In my 23 years of being a TOOL fan and having seen the band live eight times, I can confidently state that the Fear Inoculum Tour harboured their best performance I’ve ever been fortunate enough to experience. And an experience it was.
The colourfully vibrant visual effects rocked the senses beyond that of any previous concert. Mind bending projections and lasers engulfed the backdrop. Moving lighting rigs pulsed like the music’s heartbeat. And an innovative use of ropes that performed like a transparent screen between the crowd and the stage offered a level of depth that perfectly matched the depth of what I call TOOL’s rock symphonies. After many years of evolution, TOOL’s show has finally become a cohesive unit to make one of the most complete concert experiences ever.
The only downfall would have been for anyone at extreme viewing angles. Since the visually captivating effects are designed from a front-and-centre vantage point, experiencing what the light and stage technicians intended would require a seat from approximately somewhere in front of the stage. The difference between a head-on view and what the people saw at those extreme angles is the difference between just watching and truly experiencing the show.
Danny Carey was tight as hell, hitting every beat and carrying the tempo on his shoulders as only a man of his stature and ability can. As one of the best drummers in the world today, Carey had no problem executing with pinpoint precision for the entire length of the set.
Justin Chancellor’s bass didn’t just add subterranean frequencies, it packaged and air mailed them via a drop kick directly to your chest. To hear a slappy bass or just a low end can be a treat, but Chancellor took the instrument’s potential to a new level.
Adam Jones’ guitar sang every song like Luciano Pavarotti, absolutely nailing all intended notes, noises, and nuances. His artistic creativity was on full display and we as adoring fans lapped it up gratefully.
Maynard was… well… Maynard. Thunderous vocals, angelic melodies, strange animal like movements made him the icing on the TOOL cake.
TOOL covered songs from every album, save for Undertow, providing a more than acceptable cross-section of their musical catalogue. However, the final song, Stinkfist, was preceded by something not normally seen at TOOL’s shows. Maynard allowed everyone to take out their phones, even jokingly calling for the security to “stand down”. Unfortunately, the irony was probably lost on the majority of the audience, since the song is about the ongoing cycle of boredom and stimulus. Nevertheless, fans itching to use their little digital comfort rectangles didn’t hesitate to whip them out and film the entire closer.
While they were busy screwing around with zooming, getting a steady shot, and optimizing their audio, none of which would ever do it justice, magic was unfolding before their very eyes, as was something else.
The way the band left the stage felt almost like a farewell. Since the new album is advertised as the culmination of TOOL’s evolutionary music, it’s only fitting for this to be the final tour, with all the members open to go on to whatever other projects they’d like. While I hope this isn’t the case, there was an overwhelming feeling of closure.
TOOL may very well be done, but the music, the community, and the inspiration of their art will live on. Who knows? Maybe they’ll release a new album in 20 years called “Afterlife” or maybe not.
Cheers to Danny, Adam, Justin, and Maynard for all the great music, and to the stage, lighting, and sound crew for the absolutely mind blowing experience.