On Halloween night, at the Xcel Center in the heart of Minnesota’s capital city, the legendary band, Tool, left a mark on the memories of every metalhead in attendance. Vocalist Maynard James Keenan, guitarist Adam Jones, bassist Justin Chancellor, and drummer Daney Carey mix musical talent, frequently jarring visuals, and an aura of doom to bring their fans one of the best performances in the metal world. Since it was Halloween, the band comically emerged onto the stage wearing Groucho Marx glasses.
Tool opened with “Fear Inoculum.” Everything stayed pretty chill during this first song. The smoke and visuals only extenuated the vibe in the area as the anticipation for more grew inside every attendee. Next were three back-to-back songs from their 2006 album, “10,000 Days.” It’s hard to believe that album was released seventeen and a half years ago. Many fans were singing along to “Jambi” and “The Pot,” while everyone was captivated by the thunderous drumming and eerie guitar solos of “Rosetta Stoned.”
The band took advantage of the opportunity to support their latest album, “Fear Inoculum,” as they played six of its seven tracks. Along with the aforementioned title track opener, was the slower-paced, “Culling Voices,” the groovy-banger, “Invincible,” and the band’s 2020 single, “Pneuma.” They also played one of my favorites, “Descending,” which ironically ascends musically throughout the song. It starts slow and quiet but continues to build into a grand anthemic end. Maynard kept to the shadows during most of the set, never acting like a typical frontman, but his emotional vocal performance filled the arena and often sent chills up my spine.
While a drummer is always an important piece to any band, Daney Carey is vital to Tool’s sound and it was evident during “Chocolate Chip Trip,” the first song after a twelve-minute intermission. Carey was the only band member who was in the spotlight during the entire show. Many drummers may take a minute or two to impress a crowd with a drum solo, but Carey kept the whole arena captivated by his flawless drumming despite odd time signatures and rhythms. Adam Jones sounded great on the guitar but my favorite, however, is hearing Justin Chancellor on bass. Tool’s unique bass has always captivated me, and hearing “The Grudge” performed live is out of this world.
The graphics on the screen behind the stage and the ever-moving lights were incredible. The lasers would often paint the ceiling and backside of the Xcel Center. Audibly, the show was already a phenomenal experience but having the visual effects accompany hit after hit simply felt like a cherry on top. The band closed their set with a Swamp Song,” a deep cut from their debut album, “Undertow.” It amazes me that every band in existence will close their set with their biggest hit, but Tool can close with a song that has only been played live a few dozen times since the mid-nineties, and fans leave completely satisfied. Always remember that if you attend a Tool concert, you aren’t simply watching or hearing a metal band, you’re receiving an experience no other band can offer.