Tool at the O2 Arena
Some progressive rock fans might have faced a difficult dilemma tonight in deciding between Muse’s charity show in Hammersmith and Tool in North Greenwich, while many others would not consider it necessary to think twice, for this is the Los Angeles rockers’ first return to a London stage in 15 years. Even those who saw them at Castle Donington in the pre-Covid world came with bigger expectations this time, for an indoor Tool concert would be a completely different treat – but who could have imagined the magnitude of the show in wait. With a no photos policy strictly imposed on the audience, few pictures from this tour have surfaced on the internet, which actually made the show more heavily anticipated.
The spectacular feast began with the title track from the band’s fifth album Fear Inoculum, as the quartet performed behind a translucent curtain as if they were entrapped in a cocoon, a motif that would return later in the show when a gigantic fly head filled the backdrop screen. Guitarist Adam Jones and bassist Justin Chancellor occupied stage right and left in the front, while Danny Carey had his massive drum kit positioned on the central of three risers in the back. Maynard James Keenan – the frontman who’d rather stay away from the spotlights – took alternative turns on the other two risers, delivering powerful vocals throughout the show, so demanding a task he admitted how tiring it was “for a 58-year-old to play like 28” when addressing the stunned crowd before the last song Invincible.
The 140-minute show, including a 10-minute interval before the encore, consisted of only 13 songs, as they are all long complex pieces that require the highest level of technical skill to perform live. However, unlike some of their peers, Tool never indulge themselves with lengthy instrumental solos, but instead lash each other to top form for a colourful showcase of tight musicianship. Their music is loud, heavy, even brutal, yet full of soul, drilling the nervous system of everyone in the house with power equivalent to a lightning bolt, creating an explosive show without the need for pyrotechnics.
To say the visual effects of the entire concert are flamboyant is an understatement. The trippy images ranged from a volcanic explosion inside the arena with lava flowing all over the stage, to a black pyramid behind the band as if they were on a mysterious outer space planet. Laser lights doubled the volume Pink Floyd used in their later years, creating a fantastic scene which made even the ceiling inside O2 Arena part of the show. Meanwhile, additional spotlights on the ceiling shone down across the floor, taking the audience into the action. It was overall a jaw-dropping psychedelic experience which teased our brains beyond limits.
Photos: Miguel de Melo
For further information and future events visit Tool’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Fear Inoculum here: