Tool are currently in the midst of their first US tour in two years, steadily winding their way down the West Coast. I was lucky enough to catch sold out show number two at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in downtown San Francisco.
What I witnessed is arguably the most progressive, forward thinking band on the planet right now. Their mix of dramatic imagery and incredibly powerful live performances have been unchallenged and unmatched for the past twenty years. This was not just a show, it was an experience.
Opening the night was the critics’ darling, 90’s “should have been much bigger” trio Failure and they did a fantastic job warming up the crowd. Ken Andrews and company were one of my favorite bands back in the day and it’s so nice to hear them killing it on stage. Tool hand picks their opening bands and this one really wasn’t much of a surprise given that both bands have a few connections from the past.
Tool took the stage and immediately kicked it into high gear, opening the night with the classic “Hooker with a Penis” from their groundbreaking Aenima record. The setlist was fucking amazing and surprisingly included “Sober,” but more importantly led into “Vicarious,” “Jambi” and the closer that blew the roof off of the joint, “Stinkfist.” There was also a very interesting cover by way of King Crimson’s “B’Boom.”
It’s always interesting to see metal-heads headbanging to time signatures that could confuse Stephan Hawking, but it’s even more fascinating to watch Maynard and company make it look so easy. These guys don’t miss a beat and the rumors surrounding their forthcoming record are that it will take their sound to a whole new level, if that’s even possible.
Tool has in fact confirmed they are working on a new record, their first since 2006’s 10,000 Days, but contrary to rumors, it is not finished. The band issued a statement earlier this week to Rolling Stone explaining that a misunderstanding between the band’s guitarist and a fan led to the misconception.
“Last night, Adam Jones, in a private conversation with fans attending the Portland Tool concert, joked that the band’s new album was not only finished but coming out the next day,” says the statement. “Unfortunately, his off-the-cuff joke was taken out of context. Work on the forthcoming album is ongoing and as soon as it is done, trust me, we will be the first to let everyone know.”
It was seriously one of the best shows I have ever seen in my life. Here’s the setlist:
Hooker With a Penis
B’Boom (King Crimson cover)
Forty-Six & 2
Check out more photos from the show in the gallery.
A version of this post originally appeared on The Vinyl District which is another site that I write for.