Tool Wrenches It Up at Save Mart Center in Fresno

Save Mart Center, Fresno
February 12, 2024

Photos by Paul Piazza

Monday night concerts can be extra tough. They can seriously challenge the energy of the remaining week ahead.

Maynard James Keenan and Justin Chancellor

But sometimes they are totally worth it-and if you’re real lucky, they can even turbocharge the days to come. This was the case recently when making the early week haul to Fresno’s Save Mart Center from Sacramento.

Justin Chancellor of Tool

What band would draw music lovers out to see a big show in Fresno on a Monday night? None other, than one of the tightest, together, potent, and present rock bands on the planet – Tool.

The band were nearing the end of a lengthy U.S tour before swinging down to Southern California and finishing up in Vegas. All of the band members seemed to be in a real good place, as one could feel their eagerness to wrap things up strong with some memorable shows – and this was certainly one of them.

Tool’s Danny Carey

Fresno happened to be the only place Tool would be able to be seen north of Los Angeles this year. Thus, the sold out show was not only packed with many locals, but droves of others who travelled from all the micro regions and nooks and crannies of Northern California to see this mesmerizing band.

And one cannot imagine any were disappointed.

Justin Chancellor of Tool

After opening the show with “Fear Inoculum,” the title track to their 2019 album, which was the band’s first new album in 13 years, Maynard James Keenan addressed the crowd. He welcomed the Monday showgoers, gave Fresno a little love, and instructed everyone to keep their screens down and to engage in the show and “be present.” Surprisingly, for a modern day audience in 2024, the majority complied throughout. This was vastly different from watching people watch so many other shows out there. So preoccupied with what is inside their devices. And accomplished with phones not shuttled into secure bags. The crowd trusted the band and the band trusted the crowd.

What followed was an absolutely brilliant and precise spectacle of visual and aural delights. The band sounded fantastic in the sports arena and the entire set was backdropped and enveloped with mind blowing visuals throughout.

Tool’s Adam Jones

Highlights included a venture back to the band’s first full-length album Undertow with “Intolerance” and “Flood” and a back to back “Invincible” and “Stinkfist” to close the show. While the Undertow songs (with superb live sound) were a welcome journey back in time to how the band originally came roaring out of the gates, the two closers carried significant poignance due to their relevance of where the band may view themselves in the present and what continues to make them tick. It was an open-eye view of mortatlity if you will. This was especially meaningful considering that three of the four band members are either over or nearing 60 and are performing at the very top musical form. Bassist Justin Chancellor is the lone band member in his early 50’s.

Though there were five songs from the newest album, there was a song included from every one of the bands full length albums, with a brief set break somewhere past the halfway point that resumed with drummer Danny Carey’s colorful percussion piece, “Chocolate Chip Trip.”

Danny Carey of Tool

As the show ended, Maynard, who had spent the entire evening above the band on his risers, descended to give love to each band member and the crowd. Drummer Danny Carey lingered a little longer with two of his young children joining him onstage, helping him throw drumsticks to the crowd.

Nick DiSalvo of Elder

It was a warm feeling at the end of a heavy show on a Monday night in February. The band would conclude their tour in Las Vegas the following weekend and there is talk that another Tool album will come much sooner than 13 years it took to complete Fear Inoculum. In the meantime, the band will take a short break, where Keenan, who turns 60 this spring will tour with A Perfect Circle and Puscifer alongside Primus. Jones has teamed with the Melvins and others while Chancellor has a couple collaborative projects of his own. Carey, who is considered one of the standard bearers of the rock throne, has participated in numerous projects, including some with the likes of Adrian Belew and Les Claypool. There is also the longshot rumor that he may tour with Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson. Tool will then regroup to tour Europe this summer.

Elder’s Mike Risberg

Opening the show were Elder, an excellent four piece band hailing from Massachusetts. The powerful quartet deftly drifts between stoner metal, prog rock, and doom. Their set lasted almost an hour with only three songs. Epic stuff. Keep an eye out for them.