Chris Loomis

Tool @ Viejas Arena – 01/12/2020

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Progressive Metal juggernauts Tool kicked off 2020 with two shows in San Diego, the first on Friday January 10 which had the band pay tribute to Rush’s Neil Peart whose passing was announced earlier that day. On Sunday night January 12, the Tool Army showed up for a SOLD-OUT show at the SDSU based Viejas Arena as the band delivered a 2-hour masterpiece of a show. Tool is out on the road once again supporting their critically acclaimed 5th full length studio album Fear Inoculum released back in August 2019.

The Tool live experience is one to soon not be forgotten as along with the music, the band creates a visual journey through each song with large video screens and lasers while the band members (especially vocalist Maynard James Keenan) has little to no stage lights directly on them allowing for the fans to fully absorb the live surrounding without focusing on the band members themselves. The band played four songs from the new album starting with the set opener “Fear Inoculum”, then into “Ænema”. Keenan was his ever-elusive self, prowling the riser behind the stage on each side of the drumkit. With a very spikey mohawk and blacked out eyes he belted out his lyrics sounding more magnificent than ever.

Center stage and tucked behind a wall of drums, percussive magician Danny Carey put on a master display of progressive drumming like none other (except maybe the late Neil Peart – RIP). Carey along with bass player Justin Chancellor are one of if not the premier rhythm sections in heavy music as his thunderous bass is a standout in every Tool song. Guitarist Adam Jones adds his many unique guitar techniques completing Tool’s trademark sound with a highlight being his “talk-box” solo during “Jambi”. The result of all this is a distinctive sound resulting from unique time patterns and experimental/non-traditional approach to their instruments topped with emotional and anger driven lyrics.

Every song was a highlight during this performance and one of the most enjoyable aspects of the show was the strict no camera/video policy. Signs and announcements made, stated that all cell phones were to be put away during the show or attendees risked being removed from the venue. Most obliged to this request and it was refreshing to see everyone living in the moment instead of watching the show through their phones. Kudos to Tool for this approach to their live show.

Keenan did not speak much and let the music do the talking. Prior to playing “Part of Me”, he asked the San Diego crowd who was 30 yrs old or under and then stated the song was created before anyone with their hand raised was even a mere sperm cell. After the pummeling of “Forty Six & 2”, a three song encore consisted of Carey’s drum solo – “Chocolate Chip Trip”, “Invincible” then the last song “Stinkfist”. 2020 has Tool as one of the elite live bands performing today and they again left their mark on the San Diego capacity crowd at Viejas Arena.

Opening the show was the San Diego based one man industrial band Author & Punisher. Tristan Shone has personally made a “Mad Max” type music instrument that he creates some amazing sounds with. Coupled with a flashy light show, this one man band was the perfect Tool opener.

Tool Set List:Fear Inoculum | Ænema | The Pot | Parabol | Parabola | Pneuma | Schism | Jambi | Merkaba | Vicarious | Part of Me | Forty Six & 2

Encore: Chocolate Chip Trip | Invincible | Stinkfist

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