As the Izod Center of East Rutherford New Jersey filled up with smoke Wednesday February 1st, it also filled with the high expectations of anxious Tool fans, who had been waiting to see their favorite band play in the east coast for years. Though this tour wasn’t set to promote any specific album, rumors of a new album coming out in 2012 kept the excitement miles high as the lights got low. In single file line, Danny Carey, Adam Jones, Justin Chancellor and Maynard James Keenan calmly walked onto stage and took their positions as the room exploded with applause and cheers of joy. Blue lights pulsated up and down, illuminating the stage and then filling it with darkness, as the band took their positions. Maynard stayed in the back shadows as usual, rocking his Mohawk and shades. He typically stays in the shadows, taking the focus off of the individual musicians and on to the music as a whole. The expected and awaited “Hooker with a Penis” opener lifted the intense energy of the room, powerfully setting the mood for the rest of the show.
“Jambi” solidified the visual experience with the addition of Alex Grey art, and projected faces shifted into perspective, becoming fully whole in the center of the stage. Tool is a band that fully incorporates art into their show and it is as much a part of the show as the music.
“Jambi” was killer, but I think the turning point of the show was when they played “Sober”, straying from the set list of previous nights on the tour where they had played “Ticks and Leeches” fourth. Maynard prefaced the song with a few rare words that gave insight into the fact that the song they were about to play hadn’t been played in years stating that, “Based on the amount of aluminum we use in deoderants and food… or sushi, and all that stuff, we’ll probably forget most of it. Because we’re old. So if we start getting a blank look on our face wandering off in some direction looking for mashed potatoes, just remind us what we’re doing and we’ll get back to you. Thank you. And begin.” Right as Justin Chancellor let out those two first bass lines backed up by the ambient sounds of Adam Jones’ guitar, the crowd went wild, thrilled to hear a hit song that hadn’t been played for years.
The progressive aura of the song, and of the legacy of Tool itself was set when Maynard called out for DJ Will, who came out to the front of the stage for an extended suspension of the middle of the song in which he played around with electronic sounds that left us looking around in disbelief. Going along with the progressive psychosocial themes that are so often encompassed by Tool, I am positive that I heard the subliminal words “Take a picture. Take a picture. Take a picture” resonating softly under the experimental vibrating tones, along with a few other persuasive phrases that had my friends and I looking at each other asking, “Did you hear that?!”.
Although the attitude toward this set was mixed amongst the crowd, and downright rejected by some, I think it was symbolic of the band’s revolutionary approach to music, and highlighted an important facet of their modern musical development, holding to the radical standards they set for themselves in the 90′s.
After the calm interlude, Maynard brought the song back with a loud last chorus, finishing out the hit with a bang only to follow it up with a powerful “Pushit”, that really hit the spot on all fronts. “Schism”, another all time favorite came next, followed by a meditative “Intension”. The energy was brought back with the high energy “Forty-Six & 2″ giving us a chance to jump around and sing out the words at the top of our lungs. Danny Carey destroyed it on the drums as a bright blue and teal Consciousness grid appeared on the backdrop, growing in size until it loomed over him, breaking into little pieces of DNA strands, symbolic of the final shift in consciousness that this song is titled for.
In need of a breather after harnessing such energy for “Forty Six & 2″ the band left the stage to play a quick game of the Atari favorite Asteroid. Some were puzzled when the screen showed the words “Goodbye Frank”… It was only a foreshadow of what was to come.
“Lateralus” was really the show-stealer of the night. As the song entered its first chorus, multicolored lasers shot over the audience, caught in the smoke that had been piling up overhead throughout the night. About 5 minutes into the song, Maynard called another guest onto the stage, session drummer Frank Ferrer (he toured with Guns N’ Roses) who entered into a drum duel with Danny Carey! This explained the “Winner Frank” from the game of Asteroid, and what a Frank he was. The two connected in thunderous realms, and as the song creates a Fibonacci sequence on its own in Danny Carey’s drumbeats, my mind was boggled thinking about the mathematical implications the additional drummer might have for the meaning of the song.
Ending the show with a powerful “Ænema”, very fitting as many of the songs they played were off of that album, Tool left us desiring more with senses tingling, minds racing. This tour really was for the fan’s enjoyment, and was special because it was not a tour to promote any specific album. We did not know what to expect, and the fact that it was not a specifically purposed tour made it that much better and more relaxed. Hopefully the rumors are true and we will see a new album from them soon that surpasses even the best that we’ve already heard from them, but if not, I’m glad that they did this tour to take us down memory lane and remind us of the roots in which our love for the experience that is Tool were planted.
Written by Nina Wanerman
Setlist 1. Hooker with a Penis 2. Jambi 3. Stinkfist 4. Sober (guest DJ performance by “Bill”- played part of “4″) 5. Pushit 6. Schism 7. Intension 8. Forty-six & 2 9. Lateralus (guest drummer Frank Ferrer) 10. Ænema