There comes a time for each of us concert going weirdos when something is announced and it’s so huge and so important, there’s no way to back out of it. You empty the bank and say fuck it, responsibilities be damned. So when it was first announced that enigmatic and legendary Tool definitely ARE making a new album following their now ancient “10,000 Days” (which definitely took less than that as it was theorized back in the day), the hype-meter went through the roof. Surely they will do some European shows now, I thought to myself! It’s been ages since anyone around here had a chance to see them (and for a lot, that remained a “chance” only).
It was around the late autumn of last year when this whole timeline finally exploded, Tool announced European dates for 2019. What the..! Well finally, took them a while. I missed them when they played in Belgrade in 2007 and I was NOT going to let that happen to me again. Fortunately or not, Vienna was the closest option and, having never watched a concert there before, I made sure to be there no matter what!
Fast forward to a few days ago when I read there would be a band playing before them. I may or may not have heard about that much before, acknowledged and forgot because I honestly didn’t and couldn’t care. Which is a bit sad in hindsight so hear me out.
The band in question, Fiend from Paris, France, took the stage in front of a mildly filled venue. If you look these guys up, the omniscient Youtube will point you to a channel you probably heard of, “The Stoned Meadow of Doom”, and I’m gonna stop here. If you don’t know, search for it. Fiend were great, good riffs, powerful vocals, even prog shenanigans thrown in the mix, you name it. As a standalone show, very good. Sad thing, likely nobody came to see them, as good as they are, they played their part and walked away. To be mentioned later only as that „opening act“. That’s what the power of hype can do.
During the break, we were reminded in written form and over the PA many, MANY times that recording or photographing of any kind would not be tolerated and people will be thrown out. But more on that later. As we neared the moment of the first song of the show, I was literally shaking in my seat. A general rule of thumb for events like this one is to never ever look up setlists. Go with the flow and allow yourself to be surprised.
The opener was the sarcastic “Ænema” which was a good choice, we needed one with an opening riff that makes a statement! It was finally underway and I was screaming my lungs off. On stage, there were of course three visible people and that fourth guy, he was somewhere behind, hiding from the light, I’m pretty sure I have seen him once or twice. You all know the story, as much as that guy has a cult following, Tool has since the beginning been Adam Jones’ band. The guy in the shadows in the back? That’s how he does things, it’s been like that for a while and nobody expected any different now.
Already on the second song, “The Pot”, you could see the little tricks they do to draw out a more intense reaction by purposely making longer pauses in parts of the songs. It’s sly, and that extra second of pause doesn’t stretch out the song but it does stretch out on how one absorbs it. I mean of course that bit where a comparison is made between liars and lawyers when most of us in our teen edginess back in the day thought “wow how cool of a lyric that is” etc. I’m not saying they reinvented the wheel there but it’s been used lots of times and the effect was on point! Another good example was the Parabol – Parabola transition where you know it’s Adam’s turn to start rocking out but nope it won’t be when you want it but rather when it makes a bigger impact, dragging out the headbanging by just this much! We then finally got to hear a new one called “Descending”, which was allegedly in the works for over 5 years.
I will only mention the inclusion of “Intolerance” from the first album for the sake of mentioning how it felt a bit out of place, and more like a shoutout to their olden days. It sounded a bit messy from where I was but what it ended up unwittingly doing was creating enough of a momentum for the next one. The ludicrously vicious, skin tearing intro of “Jambi” came out of nowhere and now Danny on the drums was in the spotlight. All the instruments sound exactly like on the recording, the intensity is there, the emotion is also there!
Then, after some time, everything stops, there’s briefly a “August 30th” on the tellies behind the band and the lasers were now arranged to form a 12 minute countdown timer. Surely this is some sort of a joke by those bunch of tools! Or maybe, I hoped, it was an interlude of sorts. Let’s wait it out and see… Timer was up and they were back with “Vicarious” and well, inevitable mild technical difficulties. Afterwards, that guy, that Maynard guy, took the mic and said, and I swear to God he said like “alright this is the final song, security stand down let everyone pull out their cell phones” in a such a self-satisfying cynical tone. „Stinkfist“ was done, and that was all! Wait a second, the hell? That can’t be all of it! I looked at the clock and it was just over 2 hours including that silly countdown thing. A standing ovation for the lot of them that went on for a bit, and then sadly, lights went up, random music was cranked over the PA (well obviously not random but I certainly didn’t pay attention) and it was time to go.
Tool are an elite level band. They had and still kind of have their share of controversy, more than a few rumours of hiatus, they’re all involved in a metric ton of other music projects that you all know of but as a concept, they remain on top, balancing between being celebrities and being reclusive. Music wise, what I take the most out of them is the ability to make me alternate between melancholy and anger. Others go a step beyond and dissect them to spot patterns like the Fibonacci sequence and other stuff that was all over blogs and whatnot. This concert was one hell of an experience and I don’t just mean flying to a different country for a gig level of experience. It was a completion of a journey, one of the last great bands I was yet to watch!
Was it all worth it? Yes! Am I gonna be on the lookout for another such opportunity? Definitely! Would it have been more amazing if they added “Lateralus” at the end? Abso-fucking-lutely!!!