It was a cold and rainy winter afternoon in Dallas, Texas as I turned on the street where the American Airlines Center sits. Upon approaching the venue, you could see the fans lined up at every entrance all the way down the sidewalks. There were people everywhere huddled up together trying to stay warm just waiting for the doors to open to get inside the venue and see a mind-blowing night of music from one of our favorite bands which is TOOL. They brought Author and Punisher with them to kick the night off for them as well. As the doors finally opened for everyone to start getting in and finding their seats and get some food and drinks you could see more fans continue to pour in the doors from all sides of the venue. As the patrons got through the security points, they were hitting the merchandise tables and lining up to get their favorite memorabilia for the night.
The first band of the night was a one man show known as Author and Punisher that is put on by a San Diego based mechanical engineer and artist Mr. Tristan Shone. When we came out to see him there was an incredible looking set of machines that encased him as he would play and interact with all the parts in the machines around him. He has been classified as an industrial doom band and sounds like something you might find at an electronic music festival with his drone and dub machines that he plays and get some truly astonishing sounds of. It was very interesting to see him work all the instruments and controls and he was turning and moving all around the machine encasing him and then you would hear him singing into one of the most unique microphones that I have ever seen.
Now it is the time of the night that we have all been waiting on and you could feel the excitement and anticipation building as everyone was waiting for the stage to be finished setting up and cleared so that Tool could perform. When we walked out to see the band there was a long white veil that surrounded the stage. Right before the band took the stage all the lights went out and you started hearing the intro to “Fear Inoculum” which is the title track from their latest record. Right away you could feel the sounds pulsing through your body and quickly after they started the lighting on the drummer lit up and you could see the incredible drummer Danny Carey sitting there getting things started for us. Following the lights showing us him you could see the rest of the band walking on to the stage with Adam Jones from the left of the stage and Justin Chancellor from the right. Gradually you could see a shadow with a tall the row mohawk walking up on the risers at the back of the stage as Maynard James Keenan approached his microphone to start performing the lyrical part of the opening song to get it all started for us on this remarkable night. The second song of the night “Aenema” took me back to when I was younger and hanging out with all of our friends in the 90’s sitting around listening to all the great music that was coming out then. Even though that long white veil still surrounded the stage you could still see all the members of the band walking around and playing their instruments. The veil made for some very interesting visuals as the lights and lasers were going off behind and in front of the stage from all over the arena. After the initial few songs of the night the lengthy white curtain started to retract from around the stage on a large track system high above the stage and you could clearly see the whole band at this point and as they were working the stage from side to side. You could see Maynard walking, rocking, and pacing around on the risers he was standing on at the back of the stage during the many instrumental parts of their songs. They performed many songs from several of their albums that spanned many years and as they were finishing up Vicarious Maynard started a little banter and communication with the fans. Maynard asked the fans for everyone there that was 30 and under to raise their hands and as they were raised in the air, he told them that when they wrote the next song, they weren’t even sperm yet, pun intended. They immediately kicked off into a song that was released on their EP Opiate which was released in 1992 titled “Part of Me” which you could tell was a crowd favorite and every person in attendance was singing with them. Tool followed that song up with another crowd favorite “Forty-Six & 2” which got the whole arena moving around and singing as they were performing it and you could tell that everyone was having a fantastic time enjoying themselves. The band members all left the stage and a giant clock appeared on the back side of the stage halfway up the screen and was counting down starting at 12 minutes until they would reappear and finish with an encore of songs. As the clocked neared the end the sold-out crowd started counting down with it starting at the five second mark all the way to zero when the lights went out again and then a lone spotlight lit the left side of the stage where the insanely talented drummer Danny Carey was standing in front of a giant gong sporting a Dallas Mavericks Luka Doncic jersey he began playing the intro to “Chocolate Chip Trip” and then swiftly went over to his gigantic drum set where he sat upon his throne and finished up that song and went into the song “Invincible” that is off of their latest album. During this song the extremely talented and amazing guitarist Adam Jones could be seen at the front of the stage playing his guitar and on the opposite side of the stage the super talented Justin Chancellor was standing there playing his bass with everyone in awe of their performances. When they finished this song Maynard told the crowd that song was called “Invincible” which none of us are and he said they were dedicating that song to the late great Terry Jones which brought us the Monty Python classic movies and many more which had passed away the day before. He followed that up by telling everyone that they could get out their cell phones and cameras and record that last song that is called “Stinkfist” and the crowd seemed to all at once grab their phones and immediately started recording the final song of the night as a little reminder to always be able to look back upon. The band started playing and the music video for the song was playing on a large screen behind them. As they finished up the song Maynard was standing in front of the drums and gave Danny a fist bump and then joined Adam and Justin on the front of the stage and was waving and thanking everyone. Danny soon joined them, and they were all throwing picks and drumsticks to the crowd and waving and gave a final bow to the crowd and exited the stage.
I would have to say that this was a great concert and if they are coming to your town and you were able to get some tickets before they were sold out consider yourself lucky and you will not be disappointed. I will always be a fan of tool and their live shows just seem to make you that much more of a fan. Especially when you get to see how extraordinary these guys are and how superb of musicians they really are. It was just like being a kid again getting to hear all this music and it was even better to see them perform it live and the whole show was an assault on your senses. Will most certainly be going to their show again when they come back to town.
Words and Photos by Craig and Paula Youngblood