Live Review: Tool — Nokia Theater, Downtown Los Angeles
Mon, 19 Jul 2010 08:01:02
Tool are so good they're evil.
In fact, it's probably illegal to be as mind-blowing as they are because no other band is even comparable these days. There's also no amount of flowery rhetoric that could adequately capture just how transcendent Tool's show at the Nokia Theater was last night. Tool proved primal, poignant, poetic and, as always, utterly powerful.
The lights went down and the voice of Timothy Leary filtered through the theater. His face popped up on-screen, and he repeated the lines "Think for yourself, question authority" over and over again. Seeing Leary's face coupled with his direct diction began the lull that Tool so intricately sparked. The band slowly sauntered to the stage in the dark, grabbing their respective instruments and immediately locking into the tunneling tumult that begins "Third Eye."
Guitar sorcerer Adam Jones churned out the song's warped riff flawlessly. He shifted from a jagged chug into a swirling psychedelic lead as Justin Chancellor's bass rumbled so loud the whole theater shook. Danny Carey conjured all kinds of percussive fireworks for the next 13 minutes, and Tool had effectively transported the sold out venue to a galaxy far, far away.
Maynard pristinely pulled off each and every line of "Third Eye"—and the entire set for that matter. As he crooned, "So good to see you, I missed you so much," there was a dark sensitivity emanating from the back of the stage that was nearly tear-jerking, especially coupled with the instrumental fireworks coming from his three band mates. Then, with a stomp, he exploded on the final refrain, "Prying open my third eye," and whether or not a third eye opened somewhere doesn't matter because the band were wide open.
He's a man of few words on stage but what he offered after "Third Eye" was more than enough. Keenan looked at the crowd and exclaimed, "Okay then…whatever's happening outside these walls has nothing to do with what's going on here, so for the next two hours it's all about us."
Cheers erupted all around, and after a dreamy guitar segue, the bludgeoning polyrhythmic riff of "Jambi" took flight. Jones fleet-fingered intensity propelled the song while Keenan's voice swirled in and out from heavy to hypnotic, often within the same verse. Keenan and Jones especially gel with the singer-guitarist mystique that whole movies—including Almost Famous—have been made about. The strange swells on "Stinkfist" created an ere of unease that matched Keenan's fearless screams succinctly, and the two could cause an earthquake of their own with the push-and-pull between them.
"Vicarious" gave Chancellor space to shine. His warm tone wrapped around Carey's percussive palette, bringing the song to heights of raw brilliance on stage. Videos playing behind the band at all times kept the senses working over time, and even for an LA crowd, it was impossible to start texting or screwing around with phone apps. Tool had everyone's complete and undivided attention with the sonic spell they cast.
A lilting harmony on "Right in Two" curled right into the watery grave of "Flood." With waves on screen behind them, Tool pulled off this Undertow epic with a whole new fire, practically drowning the building in an avalanche of polyrhythmic thrash riffs and rolling rhythms. After the eerie cinematic doomsday of "Flood," "Schism" proved a welcome reprieve, especially once the band blazed through a bombastically sped up bridge.
Before "Aenima," Keenan looked at the crowd with a devilish smirk exclaiming, "See, it all worked out."
It always somehow does when Tool's in the driver seat. As the final apocalyptic strains of "Aenima" coalesced into one last rumble, it was clear that the audience had witnessed one of the best live bands in history at the show of the summer.
Check out our exclusive interview Adam Jones here!
Were you there?