January 16, 2012 | 8:03am
January 14, 2012
Mandalay Bay Events Center
With Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan touring heavily behind his own project Puscifer, it was a surprise to hear Tool hastily announce a winter tour. It is approaching six years since Tool has released their last album 10,000 Days. Since California was omitted from their touring route, a trip to Las Vegas was necessary to see if Tool would perhaps debut any new songs.
A capacity crowd at the Mandalay Bay Events Center roared upon hearing the opening squalls of feedback of "Hooker With A Penis." Drummer Danny Carey was showing his support for the Los Angeles Lakers decked out in a Laker Jersey and shorts while Maynard James Keenan wore his policeman outfit replete with baton and holsters. Wielding his microphone like a weapon, Keenan barked out the lyrics as the band cohesively churned out the song.
Even though it was the second date of the tour, it is hard to deny the chemistry between the band members as they were locked in throughout the night. A deep rumbling of guitars blasted out your eardrums for "Jambi" as guitarist Adam Jones laid down one of the finest guitar talkbox solos in the genre of hard rock. Keenan introduced "Stinkfist" as a song about "fisting" that ironically had the audience all emphatically wave their fists in the air for the duration of the song.
Alternating between his walkie talkie microphone and stationary microphone for "Ticks & Leeches," Keenan led the band through the dense musical stew of Danny Carey's thunderous drumming and Justin Chancellor's spidery bass riffs. Diving back into their classic album Aenima, "Pushit" appealed to all the musicians in the crowd with its shifting time signatures and intricate playing. Chancellor was scraping his bass string behind the nut for his wall of noise sounds.
Chancellor shined once again for the sinewy bass line of "Schism" that culminated in a ultra fast breakdown as the video for the song creeped you out on the large screens above the band. Prior to the instrumental track of "Intension," Keenan gave a birthday shout out to Adam Jones. "Forty Six & 2" was another powerhouse replete with Jones's sharp guitar riffs and Keenan swaying back and forth while belting out the lyrics.
The feel good moment of the evening was when Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover of the Melvins joined the band onstage for "Lateralus". It reminded me of the time when I saw Tool open for the Melvins and GWAR at the Hollywood Palladium back in 1992. A swell of feedback soon melted into the ferocious ramble of "The Pot" that had most of the crowd screaming along.
Upon hearing Keenan's repeated vocal hissing noises, the crowd went bonkers for "Aenema" culminating with the repeated mantra of "Learn To Swim!" While there was a slim chance that Tool would play a new song, it was a superb setlist for those longtime fans. One has to hope that this tour will stir the creative juices for them to complete their next album.
Personal Bias: I have a Gibson Silverburst Les Paul.
Random Notebook Dump: I spotted Ron Jeremy in the will call line.
"Hooker With A Penis"
"Ticks & Leeches"
"Forty Six & 2"