Tool : Tweeter Center, Mansfield MA 9/29/2006

Tool’s sold out performance at the Tweeter Center was an apocalyptic sing-along that had to be seen to be believed. Maynard James Keenan and Co. started off the night’s first act with “Stinkfist,” the opener off 1996’s Aenima. Early on, Maynard was lacking the explosion of energy he’s known for, and stood still. In keeping with his reclusive tendencies, as soon as the photographers ceased shooting, Maynard kicked it up a notch and exhibited the fierce stage presence fans were used to expecting from their favorite messianic front-man.

Tool’s stage setup strayed from the norm, placing their front-man behind the group on a raised platform next to drum-god Danny Carey, while keeping the tradition of assigning the guitarist and bassist to opposite sides of the stage. As Tool tore into “The Pot,” the single off this year’s 10,000 Days, the stringed section of the group let their long hair hang forward as they head-banged from their designated posts, drawing attention to the almost-perverse, sexually oriented stage dynamics Maynard projected towards the crowd from his alter. Tool made a beautiful transition from “The Pot” into “46&2” as Carey continued beating out drum patterns that focus on occult-oriented symbols. Maynard belted out his ideas on chromosomes and human evolution through the song’s lyrics.

As soon as Tool wrapped their biology lesson, they took the evening’s performance into a second act that was entirely based on their new album. Segueing from 10,000 Days’ “Lost Keys,” into “Rosetta Stoned,” followed by “Wings (1&2)” the band demonstrated their mastery of the new material in a way that not only exhibited confidence, but displayed an exceptional skill at crafting material that holds its own as a greater concept, beyond that of a single song. During this segment of the act, bassist Justin Chancellor pitter-pattered around a masterful solo that utilized the melodic sense of John Paul Jones, while displaying the technical efficiency of Cliff Burton.

At the height of the evening’s second act, the band really gave their fans a sense of where their money went. They kicked the stage schematics up a notch with a bizarre array of video projections and a volley of lasers that could rival anything Pink Floyd would take on the road. While the group walked the crowd through “Wings,” the array of lasers were made into a singular wall of light, with moving clouds projected against it.

Leaving the stage after their second act of the evening, the group returned to the stage with monstrous applause, performing an encore that started with the album defining “Lateralus.” After they wrapped the tune, they moved into a powerful take on “Vicarious” that raised the screams from the stands to a decibel level that had yet to be reached at any point in the evening. Ending the night on a note that would have been almost impossible to top, Tool wrapped things up with a second encore consisting entirely of Maynard’s apocalyptic visions for the city of Los Angeles, as told through the song “Aenima.”

The fierce showmanship and high production values Tool ensures as a minimal standard truly shone at the Tweeter center. By tapping into the raging energy one would expect from Metallica, while incorporating the depth and artistic grace that’s affiliated with the likes of Radiohead, Tool has established themselves as one of today’s premier live attractions.

Photos by Scott Fleischman

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