LIVE REVIEW + PHOTOS: Sessanta in Boston, MA (04.03.24)

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LIVE REVIEW + PHOTOS: Sessanta in Boston, MA (04.03.24)

A celebration of celebrations. Three epic bands joining together to commemorate the Sessanta (meaning 60thbirthday)of the mad genius Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan. What was originally meant to be a one-night event, morphed into a tour among friends to showcase some of Keenan’s favorite music outside of his most popular musical vehicle. I was initially a little confused why Primus was involved in this trifecta, but a little research showed that original Primus drummer Tim “Herb” Alexander has played in both of A Perfect Circle and Puscifer between stints in Primus. So, I’m sure Claypool and Keenan have known each other for some time now. A huge fan of Tool but less familiar of A Perfect Circle and Puscifer, I was certainly interested in checking out this one of a kind gathering and was curious how this whole shindig was going to take shape. Primus has also been a huge musical monolith for me since high school. For those in the know, Les is more and Primus sucks!

Finding out last minute that phones and cameras would be shunned for most of the duration of the show (including press until the very last song) was a bit disappointing but I was down for the ride, ears open, and happy to enjoy whatever sonic journey they would bring us on. There were so many moments throughout this show I thought to myself, “Damn! Would love to get a shot of that!” (the inner photographer monologue in me). But a quarter through the setlist, I found myself looking backwards at the rest of the audience… and I got it. It was truly a sight to behold. Not a single person in sight had their phone up to their face. They were all in the moment, fists in the air, dancing, flailing about…singing along…just living in the moment and enjoying the show! I must say. It was beautiful! I’m an 80’s kid; This reminded me of the days of old before we had this insane technology in the palm of our hands 24/7. So,I may have not initially liked not having the option of shooting the best moments of the show…but I certainly got it. It was easy to see why Maynard has these restrictions in place during many of his shows.

I usually review bands in the order that they play and with a certain descriptive cadence, but I’m going to keep this one as loose and amorphous as the show was. With this type of lineup, I was curious to see which band opened for which, but as we soon found out, there were no openers, there were no headliners. They were there to present a seemingly non-stop party, featuring a few songs of one band, then a few of another, a few of another, a mix bag of collaborations and a joyous blend of everything. The bands that weren’t playing never even left or were off stage for the most part. They had clearly visible wings throughout the 2 -level stage with couches and even at one point a ping pong table for band members to enjoy, which they most certainly did. Despite the loose setup, the music seemed very concise, powerful, anthemic and at times ethereal. A Perfect circle was as rocking as I expected but man, I have to say, Puscifer definitely blew me away. The blend and harmony of voices between Maynard James Keenan and English singer Corina Round was beautiful and otherworldly. First class musicians performing their source material as close to recording quality as they seemed they could get…though at times, even better. The echoes of their voices that vibrated off the walls of the Boch Center that night was enough to create goosebumps. A totally different level of music I am not used to hearing live.

It also must be mentioned how different of a show this was for me seeing Maynard James Keenan. I’ve now seen Tool three times, and each time Maynard is the manic conductor waiting and conducting in the wings. At this show, it was like witnessing a different singer or personality altogether. For the most part, he was front and center commanding the stage and generally seemed happy and pleasant. He always has that appearance and somewhat aggressive stance around the microphone as if he’s going to tackle an audience member if anyone got on his nerve in the slightest degree. But on this night, he seemed like a man who was truly enjoying himself and playing amongst friends, willing to go with whatever flow the night took him. So that was certainly different and fun to witness. Primus hasn’t lost a step. Les Claypool is still the man and one of if not the best bass player alive today in my humble opinion (I do have an ongoing top 10 list). He wields that instrument like a true musical weapon. He’s funky, weird, and very technically proficient. I must admit I was mostly at this show for Primus and they never disappoint. One highlight for me was when Maynard sang lead vocal for most of “Tommy The Cat”(even though Claypool had to the intro because, well, it’s a lot of wacky dialogue to remember on the spot). During one of the bass solos, Les Claypool got on an automated stair riser that slowly ascended up the stairs to the 2nd level while Maynard fiddled with his bass, adding to the thumpy dialogue within the tune.

A friend of mine who saw the show in Boston prior to this night mentioned that Maynard rode the same chair lift solo at one point in the show, sort of playing into the old decrepit man role since it is,after all,a birthday show. The ongoing ping pong games were also somewhat entertaining. Though as an avid pong player myself, it was evident watching the games that there was always one player attempting to take the game seriously and the other, well, not so much. The obvious highlight was listening to all three bands come together to play their new E.P.P.P. which saw everyone collaborate with everyone, culminating in the last song, Puscifer’s “Grand Canyon” where everyone tried to find time to shine on stage. And of course, Claypool took out his somewhat iconic pig mask to play his standup bass for this last number. This was a wild ride and an experience like no other. I highly recommend if you are reading this, you make it out to see this spectacle before this tour is done. Expect to leave your phone in your pocket and enjoy the ride!

Photos – Sessanta at Boch Center Wang Theatre in Boston, MA on April 3rd:

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