Tool at Power Trip: a mind-melting, triumphant showcase unlike anything else on stage this weekend

Tool capitalise on their unique status on the Power Trip festival bill in stunning style

Tool live on stage in 2017
(Image: © Getty Images)

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The youngest band on the Power Trip bill by almost a decade, prog metal masters Tool are outliers in more ways than one. Using the massive screens as a kaleidoscopic backdrop, they never get the jumbo-tron treatment and while guitarist Adam Jones, bassist Justin Chancellor and drummer Danny Carey each get a spotlight, singer Maynard James Keenan lurks in the shadows behind the band, sporting a spiked mohican and all-but invisible to everyone but the closest. 

So, in short: Tool are business as usual. Anti-rockstars and alien in the truest sense, their set is perfectly pitched for the splendour of the California desert, the pink-and-purple hues of sunset just feeling like the light show has started early. Opener Jambi rumbles like a volcano about to erupt, juddering riffs giving way to howling solos and interstellar breakouts. 

And there are plenty of those throughout the set, meditative riffs teased out in tantric fashion for Pneuma, Forty Six & Two and Pushit, expansive instrumentals holding a surprisingly captivating atmosphere given the rock'n'roll and heavy metal hammering the audience has been subject to across the rest of the weekend. 

That's not to say Tool don't have anthems of their own, however. The Pot pops up just two songs into the set, The Grudge and Stinkfist popping up elsewhere to provide a heady mix of riffs and ethereal vocal melodies. Rosetta Stoned is a very welcome addition, a (relative) live rarity that becomes especially otherworldly with a Pink Floyd-esque laser display their betrays some of their more prog-tastic leanings. 

In a weekend that has seen top of the line displays of theatricality (Iron Maiden), rock grandeur (Guns N' Roses), heavy metal bombast (Judas Priest) and sheer, joyous rock'n'roll (AC/DC), Tool side-step almost all the conventions of the usual gigantic rock spectacle, and yet still deliver an out of this world experience worthy of any arena, legends in their own right and more than capable of standing toe-to-toe with some of the world's biggest acts. 

With a final thunderous rendition of Ænema, Tool set up the closing day of Power Trip with a mind-melting, triumphant showcase of just how singular their art is, a transcendental experience that surpasses genre boundaries. 

Tool Setlist Power Trip 8 October 2023

The Pot
Fear Inoculum
Rosetta Stoned
Forty Six & Two
The Grudge
Swamp Song

Rich Hobson

Staff writer for Metal Hammer, Rich has never met a feature he didn't fancy, which is just as well when it comes to covering everything rock, punk and metal for both print and online, be it legendary events like Rock In Rio or Clash Of The Titans or seeking out exciting new bands like Nine Treasures, Jinjer and Sleep Token.