Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Tool punishes the Pepsi Center — the band at its best

Posted By on Wed, Oct 16, 2019 at 2:41 PM

Tool played the first of its two Denver shows on Tuesday, Oct. 15 at the Pepsi Center, in support of the newly released Fear Inoculum. Superfans or those heading to the Oct. 16 show will want to know the set list, which kicked off with the title track and included a thoroughly fulfilling journey through older material as well as half the new album, with a final encore devoted to "Stinkfist" off Ænima (during which frontman Maynard James Keenan told the crowd they were finally allowed to get out their phones to shoot the band, as there was a strict no-phone rule in place during the rest of the set).

Talking with fellow media members with whom I was seated (yes we all stood and danced damn near the whole time) and friends in attendance who've seen many past Tool performances, the consensus was that this was the most spectacular Tool show any of us had seen. The energy was palpable, the musicianship absolutely tight, the light show dazzling and the sound beautifully balanced across the arena for an all around memorable show.

A colleague at Westword who stood scribbling notes to the left of me the whole show, claims the show left him with insomnia, for which he doesn't sound upset at all. Give his article a read for the rundown on everything from Keenan's always-interesting wardrobe to the "surreal"  background projections that colored the stage with Tool's usual creepy-cool and very visceral, morbid, yet somehow spiritual/enlightened vibe.

Hearing the new tracks live for the first time proved especially exhilarating, though on a personal note my favorite track from the new album, "Descending," didn't get played; perhaps they'll whip it out for the Oct. 16 set. However, another favorite track, "Invincible," preceded "Stinkfist" during the encore, and was a particular highlight to the show.

After such a long hiatus between albums, Tool's capitalizing — perhaps feeding off of — all the pent-up fan energy, it seems. Fear Inoculum's been on repeat play for me and several friends. The band's as relevant and outstanding as ever, and never shy on showing an acerbic, humorous side, as noted on our media photo passes, which read: "Toxic Masculinity! A timeless example of the dangers presented by Iwo Jima, Feb 23 1945." 

Yep, play with that next time you can't sleep. The tour continues if you feel like hopping a plane and doing whatever it takes to score a ticket. 
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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Ghost, Nothing More rock Broadmoor World Arena with theatrical gusto

Posted By on Tue, Oct 15, 2019 at 9:36 AM

On Tuesday, Oct. 1, the Broadmoor World Arena hosted local rock radio station 94.3 KILO’s fifth annual Fall Brawl concert, this year featuring Swedish band Ghost as headliners and Texas band Nothing More supporting. It was a stop on Ghost’s nation-spanning Ultimate Tour Named Death, for which the Indy spoke to them, and that’s more than enough with the logistical details, because the Indy sent me to photograph the show, and it was wicked cool.

Nothing More opened the show up with a bang, with singer Jonny Hawkins standing atop a scrap metal ladder and cranking an air raid siren as the band broke into their 2018 single “Let It Burn.” His torso half-painted black, Hawkins bounded across the stage, an energetic and engaging performer, his vocals backed by guitarist Mark Vollelunga and bassist Daniel Oliver. KILO listeners will no doubt be excited to know that Hawkins announced plans to record and release an acoustic version of their song “Fadein/Fadeout” soon.

While the music was solid and engaging, I really dug their stage setup — Hawkins, previously the band’s drummer, added percussion on a kit bedecked with gears and rusty diamond mesh. At one point, he, Oliver and Vollelunga jammed a contraption into it to hold a bass and soloed on it collaboratively. At the end of the set, the percussion kit flipped onto its front, and Hawkins stood high atop it, playing a precarious-looking instrument dubbed the Scorpion Tail, which looks like That 1 Guy’s magic pipe as built by the warboys from Mad Max: Fury Road. They used it to cover Skrillex.

Sweden's Ghost performed at the Broadmoor World Arena on Tuesday, Oct. 1. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Sweden's Ghost performed at the Broadmoor World Arena on Tuesday, Oct. 1.
And then, there was Ghost. I’ll cop to it; this is the third time I’ve seen Ghost live. By all accounts, they’ve changed up their live setup, dialing back the aggressively occult/Satanic shtick as they’ve grown in popularity. Early albums leaned on the Satan thing pretty hard, but their most recent full-length album, Prequelle, shifted from lyrics about human sacrifice and carnal knowledge of the antichrist to metaphors about the black plague. Mainman Tobias Forge’s recent litigious misadventures with his now-former backing band of Nameless Ghouls coincided a change in the live show, too. Their faux-Cathedral setup now shows not images of Satan, but past incarnations of his Papa Emeritus persona, the skeletal pope character Forge played for the band’s first three albums.

But the fires of hell still burn for these ghouls, led by Forge in his newest persona, Cardinal Copia. They’ve always had a knack for the theatrical, and the new band — Forge plus seven instead of just five — sounds just as tight and bigger than Ghost has before. Adding an additional keyboardist and guitarist who also do vocal harmonies has let Forge sing in lower registers, where he’s more powerful and more comfortable, which is especially apparent on older tracks like “Ritual.”

The Ghouls also show more presence and personality onstage, with the lead and rhythm guitarists playing virtuoso and goofball during a solo-off and other elements of the show. During Prequelle (2017) instrumental “Miasma,” a guest musician dressed as glowing-eyed methuselah Papa Nihil was walked to center stage for a ripping saxophone solo.

As for the elements they’ve cut back on, Forge’s banter offering to wobble the asses and tickle the taints of all present with Meliora (2015) cut “Mummy Dust” feels puerile. In the past, he’s had a bit about how the female orgasm was once considered the work of the devil, which led into set-closer “Monstrance Clock” from 2012 album Infestissumam, which makes the “come together for Lucifer’s son” hook stick out more. But live performances of songs from 2019’s ‘60s-inflected EP Seven Inches of Satanic Panic, showed Ghost as sex-mad and catchy as they’ve ever been — see late-set sing-along, “Kiss the Go-Goat.” And of course, older and more overtly Satan-worshipping tracks like “Ritual,” “Satan Prayer” and “Year Zero” got the audience singing along with fervor. Key moment: pillars of flame lighting the faux-cathedral stage like the church scene in Hellraiser III as the crowd sings “Hail Satan, archangelo,” at the top of its lungs.

Ghost’s live show is theatrical in a way few modern bands aim for, and that makes them a treasure to see live. But all the provocative, spooky, horny, Satanic theatrics mean nothing without good rock/metal songs, and it’s no coincidence that I’ve name dropped track after track in this write-up. Consider Ghost a must-see band for rock fans of all stripes, even the ones who need to say a few Hail Marys afterwards.

Check out a slideshow of photos from both awesome performers below!
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Thursday, October 10, 2019

Raconteurs rock Denver's new Mission Ballroom, Jack White shreds guitar as usual

Posted By on Thu, Oct 10, 2019 at 1:06 PM

  • Matthew Schniper

The Raconteurs put on a hella energetic performance in support of their new album Help Us Stranger at Denver's new, spiffy Mission Ballroom venue in the RiNo District on Oct. 9.

The setlist included a kickoff with the first track from Help Us Stranger, "Bored and Razed" and a lengthy encore that toured from "Consolers of the Lonely" (the highly popular title track from the band's second album) through "Help Me Stranger" and "What's Yours Is Mine" to an extended finale with some guided crowd participation on "Steady, As She Goes" (the mainstream hit from Broken Boy Soldiers, the band's first album).

Guitar virtuoso and Raconteurs co-front man Jack White was in his usual form, which is to say shredding guitar like few of his generation can and lending now-legendary vocal stylings through various channels of distortion, backing up fellow singer Brendan Benson.

The two moved together at many points during the show to solo atop each other, also joined at interludes by bassist Jack Lawrence (The Dead Weather) for vocal support. Drummer Patrick Keeler (The Greenhornes) and keyboardist Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age) held together the tight musicianship; the band's sound bleeds folk and blues at turns with an overall pure rock n' roll vibe.

Help Us Stranger debuted at number 1 on the US Billboard 200 list back in June when it was released.

Our only grievance with this spectacular set and show was the absence of a personal favorite track, "Carolina Drama," which we've been pining to see live. Still, after a 10-year wait for this new album from the band, White and crew's showmanship more than satisfied. If you feel like hopping a plane, here's what's left for current tour dates.

Check out the below slideshow for at least a visual taste of the evening's energy:
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