Entertainment Moody and hypnotic, Tool return to Perth after nearly a decade

13:50  15 february  2020
13:50  15 february  2020 Source:   watoday.com.au

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There are many preconceived notions that one has going to a Tool show.

Adam Jones et al. posing for the camera: The band Tool: (from left) Adam Jones, Justin Chancellor, Danny Carey and Maynard James Keenan. © Supplied The band Tool: (from left) Adam Jones, Justin Chancellor, Danny Carey and Maynard James Keenan.

It's moody and hypnotic, with the band famous for handing over a mix of epic yet downbeat progressive rock and alternative metal, and Perth's Tool show was highly anticipated and near capacity for the same reason.

Coming of their new album Fear Inoculum - their first in thirteen years - the band has recently taken the unusual step of banning mobile devices in their entirety, and it added to the Perth crowd's experience on Friday night.

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First up was Industrial Solo artist Tristan Shone, AKA Author & Punisher.

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Sounding like factory noise over a forceful dance beat, Shone had all the hallmarks of what makes industrial music unique. It was unsettling with loud bass drum samples and eerie metal on metal scratching noises with the occasional yell and scream, keeping with the template set by Industrial pioneers like Nine Inch Nails and Ministry.

Adam Jones et al. standing around a fire: American band Tool. © Supplied American band Tool.

After a quick changeover the stage was set for the return of Tool, althought it wasn't without their usual trademark aura of mystery.

Before the house lights went down a transparent curtain was drawn across the stage. While the stage was not completely obscured, it was initially very difficult to see the finer details of the show.

However once the lights cut off Tool entered the stage and were met with a roar of the capacity crowd, it became clear what the curtain was for; to catch the images from a projector synced up with the large video screen at the back of the stage.

It gave a 3D feel while also showering the band in psychedelic light, and it fit the title track from new album Fear Inoculum perfectly.

As they tore through the opening of their set, it was clear that Tool had gone from mysterious musos shrouded in near dark for most of their professional career to a bunch of rockers playing complex progressive music and pulling it off with ease.

The opening number was ushered in by drummer Danny Carey - at this stage a drummer of legendary status and tall stature, an imposing figure at 6'4 - who proceeded to tap out the opening strains of Fear Inoculum on his hybrid electric/acoustic drum kit.

Bassist Justin Chancellor weaved and jigged his way around the stage effortlessly and enthusiastically while guitarist Adam Jones kept a cool poise, riffing away while giving off a rock god aura a la David Gilmour and Jimmy Page vibe.

While the mid tempo hypnotic swirls and immediate riffs played out it was time for Maynard James Keenen to hit stage.

Donning red tartan pants, motorcycle jacket, Alice Cooper-esque makeup and a red & black mohawk, his familiar voice, often going from a soft croon to a sustained yell was in fine form if a little under-mixed at the start.

Although he could be seen atop a two meter platform above the stage, his presence was deliberately obscured.

There was no spotlight on the singer for most of the show.

Some things never change.

When the slow burning meditative trance of Fear Inoculum concluded, Keenan spoke.

"It's hot in Perth ... the rumours are true."

That was one of two sentences spoken by Keenan throughout the show.

His stage presence throughout the night could be described as rhythmic and menacing. Throughout most of the night when not at the microphone placed across two platforms either side of stage, he was in attack mode or squatting down, bobbing along with the bands numerous instrumental passages throughout their songs, usually clocking in at ten minutes a tune.

Keenan's Staccato heavy breathing, queued the next song, one of the nights heaviest moments, Aenima.

It's no accident this whipped the crowd into a frenzy; compare it to AC/DC playing Highway to Hell or Black Sabbath playing Paranoid second song in.

It's also worth pointing out how dark an arena crowd is without the aid of mobile devices, for much of the night it was as if Tool were playing to an abyss.

But that isn't to say it was void of entertainment.

The show's production is a colourful mix of technicolour lights mixed in with lasers, smoke machines and projected images, so when the stage light hit the audience at the front and side of stage it was like a sea of writhing angry ants moving to and fro to the grinding downbeat rhythm.

The newfound showmanship was really on display during Jambi from their 2006 album 10,000 Days, with Adam Jones, usually restricting himself to stage left, walking all the way to stage right to goof off and trade riffs with bassist Chancellor.

While Chancellor held his hand to his ear to rev up the crowd before laying down one of many bass solos of the night, Friday night saw the band feed off each other.

Although mostly stationary for much of the show Danny Carey's drumming extraordinary talent and performance was on full display.

But the best was yet to come.

The first set finished on Forty Six and Two, another downbeat, grinding epic from the triple platinum-selling Aenima album.

This time around the band let the tune play out while standing up, putting their instruments aside and letting the ending cadence turn into white noise.

The white noise faded out and the lights came on with a fifteen minute intermission countdown.

For the encore, Carey, wearing a number eight Kobe Bryant Lakers jersey, began his drum solo with a large gong set up on one of Maynards' platforms.

It focused on rhythm and power rather than flash or self indulgence all the while keeping with the Lakers theme, Carey's drum kit being surrounded by yellow and purple light.

The final two songs were Invincible, a lament about age wearing the inner warrior, and the big hit from way back in 1996, Stinkfist. A big finisher.

Right before wrapping up, Keenan said he hoped to be back soon. You could take that with a grain of salt seeing as it had been nine years since Tool were here last. He also permitted the mobile devices to be turned back on - to which about 20 percent of the crowd complied with.

After an epic, moody yet satisfying show like Tool just delivered, here's hoping Keenan and co don't take another thirteen years to make another album or nine to come to Perth again.

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