January 15th is a special day for me. Having almost died in a stupid car accident, a good friend made the greatest effort to save my life. That is another story that I’ll tell later, what is important is that 25 years ago, I was as good as dead, and now I am not.
As a by-product, I view the 15th of January with more importance than my birthday, Christmas, and Easter combined. So when I found out Tool, who is among my three favorite bands, was playing at Mandalay Bay Casino on the 15th of January 2012, I bought my tickets.
Side note, Ticketmaster, you are going to hell, you f***ers! You are not allowed on my shortbus without paying 4x what everyone else is paying to get to your final destination. Two $75 tickets for $291 – you suck and you deserve to burn. From here on out, you will be known here on the Shortbus as Ticketbastard.
So, C-Jane decided to come along even though she isn’t the biggest Tool fan. Among her favorite bands is System of a Down. (As some of you may remember, what happened at that SoaD-show is partly why I needed to delete my entire blog from 2009 to July 2011. I don’t really want to talk about it, there are still very hard feelings – see you in hell, Verizon Wireless.)
Similar to our experience at Verizon Amphitheater, we’d expected Nazi-Gestapo treatment at the Tool show, but to our surprise, Mandalay Bay’s security team was professional and courteous. Getting into the show was not invasive or humiliating like Verizon Amphitheater in Irvine, California made it to be. There was no ‘bend over, we’re gonna see how far we can fit our fists.’ Even the police at Mandalay Bay were politer than the Goose-stepping Irving Wehrmacht.
So we got into the show with fantastic ease and found our seats; the ushers were nice and professional. Soon after came the opening act. I can’t tell you the name of the band, the singer went to the mic and said, “Hey Las Vegas, we’re Muffle-muff-blah!” and then they jammed for about thirty minutes. They seemed the appropriate opening act for Tool, and then at the end, the singer said, “Tool will be out soon, we are Muffle-muff-blah!” and then, they were gone. I shouted, “What did you say?” C-Jane thought he’d said, “Kick-me-not, or Dick-tied-Knot, or Lick of Snot– something like that.”
As promised, Tool showed up promptly after a quick stage re-arrangement. I was impressed with how amazingly humble the musicians appeared as they came out onto stage. Wearing casual blue-jeans and simple shirts– nothing flashy– there was just a simple rock-band showing up to rip some fantastic songs for us to enjoy. Drummer Danny Carey, guitarist Adam Jones, bassist Justin Chancellor – picked up their equipment and started rocking. Vocalist Maynard James Keenan stuck to the shadows for the entire show, his Mohawk a silhouette against the bright backdrop. Keenan hates the spotlight, an artists’ quirk shared with this author.
First song delivered a blazingly accurate performance of ‘Hooker with a Penis,’ one of their older songs working into a smooth transition, transforming into ‘Jambi,’ one of their highest acclaimed songs. As the song ends, Keenan says, “This next song is about fisting” and quickly goes into the song ‘Stinkfist.’ The crowd went wild.
They performed many of their most popular songs, but I was pleased to hear off-songs like ‘Ticks and Leeches,’ and ‘Pushit,’ but I was surprised when they didn’t play ‘H’ ‘Sober’ and ‘Vicarious,’ their three most popular songs, “Vicarious’ being my absolute favorite.
The highlight of the show was an extended play of the 9 and ½ minute song, ‘Lateralus.’ The roadies ran out and built a mini-drum set. From backstage another drummer steps out and started beating some wicked tribal sounds as both drummers went into a percussion rage. Out of nowhere appears a wild-haired Sammy Hagar look-alike whipping out a wicked guitar solo in place of Adam Jones. I don’t have a clue to who he was, but he tore up the stage for about two minutes, then handed Adam’s guitar back and disappeared backstage. The show closed with “aEnema,” a fabulously cynical song about how Mother-Earth needs to flush the filth of L.A. out to sea.
The show’s visuals were incredible and indescribable. I wish I did hallucinogenic mushrooms and could follow Tool on tour like a new-fashioned dead-head, but sadly for the same reason I didn’t support Occupy Wherever, I’m responsible and have a life to lead. We left the show fully satisfied, (even without magic mushrooms) and came home, C-Jane a bigger fan than before.