When we arrived for Tool at Nottingham Arena, we, along with a lot of other people, were forced to miss most of Mastodon’s short set as the arena decided without prior announcement that bags are (apparently) dangerous weapons and made us wait in a 20 minute line to put them in the cloakroom before entry. It’s a shame because what little we caught of it was pretty good, especially 10 minute closer ‘Hearts Alive’ that showed us exactly why they deserved to be here. Regardless of this the crowd didn’t seem to notice them: everyone was here waiting to see Tool.
The seats on our designated tickets were at the back and far too far away, so we did what any other pikey bastards would do and found some empty seats at the front. Once we were settled, the lights dimmed and the four members of Tool emerged and cracked straight into Stinkfist, a brilliant opener. This went straight into Jambi, culled from their recent 10,000 Days album, as indeed were the majority of tonight’s tracks. The soaring riffs and atmospherics filled the arena’s vast space easily, something that many bands falter at in these buildings. The crowd was left hypnotised throughout the 110 minute set. Even when the two parts of the title track from 10,000 days was played in all its 18 minutes of mesmerising glory, the band kept us in awe of their songwriting genius and musicianship.
The four figures on stage didn’t move around much, in fact singer Maynard James Keenan barely even left his perch at the back of the stage; preferring to perform as a silhouette in front of the screens at the back. Pulling all manner of weird shapes and moves, he was entirely captivating in his absence, proving his position as one of the best vocalists (not just singer) around today. He hardly even spoke to the crowd, merely noting that the Nottingham arena is an impressive space but it doesn’t smell as good as Rock City, up the road. This ensured the barrier between band and audience remained fully intact, adding to the sense that these guys were almost on another plane of existence.
The show started well and got better and better as it went on. Stage effects were aplenty, culminating in a laser show and light display during Lateralus and Vicarious. They could have done with delving deeper into the back catalogue with closer AEnema the only representative from earlier material than their last two albums. The set also seemed very reminiscent of their headlining set at Donington this past June. But none of this really mattered Tool were glorious tonight.
They left saying they’ll see us soon and considering it had been nearly 5 years since their last gig in Nottingham, let’s hope they meant it.