Tool punishes the Pepsi Center — the band at its best

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Tool played the first of its two Denver shows on Tuesday, Oct. 15 at the Pepsi Center, in support of the newly released Fear Inoculum. Superfans or those heading to the Oct. 16 show will want to know the set list, which kicked off with the title track and included a thoroughly fulfilling journey through older material as well as half the new album, with a final encore devoted to "Stinkfist" off Ænima (during which frontman Maynard James Keenan told the crowd they were finally allowed to get out their phones to shoot the band, as there was a strict no-phone rule in place during the rest of the set).

Talking with fellow media members with whom I was seated (yes we all stood and danced damn near the whole time) and friends in attendance who've seen many past Tool performances, the consensus was that this was the most spectacular Tool show any of us had seen. The energy was palpable, the musicianship absolutely tight, the light show dazzling and the sound beautifully balanced across the arena for an all around memorable show.

A colleague at Westword who stood scribbling notes to the left of me the whole show, claims the show left him with insomnia, for which he doesn't sound upset at all. Give his article a read for the rundown on everything from Keenan's always-interesting wardrobe to the "surreal"  background projections that colored the stage with Tool's usual creepy-cool and very visceral, morbid, yet somehow spiritual/enlightened vibe.

Hearing the new tracks live for the first time proved especially exhilarating, though on a personal note my favorite track from the new album, "Descending," didn't get played; perhaps they'll whip it out for the Oct. 16 set. However, another favorite track, "Invincible," preceded "Stinkfist" during the encore, and was a particular highlight to the show.



After such a long hiatus between albums, Tool's capitalizing — perhaps feeding off of — all the pent-up fan energy, it seems. Fear Inoculum's been on repeat play for me and several friends. The band's as relevant and outstanding as ever, and never shy on showing an acerbic, humorous side, as noted on our media photo passes, which read: "Toxic Masculinity! A timeless example of the dangers presented by Iwo Jima, Feb 23 1945." 

Yep, play with that next time you can't sleep. The tour continues if you feel like hopping a plane and doing whatever it takes to score a ticket. 

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