Live: Tool In Arizona

Maynard James Keenan and Tool make their return to the stage.

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Primus bassist/singer Les Claypool is as hokey as ever during the band’s 10-song set tonight that starts with Those Damned Blue-Collar Tweekers.

As expected, they get the best response during tracks like Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver and My Name Is Mud. But however well they play, tonight was always going to be about Tool.

There aren’t many bands in the world who can refer to their fans as “insufferable people” and “retards” and be met with no repercussions, but that is exactly how Maynard James Keenan described Tool fans a week before the band played their only show in 2015 in Tempe, Arizona.

The band headline day one of the Monster Mash Music Festival in front of a sold-out crowd of more than 28,000 fans. Keenan has always had a sense of humour that seems to get lost in translation through the band’s heavy sonic assault. That sense of humour is on display in a major way tonight, as the band hit the stage dressed like Led Zeppelin and open with their lengthy cover of Zeppelin’s No Quarter. Keenan jokes: “Thank you, goodnight!” after the song. “The good news is, it’s fucking Halloween. The bad news is that we are not Led Zeppelin.”

Tool play material that they haven’t dusted off in years, like The Grudge from 2001’s Lateralus. Overall, they don’t actually stray too far away from Lateralus, as Parabol and Parabola follow. Though Keenan has always been the centrepoint of the band, it’s drummer Danny Carey who really carries them in a live setting and he sounds the most rehearsed of the four members on stage.

Not to say there aren’t challenges for the band throughout the 13-song set…

“So, (we) haven’t rehearsed this one in maybe, I dunno a million years,” Keenan remarks, and asks bassist Justin Chancellor: “Does it start normal, or are you going to add some kind of goofy intro to this or anything?” before they launch into Opiate.

Tool tease the crowd with a taste of new material, with the instrumental Descending, but it’s no more than a jam. Still, Forty-Six & 2 and Jambi follow, before Carey’s drum solo. Well-versed Tool fans know they never do encores, so once the lights go on after closer Stinkfist they run for the gates.