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Live Review: Tool

6 May 2013 | 1:08 pm | Brendan Crabb

The almost religious fervour that greeted this performance – absence of new material or not – would suggest this run was a success on all fronts.

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It's hard to think of any other band that's toured our shores three times within the span of six years, essentially in support of the same album. But that's the level of dedication prog-hard rockers Tool command from their rabid audience; a fanbase that's still patiently awaiting a follow-up to 2006's 10,000 Days.

Given Mohawk-sporting Maynard James Keenan's ill-health, the time signature-bending Americans clearly opted to select a two-hour setlist that best accommodated his strained voice. This meant culling Hooker With A Penis in favour of opener, Third Eye, for instance. The diminutive, enigmatic Keenan understandably conserved his voice on cuts such as Schism and withdrew from some of the more demanding screams elsewhere. Setting up camp next to the drum kit, his almost tribal-like, off-kilter movements ensured his presence didn't go unnoticed. Guitarist/art director Adam Jones maintained a subdued presence, but his striking and occasionally unnerving visuals remained a vital part of the multisensory experience. Bassist Justin Chancellor writhed and pulsated, often appearing as if his frame was compelled to move involuntarily, such was the pull of their heavy, hypnotic drive.

The grander production values extended to (the somewhat dull on record) Intension's fully-fledged laser display. Dynamic Forty Six & 2 signalled the beginning of the show's go-home portion; late, great comedian Bill Hicks would have approved of Ænema's venue-wide singalong and frantic crowd pogoing.

Stinkfist (dedicated to recently fallen Slayer axeman Jeff Hanneman) appropriately closed proceedings, its still-potent, groove-laden riffs and irresistibly demented lyrics uniting prog-nerds, sweaty young males and middle-aged guys in AC/DC shirts, while female fans left their seats to dance like nobody was watching. Pre-tour, Tool told us this tour was a chance to clear their heads, be inspired and remember why they do this. The almost religious fervour that greeted this performance – absence of new material or not – would suggest this run was a success on all fronts.

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