The band’s often reclusive lead vocalist spent most of the night obscured in the shadows at the back of the stage, perched on the same riser as drummer Danny Carey, but was as jovial as he gets, flashing the crowd a peace sign before running off stage at the gig’s conclusion or asking the audience to recall the "Back to the Future" films.
It was Carey, not Keenan, who was the driving force behind the evening’s highlight, “Lateralus.” Andrew and Jon Weiss from opening act Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine I love that name joined the headliner on bass and drums, respectively, to combine for an extended jam which pushed the number past the 20-minute mark. Keenan stood on the risers, flashing sheets of paper with various images: three exclamation points, a smiley face and more.
But it was Carey and the Weisses who did the heavy lifting on "Lateralus" along with bassist Justin Chancellor, creating a two-bass/two-drummer jam which pushed Tool's progressive metal into a raw, unrelenting territory. Carey led the way, directing Jon Weiss when to jump in and what to add as the pair's jam coalesced into mimicry.
As “Lateralus” demonstrated, Tool is worth seeing simply to watch Carey, who is a master. So expansive is Carey’s kit assembly that he sits on a chair with a spinning seat to reach it all, although I don’t recall seeing him go for the gong at any point. Nonetheless, "Lateralus" saw him swiveling to and fro to hit all of the weapons in his arsenal, while still maintaining the beat.
“Lateralus” was the capstone to a thundering triumph of a two-hour gig that sprinkled singles amongst fan favorites a midset “Intolerance” took the crowd all the way back to the first track on the band’s first LP.
Familiar tunes had fresh takes or new angles, such as an escalating jam which propelled “Schism” into its climactic finale.
The band brought the crowd to full fist-pumping singalong several times, perhaps none so much as the encore-ending “Ænema.” ARCO Arena exploded as Keenan broodingly belted, “It’s a bulls---, three-ring circus side show of freaks here in this hopeless f---ing hole we call L.A.”
Fans followed along word-for-word, too, with “Forty-Six and 2.” Moored by its unmistakable bassline, it gave Keenan a perfect platform to showcase his talents, sliding from a whisper to the chorus’ explosive howl.
Whether fans had seen Tool before or not, it was, as Keenan suggested, going to be all right.