photos by Vito Ingerto
In what has become an annual ritual, the Tool Army and Navy came out in droves to the Xcel Energy Center Halloween night to experience true rock monsters. Apparently, you can still fill the X with only one album every 20 years. That can only happen when your albums hit as hard as Tool albums do.
Supporting Tool was one man band Steel Beans. You’ve gotta have steel beans to open for Tool, and Jeremy DeBardi certainly did. Kinda retro sounding, Beans had mad chops on the guitar, while also playing keyboards and drums. And it was loud. If it wasn’t for his amazing command of the fretboard, it would have hard to tell at times whether this was a serious act or just schtick. The crowd did seem to be engaged for his roughly 1/2 hour set.
With the lights down, spotlights illuminated drummer Danny Carey’s large kit at the rear center of the stage. Large faces moved across the video screens at the back of the stage. These screens would get a workout through the show. As more light was shed on the stage, guitarist Adam Jones and bassist Justin Chancellor appeared on either side of the drum riser. The band was obviously in the Halloween sprit, Carey and Chancellor were sporting fake nose and glasses and Jones had some face paint and mirror sunglasses.As the band launched into their opener “Fear Inoculum” , Maynard James Keenan slithered out of the murk, appearing on a riser in the back of the stage sporting a mohawk and much makeup, wearing a vest and tie, looking like a deranged Wall Street banker. Keenan also sported the fake nose and glasses, He planted himself on the two platforms stage left and right of the drums, in the dark, for most of the 2 hour set, as the band pounded the audience with tunes from almost every album. He did come down during the first tune to toss a bunch of fake nose and glasses to the crowd. Thought the set on Tuesday night was really heavy with tunes from the latest release. The band took us to the edge with sinister sounds and shocking videos that were both science fiction and psychedelic. Maynard was really a background figure for most of the show, as most of the tunes went into the 10 minute mark. In an ominous display of musicianship, Carey, Chancellor and Jones filled the X with otherworldly sounds. Jones is just a savage on guitar, his staccato rhythms and less is more leads creating an massive atmosphere as the lasers stabbed the audience. Yes this set was extremely laser heavy. No cell phones were allowed, and we were only allowed to shoot the first song. Fortunately, it was the 8+ minute “Fear Inoculum”, and truth be told that 8 minutes went by in a blink. It’s the blend of heavy metal prog rock intimidation that draws the crowd of loyal, diehard fans. We were happily overpowered for 2 plus hours with killer tunes like “Pneuma”, “The Grudge” and “Swamp Song”. The sound was breathtaking in its clarity. The lasers added an otherworldly atmosphere when mixed with the fog.
There was an short intermission, then Danny Carey performed a drum solo called “Chocolate Chip Trip”. The rest of the band came back out for a mellow version of “Culling Voices” before the band got right back to splitting eardrums with “Invincible. The night ended with the band exiting the stage to Abba’s “Dancing Queen.
Tool showed that they can still bring the sophisticated destruction that has them still solidly placed at the forefront of rock.