▣Mohegan Sun Arena | Uncasville, CT ▣Thursday, November 21st 2019
It was a sold out show at the Mohegan Sun Arena, for the anticipated return of one of the most influential bands in progression metal music, Tool. It’s been 13 years since their last release, 10,000 Days, and they are currently back on tour to support their newest creation, Fear Inoculum. Along with their special guest, Killing Joke, they created an unforgettable night of music at Mohegan Sun.
Large crowds and long lines formed outside of the arena when I arrived. People were waiting for the doors to open so they could purchase tour souvenirs. Tool is well known for having tour posters at their shows, and they’ve become a very sought after item among collectors. Tonight was no exception, the poster for the show was created by Miles Johnston, a beautiful Limited Edition foil of 400. Luckily, I was able to score one of them. Be sure to check out Miles Johnston’s art, link is down below.
No phone, cameras, or video recording would be allowed during the band’s performance, as can be expected from any of the other shows that Maynard James Keenan puts on. He is all about enjoying the moment without any distractions. It’s been a topic of some controversy because of the amount of money people spend on tickets, they feel they should be allowed to take pictures and record their favorite song. At the end of the day, you have to respect the wishes of the artist. And if not, well, the consequence would be ejection from the show, as I witnessed many times throughout the night.
80’s Uk band Killing Joke hit the stage and opened to an anxious sold-out crowd. This was my first time seeing or hearing of them, and the short three-song set that I was allowed to watch wasn’t enough for me to determine how I felt about their music. I will say though, the dramatic and intense stage presence by their lead singer Jaz Coleman, made you pay attention to their performance. Overall, an engaging way to start the night.
Right at 8:45pm, the lights went out for the start, as Danny Carey (drums/synthesizer) took us into the opening of Fear Inoculum. Shortly after, he was joined by Justin Chancellor (bass) and Adam Jones (guitar), as the crowd saluted them with cheers and a standing ovation. But once Maynard James Keenan took the stage, the crowd began to roar. For the next ten minutes, I got lost in my lens, and even though I could hear the music, the brain wasn’t registering, I searched for the perfect angle, but next thing I knew, we were being escorted out of the arena. Per agreement, all photographers would have to take their equipment back to their car or find somewhere to store it if you wished to come back for the remainder of the show.
I finally made it back to my seat during the transitioning from Parabol into Parabola. It was finally time to relax and take it all in. I was immediately blown away with how good they sounded, the stunning backdrop videos and light show- it was visually stunning performance from the start. And then, with a small intro, they went into one of my favorites from the new album, Pneuma. I just love the build-up from the drums at the beginning and when the guitars come on, it’s a total adrenaline rush for Maynard to take over, it was really just beautiful to watch live.
Loud cheers of appreciation filled the arena after every song, as they continued with Schism. For visuals, they would treat us to the music video in the background. It was intense! Vicarious and Jambi from their 2006 release, 10,000 Days, came next. Before they moved on to their next one, Maynard asked the crowd, “By a show of hands, how many of you are under the age of 30?” As some of the audience started raising their hands, Maynard continued – “You weren’t even sperm when we wrote this song!” Laughter filled the audience as they took us back to a song from their first release, Intolerance.
The singing and swaying continued into one from their newest album, Descending. I was hoping I would hear this one first hand, and here it was, so powerful. The music continued on, it didn’t’ stop there. The band took us back to 1996 with Forty Six & 2. At the end, the lights went out, the crowd chanted for more, and the stomping on the floor began. A timer emerged on the screen, counting down from 10 minutes. Was it an intermission? How clever, finally a band keeping you informed of what’s going on!
It was just enough time to grab a beer and head back. The counter was down to zero, it was time for the start. I was pretty sure they were saving the best for last. Danny was the first one on stage, and was given a warm welcome back. When he started to play the gong, I knew right away it had to be Chocolate Chip Trip – his instrumental piece on Fear Inoculum. This is when we saw how truly talented he really is. Between the drumming and synthesizers, the man is a beast! The sounds he is able to achieve, are just amazing, What was even cooler was the how we were all watching him on the big screen. He had a camera on top of him, but it was duplicated by 4, as if you were looking through a kaleidoscope. It was incredible to watch, a total acid trip.
The song would transition when joined by Adam for the beginning of Invincible. Finally joined by Danny and Justin, appearing from the shadows, Maynard made it to his stand, like a brave warrior leading his man to war. Invincible is one of my favorites off their newest masterpiece. Maynard puts it all out there and makes the performance so personal. The way he sang, with so much passion, it was beautiful. With the fuel created by the incredible drumming of Danny, the clean riffs from Adam, and heart stomping bass from Justin- you get it all, it’s perfect. This song is beautiful on it’s own but is even better live.
Maynard approached the crowd for the last time with a question – “Have you been good little boys and girls? If not, you’re an asshole…but if you were, you may now take out your phones and take pictures and record videos of our last song. SECURITY STAND DOWN! Let these people whip it out for our last one. Thank you, Uncasville! Goodnight!” Loud cheers filled the arena, as Ions started to play, combined with charging volts that appeared to each side of the backdrop screen, lead us into Stinkfist. By this point, everyone’s cell phones were out, as we all zombied out to the spectacle. The place lit up by 1,000,000 nits with the number of cell phones recording. We can record the last song, we’ll take it! This is our society now, we want to share our experiences with the world. The inner itch had been scratched. Thank you Maynard- thank you, Tool.
They couldn’t have picked a better song for the ending. Stinkfist – a fan favorite, accompanied by the video playing in the background, the laser show- it’s everything you would expect from Tool. The award-winning track, Grammy Award-nominated video, to me, truly defines who Tool is as a band. Their last performance was nothing less than mind blowing! At the end of the song, as loud cheers once again filled the venue, Maynard made his way down to salute his band brothers and waved to the crowd one last time before exiting. Adam shortly followed, while Justin and Danny hung back for a few minutes, throwing picks and sticks into the crowd. It was a special night at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
And I know I keep using adjectives like – incredible, beautiful, amazing…but it really was. The music, the unique vision, the concepts – it’s what we all have come to love from them. Thirteen years without new music. It doesn’t matter. They are, if not more relevant today, than they ever were. Like a bottle of wine that has aged just right. They are unique, timeless…they are Tool. When you put four extremely talented individuals together, what you get is nothing less than magic.
They’re still currently on tour, so I urge you…ask Santa for some tickets, get some of your Christmas money together, go pawn something, sell your dog (don’t sell your dog). Whatever you have to do to make it happen, get tickets to this tour. Best Concert Performance of The Year? Hands down! I put the remaining dates of their tour below. Don’t miss them! If you got this far, thanks for reading. Until next time!
A very special thanks to Monica Seide-Evenson for her continuing support, and to Tool.
Review & Photos: Carlos Londono
Check out the band’s website for more info!