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The Mars Volta

The Mars Volta: live in Tokyolive in Tokyo (2006)
Universal Music Group

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: animeska1animeska1
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Last August, when I found out I was moving to Japan, it was a bit of a bittersweet affair. More sweet than bitter, but I had to give up my Mars Volta tickets. These were special tickets though, as they granted me entrance to their one (of only two) solo shows during their nation-wide tour with Red H.


Last August, when I found out I was moving to Japan, it was a bit of a bittersweet affair. More sweet than bitter, but I had to give up my Mars Volta tickets. These were special tickets though, as they granted me entrance to their one (of only two) solo shows during their nation-wide tour with Red Hot Chili Peppers. I knew the show would be special for this reason, and also because TMV had been gettinig less-than-warm receptions from RHCP's jock-heavy crowd.

Still, I moved to Japan, the Chicago show came and went, and special it was indeed. Apparently, they opened with a Pink Floyd cover (I'm not a huge Floyd fan, but TMV doing a cover is very rare), debuted the new song "Rapid Fire Tollbooth," and even played the semi-rare B-side from their sophomore full-length, Frances the Mute.

"Whatever," I thought, "I live in Japan. That's badass."

Then TMV announced a Japan Tour, and I was a happy boy.

The events leading up to and after the tour with the Chili Peppers brought all kinds of untold drama, including the departure of not one, but TWO amazing drummers (Jon Theodore and Blake Fleming). I thus gave up all hope of receiving an epic, well-rehearsed set list that those lucky bastards in Chicago had the privilege of seeing.

Flash-forward to the start of the show. I look around in awe; Japanese people everywhere, eyes glossy with the excitement of TMV appearing in their home country. Some horns start blaring over the PA and out walks all eight members of the Mars Volta.

There's some noise, nothing too indulgent (yet), and they immediately start the intense, in-your-face riff that comprises much of "Rapid Fire Tollbooth." This was an amazing way to start the show. No need for jamming to get into a song, no intro, just balls-to-the-wall rock. Instantly, the band was going nuts.

I had heard a live version of this new song, but it was only around four minutes. The new "RFT" has been extended to around the 10-minute mark with an insanely dynamic jam that couldn't have been more on-point, never droning on for what felt like too long. I've seen TMV five times now, and this was definitely the best opener I've seen.

Next came the indulgence, but not too fast. What would become a fairly-structured jam session hovering around the 60-minute mark started with a heavily syncopated riff. There were probably around seven movements total in the jam, often getting almost deathly quiet only to be brought back up with almost street punk straight rhythms brought forth by new drummer Deantoni Parks. Might I add that he looked like a snake while he played drums. Interesting presence. This jam was, for the most part, very solid, my only complaints being that I felt like they held on to some of the same riffs for too long, and the scales in the middle made the direction of the jam too obvious. It just wasn't that cool knowing exactly when the jam was going to get heavy again, but these scales made it so. One VERY cool part was when Cedric picked up a fan and started singing through it, an effect I've never heard live before. Juan's bass solo near the end of this jam was amazing, as well.

70 minutes after the show had started came the first recorded material familiar to public audiences: "Viscera Eyes." This song was amazing to see live, but the beginning didn't have the punch I would have expected. Still, they pulled off all of the dynamics found on the album, and the second movement of the song was particularly badass.

The best part of the night, hands down, was the night's closer, "Day of the Baphomets." Also off of their newest album, Amputechture, the song gave Juan the opportunity for a second bass solo, and it was perfect. This song drove the night home, with the Volta rocking out harder than I've ever seen in the past five or so years. The percussion solo was epic. Honestly, the energy pouring out of the stage and into the audience during this song was like nothing I've ever seen before. Near the end of the song, Cedric became "The Entertainer" by doing several jump-kicks. Interesting. Paul from ATDI is now in the band, and he really helps hold down the songs. However, he's gotten really fat and doesn't look like himself anymore. I was surprised. He still rocks out though.

That was it. The band was spent, and Omar seemed especially appreciative of the response, bowing and mouthing "arigato" ("thank you") over and over again. It was a nice reaction, really.

So I didn't get to see the special Chicago show, but this definitely made up for it. Sure, at times the jam was a little long, the flute was piercingly loud in the PA, and sometimes Cedric's vocals were not as audible as they should have been, but still, this was the Mars Volta at the top of their game and Omar gave some of the best guitar solo's I've seen him give. One of the best performances I've seen in my life.

Might I add: It's quite a surreal experience to be rocking out and singing along like you're at a concert in America, only for the lights to come up and see that you are surrounded by Japanese, and must again start speaking the little bit of Japanese that you know to get by.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
Rx Bandits - The ResignationAlkaline Trio - GoddamnitThe Mars Volta - AmputechtureWeezer - WeezerFugazi - Repeater + 3 SongsOperation Ivy - Operation IvyRx Bandits - ...And the Battle BegunThe Mars Volta - Bedlam in GoliathWeezer - PinkertonThe Blood Brothers - Young Machetes

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Greensmith (March 23, 2012)

Great review. Felt like I was there.

BisonChris (December 4, 2006)

this band bores me

Anonymous (December 3, 2006)

"I didn't get through the first few paragraps because it became quite clear that this review was slightly biased"

Oh really? A guy who spent his own money to go see a show and spent his own time to sit down and write a review about the experience is slightly biased towards the band? Maybe you're frequenting the wrong website.

Anonymous (December 3, 2006)

"played the semi-rare B-side from their sophomore full-length, Frances the Mute."

Not to be a dick, but the term B-side refers to the other side of a 7 inch single. It has little or nothing to do with the LP.

tinner (December 1, 2006)

I went to this show too, on the second night. The jam was amazing and the drummer was unbelievable. I`d never seen them live before, but had pretty high expectations and they definitely exceeded them!

no-lolz (December 1, 2006)

OMgz LetZ WriTe SongZ ThAt go On aNd On, WitH inStrumEnts fiGhtiNg EAch oThEr, sOunDing liKe wE DonTt CaEe wHaT We soUnd likE ANd leTs oVerpRoDuCei it aNd plaY LoTS of SoLOs aNd SIng AbOUt StuFF ThAT loOKs LIkE It WaS WrITTeN By A SeaGuLL.

Dante3000 (November 30, 2006)

It's too bad this review will be down in a few hours because this guy right below me is awesome.
It's like "Douche, meet turd sandwhich".
-Dante

Anonymous (November 30, 2006)

Whoever said that they demand attention and try to hard is a fucking cuntface. They don't advertise, they don't promote themselves...they don't try at all fuck face. They constantly say "if you don't like us, don't listen to us" "We're not for everybody"

You ignorant mother fucker. Shut the fuck up unless you you know what you're saying.

Fuck you!

wyzo (November 30, 2006)

"what sounds like nothing more than a wall of loud noise."

ROCK MUSIC IS NOTHING MORE THAN A WALL OF LOUD NOISE.

idiot. what the hell did you expect? A game of bridge? Emo-bridge? Or is that Uno?

you can't insult a musician by telling him he created a sheer wave of reality destroying noise. He'll probably just thank you.

wyzo

Anonymous (November 29, 2006)

This dude said it perfectly:

"this band sucks live... a ton of people standing on stage turning knobs and playing the same chords over and over for incredibly long periods of time producing what sounds like nothing more than a wall of loud noise."

They're just boring.

Anonymous (November 29, 2006)

This band sucks even more than Thrice does now.

Anonymous (November 29, 2006)

I don't understand why a review being biased is a bad thing. The only way around it would be to just regurgitate the product that is being reviewed. That would be a recap or a summary or something of the sort, not a review. Some of the best music critics are totally subjective, most prominently Lester Bangs, and these days Chuck Klosterman.

GlassPipeMurder (November 29, 2006)

good review...i don't usually enjoy live reviews but this one was touching.

Anonymous (November 28, 2006)

sweet bro!

i saw them with red hot chili peppers, and you are so right about all the fucking douche-jock-dave mathews band-listeners, TMV deserves much more than those guys

JustinUCR (November 28, 2006)

what pink floyd song did they cover?!?

steveman (November 28, 2006)

Ryan! I hope you have been well.

Good review, the Milwaukee show was equally epic, although less jammy. Thanks for putting in the name of that new song.

Come back to Chicago sometime and party.

klonny (November 28, 2006)

They try to hard. They're all "PAY ATTENTION TO US. WE'RE CRAZY AND OUT OF THIS WORLD. WE'RE NEW AND ORIGINAL. PAY ATTENTION TO US."

Anonymous (November 28, 2006)

I do wonder how the amputechture follow up will turn out. Their first record was like Jets to Brazils, a whole new sound but with enough to remind you of their 'ex' band, the nwith each new record, it kind of 'settled', though both bands later records are good, I wouldn't mind a Jets reunion or 4th LP. I just wonder how Mars getting to that 4th LP mark will change things up.

wyzo

Anonymous (November 28, 2006)

Ryan, I loveee you!

Anonymous (November 28, 2006)

What's really sad is that this band has so much fucking potential, it's not even funny, but they'd rather just dick around for 90 minutes on stage. It's just....frustrating.

Anonymous (November 28, 2006)

Posted by kenjamin on 2006-11-28 01:46:37
My Score:

Score is for your user name.

YES!

i-type-poorly (November 28, 2006)

I think that sounds like an awesome show. So what if they play extended and unkown songs? Worried that the band won't see that you singing all the words and beating your fist in time?

Neill_Cawley (November 28, 2006)

Score is for the band.

-Neill Cawley
AIM-Longlivetheduck2

Anonymous (November 28, 2006)

haha i read your review on the coma already

Dante3000 (November 28, 2006)

So am I to understand Godzilla was not present at this concert?
-Dante

threechordsandthetruth (November 28, 2006)

I didn't even know about the new new drummer thing and I'm a fairly big TMV fan.. fuck. Sounds like the beginning of the end for the guys if nobody will keep drumming for them. Regardless, the live show sounds cool.

Anonymous (November 28, 2006)

coheed is better.

Anonymous (November 28, 2006)

worst band i've ever had the mispleasure of hearing

MikeStupid (November 28, 2006)

"One VERY cool part was when Cedric picked up a fan and started singing through it..."

I read that as the other kind of fan, and was disturbed.

kenjamin (November 28, 2006)

Score is for your user name.

Ike_Ness (November 28, 2006)

"Whatever," I thought, "I live in Japan. That's badass."

That would be great if you said that in a Keanu Reeves voice.

maverick (November 28, 2006)

A 60-minute jam session on a song that hasn't even been released yet?

I defended these guys for years, but seriously, fuck this band.

New album is boring, too.

-Scott

Anonymous (November 28, 2006)

so rhcp has a "jock heavy crowd?" i really, really find it hard to believe a mars volta crowd is really much better. so what.... if a bunch of frat boys put on a shirt from urban outfitters and black plastic glasses they're suddenly better? idiot.

Garrett_Fucking_Brannagan (November 28, 2006)

this band sucks

fucking pretentious douches

Anonymous (November 28, 2006)

slightly biased?

Anonymous (November 28, 2006)

this band sucks live... a ton of people standing on stage turning knobs and playing the same chords over and over for incredibly long periods of time producing what sounds like nothing more than a wall of loud noise.

Dante3000 (November 28, 2006)

however the,
"Whatever," I thought, "I live in Japan. That's badass."

Made me laugh out loud.
-Dante

Dante3000 (November 28, 2006)

I didn't get through the first few paragraps because it became quite clear that this review was slightly biased.
-Dante

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