The chart-topping Los Angeles based progressive metal band Tool returned to San Diego after two years, bringing another installment of their Fear Inoculum tour to Viejas Arena at San Diego State University on Wednesday January 19th. The first date of this multi-year tour also took place in San Diego but in January of 2020, just weeks before COVID halted concert touring and just about everything else. This new date in 2022 was a welcome treat for San Diego fans eager to catch the band again live as they bring their tour back across the US playing make up dates in previously canceled cities.
There is some twisted irony in the name of the band’s most recent album and its 1st song, also titled Fear Inoculum. With lyrics that mention “immunity, contagion, venom and mania” it can be no coincidence that the band has chosen to open each night of this continued tour with this song. Standing amidst a sold-out crowd of thousands in Viejas Arena after having gone through vaccine checkpoints and past COVID sniffing dogs, singing muffled lyrics through a sweaty clingy mask, the song took on a very distinct meaning. However, this concert was still a much-needed diversion . . . to hear Tool and their music live once again was actually quite therapeutic.
Featuring a 12 song setlist the band dove into material from all five of their studio albums. Highlights included a powerful and pummeling version of ”Sober” from 1993’s Undertow as well as fan favorites like “Pushit” from 1996’s Ænima and“The Grudge” from 2001’s Lateralus.
As usual vocalist Maynard James Keenan prowled and patrolled the rear of the band’s expansive stage in the shadows, and sang, screamed, and snarled powerfully throughout the evening. Guitarist Adam Jones delivered amazing guitar wizardry and searing tones showing off his notable silverburst Gibson Les Pauls and playing a very unique looking new Flying V as well. Bassist Justin Chancellor is one of the most animated members of Tool and one of the most fun to watch, his rhythmic low end really propels the band’s live sound. And last but not least, one of the best drummers in the world Danny Carey put on his usual live master class, tying Tool together and steering the band through all of their odd time signatures, tempo changes, and dizzying arrangements.
One of the most memorable parts of the evening came as all four members of Tool took a unique and rare foray to the very front of the concert stage. Only feet from the audience the band members sat in a small half circle and performed the intro to the song “Culling Voices.” Featuring Danny Carey on guitar this moment was such an incredible juxtaposition with the normal pounding thrashing sound that Tool can deliver. It was amazing to actually hear Maynard’s natural voice ring out seemingly louder than the PA.
Bottom line, Tool is a band that always brings an incredible live show with amazing musicianship, visuals, and performance to their fanatic fan base. This tour is worth going out to experience in person.
Tool Set List:
Fear Inoculum | Sober | The Pot | Pushit | Pneuma | The Grudge | Right in Two | Descending | Hooker With a Penis
Intermission: Chocolate Chip Trip | Culling Voices | Invincible