Xcel Energy Center
St. Paul, MN
June 9th, 2017
On June 9th, 2017, my girlfriend and I made the four hour trip back to the Minneapolis and St. Paul area (affectionately dubbed “The Twin Cities”) to attend Tool’s latest visit to The Twin Cities. In 2001, I saw them play in the same building (the Xcel Energy Center; home of the Minnesota Wild) during the Lateralus tour. Despite the event being sixteen years ago now, I still proudly have plenty of visual memory of that concert. Especially when I was younger, this was a different kind of concert. The opening band was Tomahawk featuring Faith No More’s (as well as numerous side projects) Mike Patton, who was also very amazing in concert. I was very eager to experience once again, the phenomenon that is Tool in concert.
Completely unsurprised, the concert was sold out and the crowd last night was very loud, passionate and attentive. This was no different than the 2001 concert I had attended. We sat in section 116 which gave us a side view of the stage and band as well as the crowd below and across from us. This was different from 2001 as I was on the floor (general admission) and, again I was younger, noting the crowd wasn’t as important. The sea of audience members did not take their attention away from the stage, music, or visuals at any point. For once, there was no worry of “When’s the next Tool album coming out” as that is another topic and story. As usual, singer Maynard James Keenan parked himself in the back next to drummer Danny Carey and only visible by silhouette. Also their structure, bassist Justin Chancellor took stage left and guitarist Adam Jones took stage right.
They opened with “The Grudge” and the visuals began. The main section of the stage had three smaller screens (“smaller” was approximately 20 feet in height) and one large screen behind. Each side had smaller screens as well. Always one to get others to think, they also had a star at the top of the stage. At first, I wondered about the Star of David (six points). My girlfriend then corrected me, as our brains see what it is used to, that it was actually a seven pointed star. Quickly, I contemplated how that was possible. I will let you ponder this but the answer is surprisingly simple. This is what a Tool concert is.
Secondly, they jumped into Parabol and Parabola, which of course was accompanied by the video for the song featuring animations of the third eye. Exactly like my experience in 2001, the epic musical ending combined with visuals of very spiritual and deep emotions of the third eye entering the man and transcending him sent shivers down my spine and gave me goosebumps. Tool is known for constantly altering and modifying the playlist throughout tours, even from one concert to the next. In 2001, they did not play “Forty Six and 2” but played it last night. To my memory, they also did not play the title track to Ænima in 2001. However, they played it last night. As monumental as those moments were of finally hearing those songs live, it was the 14-minute long “Third Eye” (from Ænima) that was the biggest milestone. I remember when they rarely played it live for many reasons. However, within the past “x” so many years and with Maynard basically never appearing as a major visual component of Tool concerts, they have been playing it often. Even so, seeing the audience’s reaction and participation in the segment “..prying open my third eye” was profound.
Last concert, or at least a couple of shows back, Adam Jones had been having issues with his talkbox for his guitar setup. This is integral as the guitar solo for “Jambi” depends on it. At one show, he reportedly thought it sounded horrible as it cut in and out and kicked the mic stand down. Future audiences, Jambi lives on as his talkbox sounded fantastic tonight. He also had the look of triumph as he finished the solo without any issues or errors. This deserves a shoutout to his guitar tech, many of which personnel don’t hear appreciation or thanks from the general public for likely extremely hard and stressful work that makes ANY band sound the way they want and on point.
“Intermission” comes and the lights come half on and others rush for water and, unfortunately in my opinion, likely more alcohol. A short side note, I don’t judge but I have never been one to drink at concerts as I want to experience the music with full attention and memory. Back to the concert, intermission featured visuals of a 50ft game of Asteroids (Yes, the 1979 Atari video game). I don’t remember if Player 1 or Player 2 won. The band returned as Danny Carey carried out a nice 5-10 minute drum solo. I swear this man secretly has two extra arms.
I will respectfully leave the rest of the songs played, visuals and other concert experience to be unspoiled for future audiences. In addition, the Tool shirts have returned to be amazingly awesome. The collaboration of legend Alex Grey‘s artwork as well as continuously emerging and evolving Adam Jones’s artwork made choosing only one hard. Pick one up but buy it from the band, not the vultures outside leeching off fans and the bands alike. I recommend the same should go for tickets.