[It was touch-and-go for a bit but photographer Andrei Chlytchkov got the assignment of shooting Tool when their Fear Inoculum tour made it to Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena on November 11. Text by L. Benny Sanders. – AC
The quote “I am light and heavy” was never more true than at The Scotiabank Arena tonight. Tool kicked everyone’s brains up to a higher level with a show that beyond what I and probably everyone else in attendance expected.
Believe it or not, one concert attendee who was there to see the opening act Killing Joke) suggested that the headliners might be somewhat boring. Nope.
To be sure, Killing Joke’s ten-song set was very satisfying. Formed in October 1978 (and reformed in 2002) in the Notting Hill part of London, their influence on bands, such as Metallica and Nirvana has been as much of a legacy as their music itself.
Lead vocalist Jaz Coleman and guitarist Geordie Walker have been there from the beginning. Bassist Youth (also a very much in-demand producer) was with Killing Joke at its inception and drifted in and out of the band over the years before re-joining in 2008 after the death of Paul Raven. Drummer Paul Ferguson, (also an original member) left in the late 80’s but has been keeping time with KJ again from around the same time Youth returned.
The set was, generally, a connected set of drones (the musical type, not the flying things) much of that from the touring keyboardist (Roi Robertson). When I asked my seat mate, Mike, what he thought, he said that this was the band he came to see, he say he really enjoyed the drone-y sound.
A group of three fans sitting behind me had told me at the break what they were waiting for from this performance. One of the guys (who was from Kingston) told me he was there to see bassist Justin Chancellor (the straightedge), a musician with whom he is thoroughly impressed. Sam, a Torontonian, just wanted to watch Carey.
Then the headliners finally arrived.
After the the KJ fan’s earlier comment, I was unsure of what Tool’s set was going to be like. There was a curtain seemingly made of metal rain surrounding the stage. Images began appearing at the back of the stage, and then on the curtain itself, curving and enveloping the area where the band was set up.
The visuals began and it was a wonder that the various projections did not interfere with each other. Drummer Danny Carey (basically a highly sophisticated jackhammer) opened by triggering various samples from his kit and then breaking into a complex rhythm pattern before the rest of the members were in place.
The guitar work of Adam Jones was nothing short of captivating…
…and lead vocalist Maynard James Keenan was the cement that completed the construction.
From the beginning of “Fear Inoculum” (with red, torn faces drifting across the hanging barrier and images hinting of flesh ripped open at the rear) the toolbox was in full effect. The set included “Ænema” and “The Pot”.
“Who are you to wave your finger?….Foot in mouth and head up *ss, So whatcha talkin’ ’bout?, Difficult to dance ’round this one, ‘Til you pull it out, boy. You must’ve been so high.”
Social commentary? Words to the wise? Stream-of-consciousness nonsense? Who knows. And frankly, who cares?
“Schism” proved that the band was amazingly close-fitting and the team of Chancellor and Jones, much like a well-oiled machine, but in no way mechanical.
Even from where we were sitting (16th row of section 108) you could tell that these two were having fun, and enjoying their time together on-stage. After a dozen offerings (all of them major hits for Tool) the concert came to a close with “Forty Six & 2” I was completely satisfied with the evening.
INTERMISSION (Yes, an intermission.)
The band came back with “Chocolate Chip Trip,” “Invincible” then “(-) Ions” and drove the final nails with an extended version of “Stinkfist.”
This, of all the shows I’ve been to in 2019, was likely not only the biggest surprise, but possibly the most gratifying The designer and creator of the light show was nothing less than genius. There seemed to be five different light shows going on simultaneously. The back, the front, the ceiling and the very air above (massive Orbs seemed to float over the musicians, though it was but an illusion) the band was spectacular. Excellent construction, amazing structure, phenomenal architecture.