- January 15, Mandalay Bay Events Center
It’s been nearly six years since Tool put out an album, with only vague rumblings of an upcoming release, and the band’s show Sunday night at the Mandalay Bay Events Center featured no new material. It drew most heavily from 16-year-old album Aenima, but the fans in the nearly full arena didn’t seem to mind the nostalgia trip. Despite repeated jokes from singer Maynard James Keenan about the band’s being rusty, the moody, intricate songs were delivered with power and skill, and the blunt lyrics about the mercenary nature of the music business in opener “Hooker With a Penis” served as a pre-emptive rejoinder against those who think the band is just making a quick buck touring without new music.
The performance was strong enough that the motivations didn’t really matter, and including little-played songs like “Hooker,” “Ticks & Leeches” and the full version of “Pushit” indicated that the band was putting in a substantial effort to offer fans something new. The members of Tool have never been the most animated live performers, and as is typical of their shows, there was minimal band interaction, with Keenan remaining shrouded in darkness at the back of the stage. It was a jolt, then, to see Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover of the Melvins take the stage for an extended jam during “Lateralus,” which climaxed in a fierce drum duel between Crover and Tool’s Danny Carey. The pair brought more stage presence in their few minutes than the Tool members did in their entire time onstage.
But a Tool show is more about atmosphere than personality, and the creepy visuals and intense music were the real draw. Keenan’s voice was often low in the mix, and sometimes further muffled by being filtered through a megaphone, but that was in keeping with the aggressively egalitarian approach of the band’s concerts. The biggest disappointment was that the band only managed to fit 11 songs (not counting the seven minutes of ambient noise that preceded the encore) into 100 minutes, thanks to the expansive nature of their music. Even without anything new to play, they could have easily captivated the crowd for a much longer time.
“Hooker With a Penis”
“Ticks & Leeches”
“Forty-Six & 2”
“Lateralus” (with Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover)