observers and the real trouble is coming from the back. Also, crowd-surfing in general does not make me happy. People kick and flail their arms, just to stay up there. People who are in the cock-to-ass section can’t get their arms up to hold the surfer. The security was “not going to tolerate” this activity but all they really did was to direct those who came over the barrier back into the crowd to hurt more people. Now here’s what I don’t understand: The people who like to mosh and crowd-surf usually don’t even watch the stage, so why not take the act to the back where they can still hear the music and leave the “viewers” alone up front to get into the on-stage performance. I lost my favorite hat because of a reckless crowd-surfer and after the show, all that was left on the floor was dust and dirt from all the white trash. SUMMARY: Overall, the show was great, TOOL sounded good and stage presence was excellent. Maynard's dance was something to be seen. He was swaying and spinning from side to side, forward and back. The only downer was being squeezed together with others and it made it hard to "breathe, to feel, to know I'm alive." Collaborative report, Poughkeepsie report coming next. Send comments via personal e-mail to: ALbert zurowb@rpi.edu Justin taylaj@rpi.edu