Bruce Springsteen flipped Vegas the bird Monday when he announced his latest round of tour dates, bypassing this market once again, but that’s OK, because today brings us a concert announcement that at least partially makes up for it: Maybe the best live hard rock band there is, Tool, is coming back to town, playing Planet Hollywood on March 15.
Last time Tool played Vegas, in early 2012 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, I wrote an article on some seldom-played tunes that would comprise my dream set list for the band. Clearly, they read the story, because they performed one of the songs: the monolithic “Ticks & Leeches.”
With Tool hitting town once again, here’s a reprise of my list. Hopefully, they’ll play another one — or four — of these songs this go-round:
Equally inspired and inspiring, this call for a universal consciousness builds from a whisper to a roar over the course of 11 tense minutes. “We are all one mind capable of all that’s imagined and all conceivable,” frontman Maynard James Keenan sings on a song that lives up to the high aspirations of his words. Ominous synth that sounds as if it were taken from the score to a 1980s John Carpenter flick sets a brooding, foreboding tone that eventually builds to an eruptive climax, a burst of energy suggestive of an atom being cleaved in half.
This quartz-dense instrumental jam develops gradually, like an oncoming storm front slowly moving across the horizon, when, all of a sudden, lightning flashes and a downpour of sound floods the senses. This is one of drummer Danny Carey’s finer moments, where he plays with the cinder-block-smashing power of John Bonham in his prime. He’s the engine that powers one of Tool’s most physical, just plain overwhelming songs. Remember that blanket party scene in “Full Metal Jacket” where Vincent D’Onofrio gets beaten to tears with bars of soap? That’s how “Triad” registers.
This emotionally charged tune from 1996’s “Aenima” was once a staple of Tool’s live gigs, but the band hasn’t played it much in the past 10 years. On it, Keenan delivers one of his most affecting vocal performances toward the song’s grand finale. “As the walls come down and as I look in your eyes, my fear begins to fade,” he sings, ostensibly speaking to his son, whom “H.” is believed to be about. It’s a tender, unguarded moment from a band whose true sentiments can be as puzzling to decipher as a scrambled Rubik’s Cube.
Tool’s first recorded material was as concise and to the point as the band’s latter day repertoire would become expansive and lyrically opaque. This bruising banshee howl is the band at its most confrontational, a profane, three-minute kiss off from its 1992 EP “Opiate,” where the group establishes the guiding principle of its career: These dudes are going to do what they want, when they want, and if that means turning antagonism into an art form, so be it.
Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at email@example.com or 702-383-0476. Follow on Twitter @JasonBracelin.