Five Takeaways From Tool's Explosive Colorado Concert | Westword

Tool Leaves Us "Rosetta Stoned" After Explosive Loveland Concert: Photos and Five Takeaways

The prog-rock band sold out the renamed Blue Arena on October 3 and offered a mind-melting set list.
Tool played Blue Arena in Loveland for a sold-out show October 3.
Tool played Blue Arena in Loveland for a sold-out show October 3. Ross Jones
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"Hello, Denver! Or wait, we can't say that. Denver area, I guess. We'll go with Colorado. Hello, Colorado!"

That's how Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan greeted the audience at the October 3 concert at Blue Arena (the former Budweiser Event Center)  in Loveland. The seminal prog-rock band sold out the 7,200-capacity venue, which is no surprise: Tool has a big following in Denver and regularly packs its venues, including such places as Ball Arena.

That's why it's bizarre that you can still meet people who have no clue what Tool is. And as anyone who knows a Tool fan can attest, it is that fan's duty to detail every reason why Tool is the best, and why you haven't lived until you've seen the band in all its glory.

As vexing as those fans can be, they have a solid point. It's hard to resist urging others to see the band and be open to welcoming Keenan, Adam Jones (guitar), Danny Carey (drums) and Justin Chancellor (bass) into their lives. There's a lot to be said of Tool's musicianship — thousands of words could be shared on the musicians' technical skills and compositional prowess alone. But if you're new to Tool, curious about the band or haven't yet seen it live, here are five takeaways from Tool's October 3 concert:
click to enlarge blonde man singing into microphone.
Tool formed in 1990 in Los Angeles.
Ross Jones
The Crowd Was Wholesome

Back when I reluctantly went to Taylor Swift's Eras concert, I was blown away by how wholesome the crowd was. And while Tool doesn't attract saccharine girls in puffy pink dresses and glitter, this crowd is just as fine a feather.

"Lotta fuckin' dudes here, huh?" a friend texted me during set break. Indeed, prog-rock Gen Xers — pretty much all men, all smiles and all high-fives — were ambling throughout the center; a merch line snaked around the venue. But unlike at other concerts that tend to attract a male-dominated audience, there were no salacious remarks or reckless behavior; no one was getting too drunk, and by the end of the show, beer wasn't spilled over every inch of the floor.

Tool doesn't come by too often, so this was an event moment fans had been anticipating since the 2022 Ball Arena show. Their focus was on one thing: enjoying the music.
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Tool is known for combining visual art with music for an unforgettable experience.
Ross Jones
A No-Cell Phone Policy Is Key to That

Remember when concerts were filled with people who weren't documenting moments for social media but were actually living in the present? If you were born after 1995, probably not — but you get the experience at Tool shows.

Tool is extremely strict about its no-cell phone policy, and we are the better for it. Why do people take a concert video on their phone, anyway? They're likely never going to watch it again, and I hate to break it to them, but the people they're sharing it to on Instagram stories couldn't care less and will click over it.

At around 10:30 p.m., thirty minutes before the show was over, a security guard said that more than two dozen people had been kicked out for using their cell phones. And we'd seen that throughout the show: Some folks only had their phone up for a couple of seconds before they were whisked away. Some received a warning if they proved they deleted their videos or images, but second offenders weren't given another chance.

Too bad for them, because at the end, Keenan allowed audiences to whip out their phones to record the final song, "Invincible."
click to enlarge man playing bass on stage
The band has won four Grammy awards out of twelve nominations.
Ross Jones
Let's Talk About the Light Show

Tool may not be big on allowing tech such as cell phones, but the band has no problem embracing the out-of-this-world light effects available today. The band also enforces its privacy that way (none of its members do interviews or speak about the band publicly), in an effort to guide the audience's attention to the music rather than the performers. Tool lighting tech Mark "Junior" Jacobson ensures that the lights, lasers and screen images are completely in sync with each change of note, making the concert an almost immersive experience as audiences are pulled deeper into the music and its messaging.

And the images put on the screen are unforgettable. A volcano pouring lava morphs into an Eye of Sauron before blending into a new landscape. Heads pour from heads like fractals, an eyeball twitches its iris over the audience, tongues spill from gaping mouths in an intoxicating loop, alien-like bodies twist and turn.

It was like the best spooky movie you've ever seen, set to the best soundtrack imaginable.
The Set List Was Stellar

It's hard to make a bad set list when you get to choose from a prolific well of excellent, heavy songs with heavenly vocals. From its start with "Fear Inoculum" — the classic opener — to its finale, the show was filled with favorites, including "Jambi," "Stinkfist" and "The Pot," as well as tracks from newer albums such as "Culling Voices" and "Pneuma." One of the highlights came in the first set, when Keenan announced that the band would play a song it hadn't in "years." He brought out a big stack of pages — which he said contained all Tool songs — and rested it on a music stand. What followed was a captivating performance of "Rosetta Stoned." It was the first time the band had played the song with live vocals since 2009.

Find the complete set list from Tool's Colorado concert here.
click to enlarge man playing a guitar on stage
Fun fact: The band had never released its lyrics before joining Spotify and other streaming platforms in 2019.
Ross Jones

Once the band completed playing "Invincible," the crowd erupted in cheers. And then stood there. While some people started shuffling toward the doors, many seemed glued to the position they'd held throughout the show. The Tool spell was palpable. Eyes were wide — not from drugs, but from pure exhilaration and wonderment.

"Seriously, what just happened?" one fan asked a neighbor.

The neighbor laughed and replied: "Tool happened."

Keep scrolling for photos of the band performing "Fear Inoculum."
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Tool's most recent album, Fear Inoculum, was released in 2019.
Ross Jones
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