Tool turned every rock concert cliche on its ear during their show at Cleveland’s Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse last night — with one notable exception.
As usual, singer Maynard James Keenan was anything but a typical frontman, spending almost the entire show on one of two platforms behind his bandmates, crouching like Spider-Man during the long instrumental passages.
The band played behind a partially see-through curtain for big chunks of the evening. They also bypassed the standard encore-callback ritual by instead announcing a 12-minute intermission late in the set, even displaying a countdown clock on the curtain.
This contrarian approach also extends to Tool’s music, where riffs that would form the backbone of most band’s songs are instead used as climatic bursts of release scattered among their long, intricate and tension-building compositions. These distance-maintaining stage moves may prevent lesser bands from connecting with their audience, but the packed audience was fully focused and loudly appreciative of every complex twist and turn Keenan, guitarist Adam Jones, drummer Danny Carey and bassist Justin Chancellor offered during their 14-song set.
You can see the full set list and exclusive photos of Tool and opening act Killing Joke below.
Trippy computer graphics were displayed on both the large screen behind Tool and the partial curtain in front of them, occasionally in complementary or contrasting patterns. And while much has been made of the band’s efforts to curtail fan photography and video filming at its shows, it keeps the focus center stage, which is where it should be. Plus, it’s refreshing to look down and not see a sea of blue screens.
The band’s only concession to standard rock-show excess was the inclusion of an extended drum solo (“Chocolate Chip Trip”) by Carey. Since he’s approaching Neil Peart levels of worship among fans, it’s hard to imagine how or why they’d avoid this showcase. His importance to the band’s sound was reinforced by just how much space his kit was granted front and center of the stage.
Tool’s Fear Incoculum tour continues Friday in Pittsburgh, and is currently scheduled to conclude Nov. 25 in Washington, D.C. You can get show and ticket information at the band’s website.
Tool, Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, Cleveland, 11/6/19
1. “Fear Inoculum” (from Fear Inoculum, 2019)
2. “Aenema” (from Aenima, 1996)
3. “The Pot” (from 10,000 Days, 2006)
4. “Parabol” (from Lateralus, 2001)
5. “Parabola” (from Lateralus, 2001)
6. “Pneuma” (from Fear Inoculum, 2019)
7. “Schism” (from Lateralus, 2001)
8. “Jambi” (from 10,000 Days, 2006)
9. “Vicarious” (from 10,000 Days, 2006)
10. “Intolerance” (from Undertow, 1993)
11. “Forty Six & 2” (from Aenima, 1996)
12. “Chocolate Chip Trip” (from Fear Inoculum, 2019)
13. “Invincible” (from Fear Inoculum, 2019)
14. “Stinkfist” (from Aenima, 1996)