Photos by Neil Van
Los Angeles quartet Tool brought their fifth album Fear Inoculum for the first of two shows at the Scotiabank Arena last night. The album comes 13 years after the previous 10,000 Days so the event was easily awaited by their rabid fanbase that were undeterred by the early snowfall. I will say I’ve never seen longer lines for merch at any gig I’ve ever been to. Ever.
I saw Tool back in 1993 at the Reading Festival in England. They were one of the first bands to open up the three day festival. I was into their Opiate EP but their set just didn’t do anything for me so they just ceased to exist to me until last night when I figured I should just quit holding grudges.
I will say I was mightily impressed by the band as they delivered over two hours of music in what seemed like an hour. They opened up their set with the title track of the new album, filling the packed arena with sound so immense I scanned the stage in vain looking for additional band members. Guitarist Adam Jones and bassist Justin Chancellor held the fort at the front of the stage while singer Maynard James Keenan took up space toward the back of the stage alternating on platforms that flanked drummer Danny Carey, one of the most impressive drummers I’ve seen in some time.
Visually the show was one of the most stunning I’ve seen. They started with a sheer curtain that wrapped the front of the stage like a cocoon that worked to make the projections that more dazzling, and they were dazzling, especially that first song and towards the end of the evening. The curtain would be pulled back allowing everyone in and eliciting a loud wail of approval.
The packed crowd just ate it up, playing air-guitar, banging heads and roaring in between songs. With a strict no cellphone policy that was enforced with security raining down aisles looking for any phones, the crowd was liberated to actually enjoy the show.
All five albums were touched on during the set with focus obviously on Fear Inoculum. Sadly for myself, they didn’t touch Opiate.
Curtain was drawn out again for the last song of the set before the band left the stage with a timer on the curtain counting down the 15 minutes – an encore, intermission, who knows? They returned, or at least Danny Carey did with an impressive display of his talents, which were just as immense as the sound the entire band delivered.
In the end, I’m so glad I decided to check them out again and I’m sorry I avoided seeing or listening to Tool for 26 years. I won’t miss them the next time they return to town.
Opening the night were British legends Killing Joke, who proved why they were worthy openers over a 45 minute set that focused on their eponymous 1980 album. The sound didn’t treat them too well with first half being plagued by bass that just overwhelmed. Still they looked and sounded great and were very appreciative to the modest response for whoever was not in line for the Tool merchandise.