Gig Review: Tool @ Brisbane Entertainment Centre - Brisbane

Headliner: Tool

Support: Author & Punisher

Venue: Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Brisbane

Date: Thursday, February 20th, 2020

Review by Darren Hurford

“Tool, man! IT’S FUCKEN TOOL!”, was the rousing, unprovoked response to a question I didn’t ask as I stood next to people on the way into the venue. The energy and excitement were palpable as a genuinely all-ages crowd filed into the temple that was the Brisbane Entertainment Centre to witness our Gods. The last time I saw Tool was, well…..I was a younger man. But some of those men and women who were at those shows now have young boys and girls of their own. And bless them all for bringing them to this shrine to bear witness.

It’s hard not to think of Tool as a mystery wrapped in an enigma, shrouded in secrecy, covered in bacon and laced with LSD. Which is why when you see their live show and realise that the sonic and visual trip into another world that you didn’t even know existed is created by 4 mere mortals, you are truly witnessing something that pushes the boundaries of what humans can conceptualise, then execute.

Tool were indeed shrouded in mystery, as the night began with a giant sheer curtain around the stage as the California quartet eased into the title track from the new album, ‘Fear Inoculum’. As is standard with a Tool show, the visuals were synced to perfection, perfectly capturing and enhancing the mood of every song. Flourishes of fire (Pneuma), waves of grey water (Aenima), aliens with other aliens biting their face (Schism) and of course, lasers!

The musicianship not only between the band but individually is something to behold. The encore began with drummer Danny Carey standing in front of his gong ritualistically, launching into Chocolate Chip Trip, proving to be more than the band’s drummer but a true percussionist. Approaching 60, even from the cheap seats he still looks like a behemoth of a man, with fast and heavy hands laying down tribal drums that are the spiritual undercurrent of the music. Justin Chancellor on bass throws his body around his instrument with stamping feet, just in case you couldn’t feel the low-end pulse of his syncopated rhythms. Adam Jones gently moves around the stage, interacting with his band mates while he delicately plays the signature heavy riffage that makes you grit your teeth.

Then of course, Maynard James Keenan, the ever-elusive front man who’s not so up-the-front. Now with 2 small stages on either side of the drum riser, swanning between them at various points in the songs, his vocal chops are better than ever. At one point Keenan was sitting at the edge of the drum kit and for a brief moment I was giddy with excitement, thinking that he might actually jump on the “regular” stage and just belt one out with his bandmates! Alas, he did not. But such is the point of a Tool show. You don’t get what you want, you get what they want you to have. And it is ALWAYS more than you’d envisioned.

Seeing the band live, it is evident that Tool’s 27-year career is stronger than ever because they still FUCKING ROCK! The new tracks were truly a sight to behold live, with Pneuma, Invincible and 7empest leaving you gasping for breath at the end. The meticulously written, expertly executed, heavy progressive tidal wave of sound that are these new songs trigger something inside you that is chest-beating, teeth-grinding, primordial. Seeing the band rock out hard to old favourites like 46 + 2 and Aenima were equally as satisfying, whilst during Vicarious Maynard held the mic out to the audience allowing them to sing a few lines from the chorus. True to form, nothing much was said on-stage. A quip about the flooding and being “so close to the ocean and all….you never know…”, got a laugh, right before the sinister whispers of “hey, hey, hey” that open Aenima kicked in, followed by an almighty roar from the sold out 13,000 odd crowd.

I could go on about this show forever, as could most people. Tool shows are more than just a show, they’re an all-encompassing experience for the body, mind, senses, first, second and third eye. I didn’t for a second want to pull out my phone and record it, as the thought of boxing in the night down to a few 1-minute clips on a 4 inch screen which I’ll never watch again could never do it justice. Besides, then I’d miss seeing these true masters of their craft in all their honed glory. This band make you feel something. You don’t know what it is, you probably never will. But it’s so good, that legions of fans have patiently waited 13 years for an album and still come out in droves across sold-out international tours to show their appreciation.

Why? Because it’s Tool man. IT’S FUCKEN TOOL!

Best part: Seeing the entire mosh pit, front to back, heaving in waves during 46 + 2. Literally. Fucking. Everyone.

Worst part: Realising that the next time I see Tool I’ll probably have kids, and the band will be floating heads like in Futurama. Do they do ‘Kids under 10 are free’ tickets? Fuck it, I’ll still pay. We all will.

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