The lights went down, at the near compacity Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, as drummer Danny Carey, sporting a Minnesota Timberwolves jersey, took to his throne. The crowd took to their feet as guitarist Adam Jones and bassist Justin Chancellor took to their positions and the journey, that is known as “Fear Inoculum,” began to pulsate through the arena. The stage was wrapped with a translucent curtain that projected images that circled around the stage. In the darkness, a mohawked Maynard James Keenan, took to one of the two platforms that flanked the drums, and let the crowd know he was there with his instantly recognizable voice. We had all officially been welcomed to the world of Tool.
The band is still in full support mode for the album they dropped in 2019 called ‘Fear Inoculum.’ The set was built upon the album, along with the title track, they took us through “Pneuma,” “Invincible,” “Descending,” “Culling Voices” and “Chocolate Chip Trip.” The second song in the set was the real gem of the night. A reworked version of the song “Opiate,” which was originally released back in 1992, has been given new life three decades later. It is a perfectly blended mix that still contains the essence of the beginning of the band with a heavy injection of where Tool is today. The rest of the set just touched on past albums, songs played were “The Pot,” “Pushit,” The Grudge,” “Undertow” and “Hooker With A Penis” that really got the crowd going before the intermission.
Watching a Tool show is like no other. There is almost no interaction between the band and the crowd. Only an occasional comment from Maynard, but besides that, the band itself, the players, almost become a secondary afterthought. The music being made on stage engulfs the venue and simply takes centerstage away from any anything else. Once that curtain was removed, about midway through the show, the stage seemed much more open and a very impressive laser show shot across the arena. Even with that, it was still the about the music and the atmosphere it created. People reacted in various ways, some looked like they were at a Metallica concert and were banging heads, some did the air-drums, an impossibility to shadow Carey, but some good attempts, while some just stood up with their arms in the air and eyes closed, letting the music move their body. This show didn’t have the pyrotechnics, fire, explosions and lights that left you blind for three days after the show. This show was about the creation of music. The other thing is the material they are playing are not three-minute burners that come and go in heartbeat. It’s like they are slowly constructing a building with each song and at the end, it all comes crashing down and they have to start all over again with the next song.
Tool are truly one of the most unique bands out there. They operate on their own musical plateau without any rules that adhere to many other popular acts. The fanbase supports them and give them full autonomy to create music they want to make, not what is popular or the latest fad. As I watched the band close out the night, I think back to when I first heard them, that iconic bass sound from the song “Sober” echoing through the dorm halls from a room down the hall. I had to know what that was so I pounded on the door to get the answer. I didn’t have a crystal ball, I would have never guessed that decades later I would be sitting in a packed arena watching Tool play and hoping for that song that got it all started, “Sober,” would be played, but in true Tool fashion, they didn’t’ play it. That’s exactly how this band rolls and judging by people tonight, nobody would have it any other way.