Posted by Nade on Thu, 07 Dec 2006.
This has been the one I'd been waiting for since I'd found out TOOL were headlining Download and I couldn't go. Cue *lots* of excitement when the band announced this tour following their success at Donnington, and we got tickets.
6.30pm. Doors are open. Hefty security checks are in place. After throwing excess clothing into the cloakroom to leave me in jeans, tee-shirt and boots, we had to brave the security staff.
"Empty your pockets!"
Oops. Out comes my phone, my wallet, my keys, my mp3 player, a family of kittens I'd forgotten about. You get the drift, I carry a lot around in my pockets.
We break free and go in. Spotting empty barrier space, I break into a sprint that would put speedy gonzales to shame. Ignoring my friend's protests that we'll be crushed, I cling to the barrier, beaming at my clear view of the stage. I'm not going anywhere for the next few hours.
The arena slowly fills up. The hour we have to wait for Mastodon to come on seems to stretch out into three. Hang on, is it...?
The arena goes dark. There seem to be more shapes on stage. Up come the lights as Mastodon launch into a set so heavy the very sound punches every inch of your body it can reach, and then some. By the end of the set, my ears are ringing, my whole body aches from just being subjected to the bass and the kick of the drums, and I have a smile on my face so wide the top of my head is threatening to fall off.
Ending on Sanders threatening to throw his bass out into the crowd, and seeing a few raised hands ready to catch it, the arena lights up again. This time to ready the stage for who we're all here to see. All fired up from forty-five minutes of non-stop metal, the crowd shifts anxiously, slowly edging closer to the stage to get a view of Maynard's crew.
Minutes stretch onto hours before the area finally goes dark, and the appreciative (and necessary) screaming begins as the band make their way onto the stage.
Launching straight into 'Stinkfist', the crowd goes wild as TOOL do what they do best. Maynard doesn't seem to want to talk much to the audience, not that we mind after all. We paid our good money to see the guys perform, and they didn't let us down.
"It's a step up from Rock City..." The man himself has spoken, from his position in front of the screens at the back of the stage. Cheers greet his statement. He pauses to let them die down, and you can almost imagine his smirk as he carries on the sentence. "Of course, it smells better in there." Nice.
It's come to a point where I don't know where to look on stage. Tearing my eyes away from Justin Chancellor (who has given me a new-found respect for bass players), to Maynard at the back of the stage, to the screens he stands in front of. I could spend hours just staring at those screens trying to make out the images. Because, of course, they're full of the brain-twisting illusions that TOOL are famous for.
An elbow to my ribs points my attention to the lasers being shot around the arena. Suddenly the need for the mirrors that the road crew were placing down during set up becomes clear. As the lasers seems to move closer to the audience, several people try to put their hands up to touch them. A vain hope.
But of course this is the 10,000 days tour, and for all the old favourites the band play to please the crowd, they play the new material too. As we recognised songs such as 'The Pot', '10,000 days [Wings for Marie Pt II]' and 'Vicarious', we roared our approval and attempted to mosh, as close as you can to a song that insists on changing its time signiture every few parts. Most confusing.
"Okay, that's it, we're done. We're going now. Good night."
No, Maynard, you're not. We can still see you at the back of the stage setting up for the encore. Everyone knows the two cardinal rules for gigs - pass people water when they need it, and it ain't over til the lights come up.
And then they launched into Aenima. I can't think of a more effective encore, one designed to steal the last of your voice and make you use the last of your energy reserves. For the last musical part of the song, stage lights and smoke machines came together, and left you with the impression that you were watching hell on stage. And loving every minute of it.
This time, the lights did come up, snapping you back to the reality you'd escaped for the past three and a half hours while the bands were playing. Leaving you disorientated as you were herded out of the arena, silly smile playing across your place. One thing's for sure, the comedown from that gig was harsh, but worth every minute.