Looking back now, it’s hard to believe that it’s been 6 years since the last time I photographed Tool, but here we are in 2022. The last time was back in 2016 at the same venue in downtown Kansas City; however, at that time it was called the Sprint Center. Fast-forward through a bit of corporate rebranding and a global pandemic, and once again I am entering the hallowed halls of this venue to witness this enigmatic quartet perform on the latest touring cycle to promote their most recent full-length album, Fear Inoculum, released in 2019 via Volcano/RCA. After grabbing a bite to eat at the pub across the street, it was time to head into the arena, where lines were already forming at the entrance.
Starting things off tonight were Los Angeles-based alternative rock band, The Acid Helps, and as the name suggests, the group blends elements of psychedelic, stoner, doom, and metal genres into a dark and groovy vibe. Guitarist-vocalist Tim Dawson seemed at times to be channeling the spirit of Glen Danzig as the quartet performed their trippy set on a dimly lit stage with dozens of lava lamps to add to the overall ambiance of the presentation. You can check out the video for “Sink Pisser” on YouTube.
After a break to clear the stage which gave the capacity crowd a chance to hit the lobby, restroom, or just grab a fresh drink, it was finally Tool time. Dad-joke aside, the members of Tool made their way onto the stage one by one, starting with the local bad boy, drummer Danny Carey. Bassist Justin Chancellor and guitarist/visionary Adam Jones appeared next, taking their respective places on each side of the stage, as the band launched into the epic ten-minute-plus title track from 2019’s Fear Inoculum. Once the mood was set by the instrumentation, vocalist Maynard James Keenan appeared on a platform next to the drum riser. The stage production and lighting design for this tour are some of the best I’ve seen in a long time. The video backdrop spanned the entire length and height of the stage, projecting images of fractal patterns and other psychedelic visions, while the front of the stage was shrouded in a curtain made up of what appeared to be vertical strings which let the audience see the stage yet also allowed the projection of complementary colors and patterns to enhance the visual experience.
As mentioned previously, Tool is on tour in 2022 to support their album Fear Inoculum, and their set included six out of the seven tracks on the physical version of the album – the digital version includes ten tracks. Following the opening number, the band played through several longstanding crowd favorites, including “Opiate”, the titular song off their 1992 EP, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. Continuing with “The Pot”, Maynard would often disappear from one side of his perch and then reappear on the other side to continue with his vocals. I overheard several people in the crowd shouting to remove the curtain which obscured full view of the stage, and towards the end of “Pushit”, the curtain parted to the approving roar of the audience, revealing a clear view of all four band members. With the curtain out of the way, the lighting design was turned up to eleven with laser beams shooting out of every corner of the stage.
After an intermission, Maynard and company returned to deliver an extended triple-play of songs from Fear Inoculum, “Chocolate Chip Trip”, “Culling Voices”, and the finale “Invincible”. It was during the last number that Maynard told people to get out their phones to photograph and record videos of the performance. You can find some of those videos on YouTube.
Tool are a band you need to experience live to fully appreciate their stunning stage designs and flawless performances. Never disappointing, the band has perfected their unique progressive style over the years, crafting mesmerizing ambient breakdowns that build to powerful crescendos, showcasing each member’s unique musical virtuosity.
Check out photos from the show below.
TOOL’S “OPIATE2” SHORT FILM IS AVAILABLE NOW VIA BLU-RAY
BAND’S FIRST VIDEO IN 15 YEARS PREVIEWED IN NEWLY RELEASED CLIP
TOOL’s first video in 15 years, “Opiate2,” arrives today via RCA Records. A three-minute preview of the Blu-Ray short film is viewable here (https://tool.lnk.to/
“Opiate2” is a re-imagined and extended version of TOOL’s 1992 single “Opiate,” with both the song and video marking the 30th anniversary of the EP of the same name’s release.
Housed in a 46-page art book with behind-the-scenes and making-of photos, the “Opiate2” Blu-ray also includes interviews and insights from special guests. Visual artist Dominic Hailstone (“Alien: Covenant”, “The Eel”) worked with Adam Jones on the 10-plus minute film. The clip continues TOOL’s knack for merging the aural and visual worlds, creating an all-encompassing experience for the listener that has been a hallmark of the outfit since their inception. Hailstone and Jones also collaborated on the filmed pieces featured on the current Fear Inoculum tour.
TOOL also recently announced the arrival of Fear Inoculum on vinyl, with the Ultra Deluxe set arriving on April 8. The collection features 5 x 180g vinyl discs emblazoned with a unique etching on the album’s B-side and accompanied by an elaborate pictorial booklet including never-before-seen artwork. The limited-edition collection, which also features a new cover, is housed in a hard shell box. Pre-orders can be found here.
TOOL tour dates:
- February 26 Newark, NJ Prudential Center
- February 27 Buffalo, NY KeyBank Center
- March 1 Pittsburgh, PA PPG Paints Arena
- March 3 Detroit, MI Little Caesars Arena
- March 4 Louisville, KY KFC Yum! Center
- March 6 Columbus, OH Nationwide Arena
- March 8 Grand Rapids, MI Van Andel Arena
- March 10 Chicago, IL United Center
- March 12 Omaha, NE CHI Health Center Arena
- March 13 Minneapolis, MN Target Center
- March 15 Kansas City, MO T-Mobile Center
- March 17 Moline, IL TaxSlayer Center
- March 18 St. Louis, MO Enterprise Center
- March 20 Cleveland, OH Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse
- April 23 Copenhagen, DK Royal Arena
- April 25 Oslo, NO Spektrum
- April 26 Stockholm, SE Avicii Arena
- April 28 Hamburg, DE Barclaycard Arena
- April 29 Frankfurt, DE Festhalle
- May 2 Manchester, UK AO Arena Manchester
- May 4 Birmingham, UK Resorts World Arena
- May 6 Dublin, IE 3Arena
- May 9 London, UK The O2 Arena
- May 10 London, UK The O2 Arena
- May 12 Paris, FR AccorHotels Arena
- May 13 Antwerp, BE Sportpaleis
- May 15 Berlin, DE Mercedes-Benz Arena
- May 17 Cologne, DE Lanxess Arena
- May 19 Amsterdam, NL Ziggo Dome
- May 21 Krakow, PL Tauron Arena
- May 23 Prague, CZ O2 Arena
- May 24 Budapest, HU SportAréna