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:: Tool ::
24 November 2006 / The Arena / Manchester
By Dave Himelfield

Tool have always remained mysterious. Their gradual rise to stardom seems equally shrouded. Who would have thought, a few years ago, that Tool would be filling somewhere as large as the Arena? They took ten years to release two albums. They don't bother with singles, partly because they refuse to keep their songs short.

Even in the flesh they don't give much away. Maynard James Keenan enters the stage in a fluorescent orange jumper which he soon disguards. He spends most of time with his back to the audience with the minimum of crowd interaction. Adam Jones is largely static - forgivable considering he's conducting what sounds like of an army of guitars. Man-mountain Danny Carey is hidden behind a similarly gigantic drum kit. Only British-born bassist Justin Chancellor engages in any visible movement.

While part of Tool's mystique, this is only an aside. They're four regular Johns who don't seem to want their personalities eclipse their craft. Musically and visually, however, a Tool show is anything but ordinary. They open with the perplexingly titled classic Stinkfist. From then on it's a Lord of the Rings-sized journey through the epic and elusive world of this year's 10,000 Day. Simultaneously lasers dart across the arena while acid trip patterns glare from four screens to the back of the stage.

There's a welcome portion of their back catalogue including 'Lateralus', 'Forty-six and 2' and a beautifully absorbing rendition of 'Schism'. Armageddon epic Aenema closes the set with several hundred fans calling for Los Angeles to disappear under a shower of meteorites. An ending that was less than apocalyptic would have been an anti-climax.


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