Thirteen years seems like a long time to wait for anything, but if you are a Tool fan, then their 2019 album ‘Fear Inoculum’ was well worth the countdown. Hailed as one of their most ambitious albums to date and brimming with impressive instrumentals and vocal masterpieces, it was little wonder their string of Australian concerts sold out in a heartbeat. As the crowds poured into the vast Brisbane Entertainment Centre on a Thursday night, anticipation and excitement electrified the air and mutterings regarding the potential setlist echoed throughout.
Tool concerts are as unique and intriguing as their music, without the use of machismo, over the top showmanship or bravado. Instead, frontman Maynard James Keenan, guitarist Adam Jones, bassist Justin Chancellor and drummer Danny Carey, focus on delivering meticulously produced music, designed to envelop you in a sound experience like no other. From the opening chords, Maynard had the audience silenced in admiration and respect, and as their angsty lyrics and thundering guitars erupted, all eyes were drawn to the stage. Although there was a thin black curtain that projected only the band’s silhouettes for at least half of the set, the music emanating from the band was in no way affected. Kicking off with the title track of their latest album, ‘Fear Inoculum’, with the tribalistic drumbeats perfectly executed by Carey, Tool took the crowd on a musical journey that showcased a plethora of both old and new music.
Renowned for avoiding front of stage, Maynard’s performance in Brisbane was no exception and throughout the set, he didn’t step foot on the front of the stage. Instead, he performed from raised platforms at the back, or out of sight completely – his bright red ostentatious Mohawk a stark contradiction from his inward, musical self. At other times, akin to a human grasshopper, he crouched beside the drum kit, swaying, almost as if he was going to spring forth into the audience, or he would sit on the ground, legs crossed and his focus solely on his band.
To enhance the sound orgasm taking place, giant LED screens projected a kaleidoscope of psychedelic, abstract images and colours, reminiscent of many of their music videos. The combination of the deafening volume and energy of the band, as well as the hypnotising images that almost had you fumbling in the air to grasp them, resulted in a musical and visual feast that everyone was gorging on. ‘Schism’, ‘Vicarious, ‘Jambi’ and ‘Forty Six & 2’ showcased Tools incredible musical prowess and their ability to perform musically complex 16 minute songs seamlessly has without a doubt, contributed to their worldwide acclaim.
Given their distaste regarding the overuse of technology in today’s society, Tool had requested a ‘no phone’ policy. Rather than filming excerpts of the band and watching songs through the screen of an iPhone (seriously when do people watch those snippets they spent 20 minutes filming anyway), or checking their latest Instagram likes, people were forced to sit and absorb the music and the music itself. It was a gloriously refreshing change from the sea of phones that are often waved in your face, or having to endure people FaceTiming their friends whilst at a gig.
Following a short interval, which left enough time for the crowd to gather themselves and reapply their melted earplugs, Danny Carey took to the stage with an incredible percussion solo that left everyone shaking their heads in wonderment, before the band ripped into the earth shuddering ‘Invincible’, with riffs that were lifelike enough to smack you in the face. Allowing the phones for the final timeless classic ‘Stinkfist’, from their 1996 album ‘AEnima’, the majority of the crowd were too busy enjoying the moment to switch on their screens, which was just as powerful a message as their music. Tool are a band that continue to push the boundaries of music and how it makes us feel, they are a band that at times, are impossible to transcribe into words, and they are a band that take the experience of live music to another level, one that has to be seen to be believed.
Images (C) Lamp Photography