Picking up right where they left off with utmost grandeur.
Upon the arrival of the pandemic, countless tours were immediately canceled or postponed indefinitely. Among them was Tool's prominent celebration of Fear Inoculum, which reigned across North America throughout the later months of 2019 and was set to continue into 2020. With many left longing for their fix of the Tool live experience, the band announced their return to the stage this past September, raising excitement for the new year. The trek is now underway and we were among those privileged to witness their craft at the Honda Center in Anaheim on January 18th, 2022.
Like Iron Maiden's fans, the Tool army arrives early, though for much different reasons. Where Maiden's fandom fights for a great spot among the pit, Tool's listeners itch at the chance for the venue specific tour poster, which has become a huge draw from show to show. The Anaheim poster was created by Dima Drjuchin and, as expected, sold out not long after venue doors opened. Call it what you want, but the poster interest pulled many into the venue early to watch the opening act: Blonde Redhead. The trio's slow burning indie-rock was soothing and greatly welcomed by the thousands who swayed their heads with every melody. Their set was brief but apt in warming the stage for the night's protagonists.
Seats filled up quickly as Tool's stage began to take form. Shortly after, lights dimmed and projections filled the curtain placed before the stage. Tool commenced the festivities with the title track from their long-awaited opus, Fear Inoculum. The eerie opening notes chimed across the Honda Center, met by an eruption of the crowd as Danny Carey, Justin Chancellor, Adam Jones, and Maynard James Keenan took their positions.
Despite the tour admat sporting Alex Grey's artwork for Fear Inoculum, the show was more than a celebration of the new record, but of the band's revered discography as a whole. The extended version of Opiate came next and many neighboring fans could be heard singing along to the iconic chorus. Opiate's versatility speaks volumes of the sonic maturity that existed within Tool's ranks from an early age and the live rendition does it justice, each and every time.
Maynard, from his elevated platform hidden in the darkness, lets out the opening lines of The Pot, followed shortly by Justin's groovy bass line. This staple from the 10,000 Days (2006) era is the sole entry from the record, a formidable selection by Maynard and co. for the instrumentation it carries remains at the upper echelon of progressive musicianship. They then took it back to what many consider the band's best record, Ænima (1996), with Pushit.
The track is transcendental as it is, but the lasers, projections, and expansive lighting rig elevate this gem's power to new levels. Danny, behind his elaborative drum setup, batters away and further proves that he may very well be the greatest drummer on the planet. Adam and Justin rip through on their respective ends while rage fills Maynard's vocals as he lets out one final "It will end no other way".
Tool alternate time periods from track to track, taking things forward from here to the ethereal Pneuma and then back down to The Grudge. Interestingly enough, The Grudge holds one of Maynard's toughest screams to date and though he opts not to follow through with said scream during a show (at least from the times I've seen them), he made an exception for Anaheim. Maynard roars for extended amount of time and the audience can't help but rise in amazement. It's a definitive moment for the newfound energy that fills Tool's contemporary standing.
The assortment of tracks that follows is a testament to the band's breadth: Eon Blue Apocalypse, The Patient, Descending, and Hooker With A Penis. Aggression, patience, reflection, and every emotion on the spectrum filled the room as Maynard, Adam, Justin, and Danny excelled in prime form with mesmerizing visuals to boast. Music aside, the Tool live stage is a living, breathing organism that evolves with each passing track. The signature heptagram lowers itself above the performers and reflects images at its core as lights and lasers spread across the venue. It's a spectacle to behold as Tool's music spellbinds you completely. Each member has fun while doing so as well. With aviator shades, Adam riffs away and Justin's rocks back and forth, smiling as his bass mastery resounds across the venue. Maynard in his snarky manner remains in top form and Danny, as noted, is a drumming god amongst men.
Following a brief intermission, Tool returned and put the finishing touches on the memorable night with a trio from their latest full-length. First, Chocolate Chip Trip came forth and allowed Danny's masterful drumming to take center stage. This instrumental track has become a live favorite since its debut for its perplexing nature and equally perplexing visuals, which tends to be a kaleidoscopic view of Danny from overhead. Then, the emotive Culling Voices pulled on heartstrings with Keenan's moving vocal melodies. Invincible followed and closed the show in such hefty fashion through progressive build-up and earth-shattering tone. Adam's triplets drew headbanging heads in unison as Justin's bass rumbled underneath: a perfect way to cap off the event.
The sold-out crowd at the Honda Center exited the venue enthusiastically, reminiscing on what spell Tool just placed on all present. Joy was highly visible and should Tool return for another 5 nights in the area, there's no doubt that they'll sell it out once more. Their music, their persona, and their visual identity remain awe-inspiring, hence the grip they have on their audience. No matter how many times you've seen them, the Tool live experience remains entrancing in every sense of the word. Their setlists please fans both new and old and the band don't discount the opportunity of adding a rarity on any given night of the tour, as we've seen in the past. Shows this grand are few and far between, so don't miss out on this opportunity while we have it.
Enjoy a photo gallery of the band's jaw-dropping performance below and check out dates, tickets, and more HERE as the band continue the North American tour.