Tool play by no one else’s rules apart from their own. If anyone were to tell them which songs should be in their live set, they’d be roundly ignored or quite possibly dropped to the floor and put in a headlock by an irate Maynard James Keenan.
Still, we’re not going to let that in our way. After the band recently aired 1993 single Sober for the first time in nearly 20 years, it got us thinking: what other songs haven’t Tool played for ages that we wouldn’t mind hearing them dusting down sooner rather than later?
So we decided to risk life and limb by politely suggesting the 10 rarely played songs that we’d really like to see in the setlist on their current tour. Come on boys, make it happen.
Live airings of Fear Inoculum’s epic closer have been few and far between - it’s only been played live seven times in total, the last of which was back in early 2020. Granted, there was a pandemic in between, but the band have been back on the road since early January, so the omission of this destructive, psychedelic monster of a song feels just feels wrong. Let’s hope they come to their senses by the time they hit Europe in May.
10,000 Days (Wings, pt2)
The hushed, ghostly, Riders On The Storm-style build that the title track from Tool’s 2006 album is one of the greatest moments of the band's entire career. Over 11-plus minutes it shifts from near silence to a monolithic, galloping anthem, the perfect example of how to slowly ratchet up dynamic tension in music. So, why is it that the song has been missing from their live set since 2007? We have no idea, but we’d like it back in the set please, if that’s okay.
On the one hand, we want to hear as many Tool songs as we can when they play live. On the other hand, they don’t have too many short songs with which to pack out their set. One solution would be to bring back the sub-three minute Hush, from 1992’s debut Opiate EP, which they haven’t played since a stop-off in Columbus, Ohio on July 21, 1998 as part of that year’s Ozzfest. With its funky opening bassline, it’s one of the few Tool songs that can conceivably get a crowd shaking its collective booty. Not something you could say about Schism.
Is it the lack of Henry Rollins that has ensured that Bottom hasn’t made the setlist since 1998? The former Black Flag frontman’s contribution to the song is so distinctive that it’s hard to imagine it without him. Still, that’s way too long to have gone without playing such a fantastic track – hearing that crunching opening riff would surely get the biggest pop of the night from those OG fans in the crowd. Come on, just get him to do it via Zoom or something.
Ticks & Leeches
Unsurprisingly, Tool lean in hard on Lateralus when it comes to their setlists. But there are still songs that they ignore, chiefly Ticks & Leeches. Sure, the played it on the tour in support of that album, but it vanished from the setlist until 2012 – and it’s only been played once since then. We’re not sure why - its metallic chug is perfect live fodder, and the sight of Maynard swinging between bug-eyed fury and clench-jawed frustration would be a sight to behold.
Tool’s revered reimagining of the Led Zeppelin classic was played fairly regularly in the mid-90s, before being cut from the set in late 1998. It reappeared in 2015, then vanished once again early the following year. Sure, there’s the version on 2000’s out-take set Salival, but that’s no substitute for the real thing. Come on, lads, you’re playing Birmingham on the UK leg of your tour - that’s close enough to Robert Plant and John Bonham’s home town to bust it out just the once for us.
It’s been just shy of 20 years since Tool included the swirling, doomy Jimmy in their live show – May 16, 2002 in Vienna, to be precise. It would be worth them busting this one out if only to see what they could do with the accompanying onstage visuals. And then there’s the fact that the hulking, spiraling, mind-warping riff that opens the song booming from the speakers of a huge arena could potentially open the hole to another dimension. Worth a go at least, isn’t it?
Cold And Ugly
Unaired since 2002, Cold And Ugly is one of the more instantaneous bangers of Tool’s entire career. There is unquestionably going to be lot of the band's longer, more cerebral material in the most setlists, so this propulsive rager would be a fantastic counterpoint to those lengthier, progressive passages. Plus, we really want to see if Maynard can still hit that spinetingling wail towards the song's climax.
Another song from Undertow which has been left in the locker since 1998. The spindly riff that opens the song would definitely cause delirium from fans of the heavy stuff if Adam Jones were to tease it out all these years later, and that spectacular mid-section which sees Tool going all double-time thrash is an area that they rarely dip into these days. Admit it: you’d love to see Danny Carey’s kit buckling under the pressure of a bass drums barrage at the song's climax. Get it in the set!
Now this is properly obscure: a cover of a track by stoner rock legends Kyuss, from the latter’s classic 1993 album Welcome To Sky Valley. Tool have played it precisely twice, on March 27 and 29 in both bands’ home state of California. There are a couple of bootleg versions kicking around and, good god, they sound fantastic, with Tool’s psychedelic prog-metal dovetailing perfectly with Kyuss’ desert rumble. It’s a huge ask, but you never know.
Tool will play the following dates in Europe this year:
Apr 23: Copenhagen Royal Arena, DEN
Apr 25: Oslo Spektrum, NOR
Apr 26: Stockholm Avicii Arena, SWE
Apr 28: Hamburg Barclaycard Arena, GER
Apr 29: Frankfurt Festhalle, GER
May 02: Manchester AO Arena, UK
May 04: Birmingham Resorts World Arena, UK
May 06: Dublin 3Arena, IRE
May 09: London The O2 Arena, UK
May 10: London The O2 Arena, UK
May 12: Paris AccorHotels Arena, FRA
May 13: Antwerp Sportpaleis, BEL
May 15: Berlin Mercedes-Benz Arena, GER
May 17: Cologne Lanxess Arena, GER
May 19: Amsterdam Ziggo Dome, HOL
May 21: Krakow Tauron Arena, POL
May 23: Prague O2 Arena, CZE
May 24: Budapest SportAréna, HUN