The anticipation of Tool returning to Pittsburgh with all-new material was indeed peak, to say the least. Although the music release hiatus had been 13 years since 10,000 Days, Pittsburgh had been able to see Tool as close back as June of 2017 at Peterson Events Center. But PPG Events Center is a whole different ballgame and the inclusion of tunes from Fear Inoculum made for a doubleheader of goodies, including opener Killing Joke.
Starting off with the ten-plus minute Fear Inoculum behind a stringed curtain, the band launched into their signature tight sound. The acoustics were amazing with the addition of carefully placed speakers in the back of the arena as well as in the middle. making for an incredible audible experience. Add to this the mind-bending visuals that Tool is known for and you have the makings of a serious trip without the need of any substances. The band went into an “oldie” with Ænema from the album of the same name and Parabol and Parabola from Lateralus. Maynard, as usual, kept to the back reaches of the stage upon a platform dressed in punk regalia and adorned with a black mohawk and blacked out raccoon eyes. His intensity and singing prowess are hard to match as he was absolutely captivating even with an economy of movement.
The tightness of Tool is unquestionable and the interplay between Jones (guitar) and Chancellor (bass) is plain ridiculous add to that Carey’s percussion, which is arguably the absolute best, and the sound is downright mindblowing. They are certainly at the top of their game and their new music goes to prove it, especially since the new LP shot up to number one on the Billboards Top 200 chart on its debut. But of course the ‘older’ tunes are often what crowds come to hear and Tool did not disappoint with incredible renditions of Schism, Vicarious, Jambi, Forty-Six and Two, and of course Stinkfist. There will always be ones you want to hear, but in the end, it was a very good mix of their past and present (setlist after picture gallery).
Openers Killing Joke are absolute legends and have been around since the late ’70s. Their mark on industrial rock/metal is highly regarded and of course, bands like Tool took a lot from their influence. Metallica might have been the biggest to pay homage by recording Killing Joke’s “The Wait”, Helmet covered “Primitive”, Foo Fighters did “Requiem”, Fear Factory did “Millenium” and bands like Soundgarden, Ministry, Faith No More, Marilyn Manson, and Nirvana have all spoken of their greatness. The current line-up has Jaz Coleman on vocals, Geordie Walker on guitar, Youth on bass, and Paul Ferguson on drums, and Roi Robertson (of Mechanical Cabaret) on keyboards. Some of the audience may not have gotten some of Jaz’s theatrics but the music certainly won the crowd over by the end.
Hopefully, we will not have to wait 13 more years for new Tool and the next time they roll through town they will hopefully bring a legendary opener with them again. It will definitely go down as one of Tool’s best performances in this city and will take quite a bit to top it, which we know they will.