For the band’s final performance of 2019, prog-metal icons Tool brought the Fear Inoculum Tour to Capitol One Arena recently. Known for putting on one of the best concert performances across all genres of music, Maynard James Keenan and company did not disappoint. A light- and laser-filled spectacle, a Tool show is a two-hour long sensory overload.
The excitement this year could not have been higher for Tool. After releasing Fear Inoculum in August, Tool’s first album in 13 years, the band shot back into the public consciousness. Loved by both fans and critics alike, Fear Inoculum reached #1 on the Billboard Top 200 chart in its first week. Heavy metal magazine Revolver just listed Fear Inoculum as the best album of 2019.
Opening the show on Nov. 25 with the title track from their latest record, Tool was greeted by deafening cheers. The slow, instrumental build of the song “Fear Inoculum” allowed for the energy to build in each and every fan, only for it all to be released upon Maynard’s appearance upon the stage a few minutes after his bandmates.
Despite painting his face and styling his hair into a spiky mohawk, Maynard James Keenan lurked in the shadows throughout the entire show. With his bandmates glowing in the spotlights, Maynard stayed perched upon his platforms at the back of the stage. Frequently hunched over with the posture of the Stranger Things Mind Flayer, Maynard spent vast periods of the performance crouched at the end of his platforms, peering over the crowd like a gargoyle atop an ancient cathedral.
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With a deeply devoted and ravenous fanbase, there was little that the band could perform that would not be well known by the fans in attendance. And while the tour was a showcase of much of the new album’s material, Tool fulfilled everyone’s desires with a good mix of fan-favorites and deep cuts from throughout the band’s catalog. Major singles like “Schism,” “Anemia,” “46 & 2,” and “Vicarious” were all performed to perfection, and oftentimes accompanied by their nightmare-educing music videos played on a giant screen behind the band. Deeper tracks like the song duo “Parabol” and “Parabola,” as well as the rarely played “Part of Me,” satiated the appetites for those who know the music inside and out.
With signs all around the arena, as well as an announcement that was often repeated before Tool took the stage, fans were made aware that no cell phone use would be allowed throughout the concert. With the vast majority heeding the warnings and keeping their phones tucked away, the night felt like the concerts before the smartphone era, where one didn’t need to bob and weave to try and see through a sea of Apple and Samsungs.
But at the end of the show, after the 12-minute intermission between the main set and encore, after the gong solo followed by the even longer drum solo by Danny Cary, Maynard James Keenan announced that for the final song of the night, “Stinkfist,” everyone could pull out their “stupid cell phones” and record whatever they wanted.
An entire generation has been born between the release of Tool’s two most recent albums. But if it happens to take another 13 years for Tool to release new music, the reaction inside Capitol One Arena revealed that the fans will still be ready to fully invest themselves into one of metal’s most unique and exciting bands.
Here are some pictures of Tool performing at Capital One Arena on Nov. 25, 2019. All photos copyright and courtesy of Chris Smyth.