I like many of you were unable to attend the Tool show in Portland last Thursday. Lucky for us Matt Koch (who you can hear on the air tonight at midnight) gave us a show review!
Take it away Matt……..
As soon as I saw my friend’s Facebook status saying he had an extra ticket to see Tool in Portland, I knew I had to jump on it. Granted the show was in less than 48 hours and I was scheduled to work that night, but with Tool there’s no second guessing… just make it happen. You will not be disappointed. Having seen them 3 times before, I knew this.
First of all, the crowd at a Tool show is always great people watching. They really bring out an interesting cross-section of society, especially in a city like Portland. The melting pot of metalheads, bros, hippies, hipsters, goths, and even the occasional soccer mom was a spectacle all by itself. Speaking of diversity, there’s always a wide range of chemicals being ingested as well.
When you see a Tool show it’s so much more than just a musical experience, it’s sort of like an entire sensory overload (hence all the chemicals). Whoever their laser guy is definitely deserves a raise. (I believe Adam Jones is responsible for a lot of the visuals on the screen, and he’s probably already getting his fair share.) They do such a great job of controlling the vibe of the room with a “less is more” approach. Those few times Maynard acknowledges the crowd, everyone goes absolutely ballistic. The band is always more than happy to relish the lull between songs, and the tension/anticipation that comes with it. It really is a special kind of anticipation compared with other bands too, because most people in attendance are OBSESSED with Tool, and no two Tool fans will ever agree on what their greatest song is (hell, I can’t even agree with myself on what I think it is). So you have tens of thousands of people all eagerly wanting to hear something different, and there’s no one “big hit”. This was my first time seeing them where I tried to have no expectations or hopes of what they were going to play, so I just sat back, relaxed and let them bring the awesomeness to me.
The setlist was good, especially the second half of it. This was the second time I’ve seen them open with Third Eye, which I think does a great job of setting the mood up front. The intermission after Lateralus caught most of the crowd off guard and threw the guy next to me on mushrooms into a state of utter shock and confusion. (I’m sure Maynard the prankster would’ve gotten a kick out of it.) Coming back with Danny’s drum solo into a King Crimson cover was a real cool way to warm the crowd back up, not that anyone needed it. As usual, no encore. Dig the complete setlist here. http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/tool/2014/moda-center-portland-or-7bc28e2c.html
My only real issue that night was the sound, which I think has to do with it being an arena show. They have so many little nuances going on (looking at you, Mr. Carey) and I just don’t think the acoustics of an arena work as well for a band like that versus, say Avenged Sevenfold, who have literally changed their sound because they play such huge venues now and the complexities tend to get drowned out. I thought this when I saw Tool at Comcast Arena in ‘07 and I thought it Thursday night at the Moda Center. I will say that I did not have the best seats, but that’s kind of the point: at The Gorge in ‘06 and at Nokia Theater in ‘10 (where they played two nights in order to avoid Staples Center, the arena right next door) I didn’t need the best seats to hear everything super clearly because they are both built for concerts, not basketball games. It wasn’t going on for the whole show or even every song, just noticeable in certain parts. But at the same time there’s 80 gazillion Tool fans out there, so they kinda need to play big venues. That’s how it goes and they always make up for it with killer visuals that are awesome no matter where you sit!
All things considered this was my second favorite Tool show I’ve seen, behind The Gorge in ‘06. Really, I think the fact I have 3 prior shows to compare it to is a sign that I’ve got my life on the right track (although I’m a greedy bastard and still wish I was there at The Paramount!) If you ever have the chance to see them: DO IT!
It’s been confirmed they are working on a new album, that is all I or anyone else around here knows. I’ll close with this optimistic SPECULATION that I came up with at Union Jack’s after the show: I think/hope that work on the new album is going well and the band was like, “Hey let’s do a few dates to have some fun, get back in the groove, maybe get inspired a little bit.” Then hopefully once this mini-tour wraps up, they go back in the studio fresh, finish up the album and put it out in time for a summer tour that involves a show at The Gorge that all you beautiful people reading this get to experience with me. I’m gonna keep hoping for that til someone tells me it’s not happening. See you there!