Finally following years of anticipation, progressive rock giants Tool released their new album ‘Fear Inoculum’ receiving overwhelming critical praise. When the fall tour was announced, the venues quickly sold out. After their Aftershock Festival appearance Saturday night, the band kicked off the North American trek in illustrious fashion Tuesday night at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.
After the band assembled one by one onstage, drummer Danny Carey, guitarist Adam Jones, bassist Justin Chancellor, and vocalist Maynard James Keenan surged into the title track “Fear Incoculum.” This opening song was an excellent start blending their signature battering guitar riffs contrasting with the soft and slow shifting rhythms. After a small pause and loud greeting from Keenan, the crowd cheered loudly as they erupted into “Ænema” followed up with “The Pot.” As the set evolved two new songs were perfectly interposed including “Pneuma”, and the crunchy “Invincible.”
The stage production continues to be an important part of a bands live experience. Like pasts tours Keenan and Carey are postponed in the back on elevated platforms, while Jones and Chancellor stand in the front. Keenan wearing a mohawk and Joker inspired makeup, stayed back in the shadows but could seen in silhouette stalking the platform like a boxer who feels out his opponent. The concept of seven is a recurring them throughout ‘Fear Inoculum’ and they carry that into the stage visuals. There was a seven sided star that during certain songs rotates and evolves into the central focus. The triptych LED screen behind the band enhanced the performance beautifully integrating animations and stop motion graphics during each song.
Tool closed out the set with “Vicarious”, “Intolerance”, and “Forty Six & Two” before taking a short intermission and finishing the night off with “Stinkfist.”
Tool gets a lot of unjust criticism for a “no phone” policy during their live shows. I think it is rather refreshing to look into the crowd and see darkness. The audience is focused on the atmosphere and the music instead of people staring at their phones and not paying attention.
Even after a thirteen year break between albums, Tool continues to take the fans on unexpexted spiritual musical journeys.