For personal reasons that I shall not reveal in this writing, I actually avoided listening to any full album from Tool for 26 years. The first time I saw the video for “Sober” I was completely blown away. Not only by the music, but by the immensely creative stop-motion animation in the video. I absolutely loved it. But, for those “reasons”, Tool never became a band that I really dove into. I’ve always enjoyed their music when I heard it on the radio or elsewhere, but just never committed to buying an album (something we used to do in the 90s).
When Tool announced they were finally producing a new album after 13 years, I said “Well, this is as good a time as any. Let’s give ‘em a shot!” I streamed the album the day it was released on Apple Music and immediately loved it. I’ve probably listened to it 50+ times since last August. When the Atlanta show was announced, I had to go. I had to be a part of this. I spent weeks researching the band’s live performances, stage setup, setlist from prior shows on the tour, etc. I prepared for this show like a surgeon prepping for an operation.
While I had a good idea of what to expect, I could not predict the mesmerizing and intoxicating effect the music and visuals would have on me. Every minute of the show was an engulfing visual and aural experience. A lot of bands out there wow their audience with jumping, kicking, flames and fireworks. Armed with lasers and walls of screens both behind the stage and even as part of it, Tool lean more toward an experience that keeps your eyes wandering a massive canvas of captivating, provocative imagery. Lead singer Maynard James Keenan preferring to not be the center of attention, resides at the rear of the stage, atop a secondary stage in near complete darkness. You will not catch the members of this band jumping from amps or running around the stage, waving their arms to “hype the crowd.” Each member remains parked in their respective areas, almost seeming to not want to distract from the incredible visual presentation adorning the stage. There’s a strict no camera / phone policy for the audiences attending this tour’s shows, but I don’t think anyone needed to be told to not play with their phones. And, to be honest, when the crowd was finally allowed phone photos during the finale, it made those photos captured even more bittersweet and meaningful (yeah, that’s the photographer in me talking).
I can’t tell you what you will feel during this show. I can tell you that this was my first time seeing Tool live, and I am a new listener of only 6 months. Hell, I still haven’t even finished going through all of their back catalog (can’t stop listening to Fear Inoculum). But, what I can tell you is that even though I am still fairly new to the band, this show had a deeper impact on me than any show I can remember before it….and there’s been a lot. I felt waves of joy, sorrow, and even camaraderie with the other fans in the crowd. Tool fans are a different breed, by the way. The show was absolutely incredible and I wouldn’t have traded anything for this experience, to be completely honest. Tool continue touring until June and I highly recommend attending a show near you. Ticket prices have skyrocketed, and now I understand why. I was a fool for 26 years of my life. No more.