Tool US Airways Center 3/27/14
Initially, it seemed prog-metal legends Tool might be trying to pull off one of the biggest pranks in rock 'n' roll history or just going in for another cash grab when booking a just-completed short run of tour dates. After all, the band hasn't put out new music in nearly eight years, hasn't debuted any new material from the record that was reported as done after guitarist Adam Jones joked with a fan during a VIP soundcheck when the tour started.
But that didn't stop Tool's show at US Airways Center on Thursday night from selling out. And any thoughts that the band would be going through the motions on the final night of the tour were squashed the second it opened with the 13-minute masterpiece "Third Eye" from 1996's Ænima. And the sellout crowd of Tool fans knew it was going to be a good night.
See also: Tool at US Airways Center in Photos A reunited three-piece version of Failure kicked off the show and played its brand of influential shoegaze/alternative rock with "Let It Drip." The band had very little production during there brief 30-minute set beyond some rope lights on their mic stands and guitar cabinets. Singer Ken Andrew's voice filled the half-full arena at during "Sergeant Politness."
The mellow "Dirty Blue Ballons" sounded as relevant as any indie rock anthem the kids with beards these day love as Greg Edwards guitar lead was gushing with emotion. Throughout there set they had a camera a guy filming the set from the stage which was at times a distraction.
It was also a bit odd that Andrew's was playing bass instead of guitar and the absence of Troy Van Leeuwen was felt onstage. The Tool fans that made it in time to catch Failure's set unfortunately didn't seem to get into the band, and for some reason they didn't include their staple "Stuck on You."
Following "Third Eye," Tool singer Maynard James Keenan yelled out "Arizona" and the crowd responded with cheers that weren't loud enough for his tastes. "Sounds more like Texas," he then joked.
After telling the audience to "strap in" before launching into "Sober," he let the music do the talking for the rest of the evening as he hid in the shadows on a riser near the back of the stage. "Schism" followed while the music video played on monitors all over the stage and the band sped up the bridge more than twice its normal speed before slowing it back down.
The highlight of the night was "Pushit," which had the crowd looking like a bunch of awestruck drones (maybe it was all the pot smoke wafting through the arena), and drummer Danny Carey blasted through the speakers with beats that sounded as if they'd been caged since 1996. Normally an 11-song show for almost any other band would seem short, but it was long enough for Tool to take a 12-minute intermission after "Lateralus."
They returned with the King Crimson cover "B'Boom" and Carey's drum solo. After "Jambi," the band relied heavily on tracks from Ænima with "Forty-Six & 2," and the title track, before closing with "Stinkfist." Sonically and visually, the band was in top form, and even though it had nothing new to offer, the set list couldn't have been much better.
"Third Eye" "Sober" "Schism" "Pushit" "Intension" "Lateralus" "B'Boom" "Jambi" "Forty-Six & 2" "Ænema" "(-) Ions" "Stinkfist"
Last Night: Tool at US Airways Center
The Crowd: Dudes for days, as well as pierced and tattooed princesses, industrial music fans, rock 'n' rollers, hippies, and even some grandparents. (Check out our slideshow of Tool fans that were in attendance.)
Personal Bias: I once had an entire shrine to Tool on my bedroom wall as a kid. I've seen them on almost every tour they've done, but they lost me after AEnima.
Overheard: "They stopped serving alcohol after the intermission; that was weak."
Meanwhile: During the intermission, it seemed a quarter of the crowd hauled ass over to either of the arena's two smoking areas, probably calculating how much time it would take to smoke two cigarettes and make it back to their seat in only 12 minutes. The security staff was a bit overwhelmed with checking everyone's tickets, to say the least.
One More Thing: WWE ring announcer (and Valley of the Sun resident) Justin Roberts is apparently a member of the Tool Army, as he hung out with the band backstage and gave a wrestling-style introduction to start their set. Guitarist Adam Jones is reportedly a WWE fan and even proposed to his girlfriend at last year's Royal Rumble in Phoenix.
Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.
Like Up on the Sun on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for the latest local music news and conversation.