January 13, 2024

Tool played Madison Square Garden (Night 1)

Tool played their first of two shows at Madison Square Garden on Friday night, featuring a rather standard set with a few surprises.

These days, catching a Tool set isn't quite the obscure act it once was back at the height of their output. Even pre-pandemic, the band had been a regular fixture on the touring and festival circuit and since the return of live music, Tool have been on the road almost consistently. After wrapping up a leg of their North American Tour this past fall, the band has now reembarked on a long list of dates across the country and they'll head to the U.K. and Europe later this year. On night two of the 2024 segment, the prog-metal legacy act took to MSG upon a massive stage in front of a seated crowd. Settling firmly into place, the quartet slowly ripped through what has been their new normal set list featuring a hefty amount of songs from their most recent record, 2019's massive Fear Inoculum. The maximal prog-rock opuses stretch to unimaginable lengths on stage, the slow build and steady repetition allowing for tension to mount before punching guitars riffs break through to unleash a cathartic release. Maynard remains in the background throughout the set, taking over giant platforms on either side of drummer Danny Carey, stomping along as his might vocals soared over the sold-out arena. Even though it seemed as if he disappeared between sets and remained removed from the rest of the group, his time on the mic was forceful and struck with imposing authority. Behind his kit, Carey was a vision and led the band from the center of the stage, his meticulous drumming the anchor behind's prowling solos. As expected, brilliant and trippy visuals backed the band for the entirety of the night, ranging from close-ups of pupils to flowing magma with all sorts of digital designs in between, and lasers over the floor added extra flavor to the band's already impressive and expansive set. After a brief intermission, Carey returned to the stage and delivered a solo on a gong that pulled the crowd back into a trance as Jones and Chancellor rejoined him on stage to continue with another of their latest songs before taking a bit of a swerve to finish out the night. For the first time since 2011, the band whipped out "Flood" from their 1993 debut album Undertow, much to the delight of many in the crowd. "Invincible" was another recent track thrown into the mix, but for the first time ever, they closed out the night with the indestructible hit "Schism." As perhaps their most well-known track and biggest radio single, it was a surprise to see it added to the set, especially since it's been absent since their return to the stage after the pandemic. Even though they shut out Ænima from the set list, it was exciting to have some new blood added to the band's solid and air-tight show. Thirty-plus years into their existence and Tool are still rocking hard with some of the most twisted and gnarly grooves of the past few decades and to be able to see them while they're still at their peak, even if it's rather solidified in stone, is one to excitedly check off from the must-see list.

Set list:

01 "Fear Inoculum"
02 "The Pot"
03 "Rosetta Stoned"
04 "Pneuma"
05 "Intolerance"
06 "Descending"
07 "The Grudge"
08 "Chocolate Chip Trip"
09 "Flood"
10 "Invincible"
11 "Schism"

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