New Zealand's favourite progressive metal band blew away a capacity crowd on the first date of a two-night stand at Spark Arena – their first performances here in seven years.
The quartet of vocalist Maynard James Keenan, guitarist Adam Jones, bassist Justin Chancellor, and drummer extraordinaire Danny Carey, delivered a two-hour set showcasing material from last year's long-awaited fifth studio album Fear Inoculum, and select cuts from their three previous records, Aenima (1996), Lateralus (2001) and 10,000 Days (2006).
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PA announcements before the show reminded concert-goers that the Los Angeles group would not tolerate photos or video being shot on mobile devices. The hardline stance worked to everyone's benefit, allowing the audience to enjoy the fully immersive experience without thousands of phones creating one great big festering neon distraction.
Opening act Author & Punisher lived up to his name, the San Diego mechanical engineer and artist Tristan Shone brutalising the crowd with abrasive industrial-doom tunes powerful enough to rattle your ribcage.
Tool then kick-started what felt like a homecoming show with the title track from the new album, the music combining with the first onslaught of stunning imagery, and a dazzling array of lights and lasers.
Keenan occupied his traditional spot at the rear of the stage, from where he greeted the crowd with a difficult-to-decipher remark referencing Central Otago's wine country.
Jones, stationed stage-right, triggered a synthesiser in between his signature chugging riffs and piercing lead breaks, with Chancellor anchoring their sound on the other side, and Carey a constant sight to behold behind them.
Fans' already sky-high excitement levels went through the roof when they were treated to an unexpected rendition of Aenima, prompting the first mass singalong of the night in a collective prayer for rain and tidal waves.
Next came 7empest, the near 16-minute epic closer to Fear Inoculum that won the band a Grammy for Best Metal Performance, and the hypnotic Pneuma. When Tool blasted into the chorus section the whole arena head-banged as one.
For a band that has always preferred to slink in the shadows and maintain their mysterious aura, it was striking how visible – and visibly relaxed – they appeared. Jones and Chancellor moved freely across stage, occasionally meeting together in front of Carey, and taking turns under the golden spotlight.
The group's casual demeanour came after Carey and Jones surprised locals at American death metal outfit Cattle Decapitation's Wednesday night show at Krd's Whammy Bar.
Next came two tracks from 10,000 days – a terrific version of Jambi, followed by Vicarious - with Fear Inoculum's Descending rounding out the main set.
They resumed for the encore with Carey delivering a solo drumming masterclass with Chocolate Chip Trip, before the rest of the band joined in to run through Invincible.
After saying goodnight, Keenan told security to stand down to allow the crowd to pull out their phones for the finale - an extended version of Stinkfist.
It took 13 years for Tool to release Fear Inoculum so who knows how long we'll have to wait for their next album? Let's just hope it's not seven years before they come here again.