European Tour 2019 Hallenstadion Zurich (Diamond Records DR250619)
Hallenstadion, Zurich, Switzerland – June 25, 2019
Disc 1 (75:53) Third Eye Intro, Ænima, The Pot, Parabol, Parabola, Descendng, Schism, Schism, Invincible, Intolerance, Jambi
Disc 2 (78:19) Forty Six & 2, Chocolate Chip Trip, Vicarious, (-)Ions, Stinkfist. Bonus Tracks: The Loft, Berlin, Germany – February 4, 1993: Cold And Ugly, Intolerance, Sober, Prison Sex, 4 Degrees, Opiate, Flood, Jerk Off
This release is more or less a companion piece to the Werchter show I previously reviewed, same tour, just a few days prior to that concert. Where Werchter was a festival date, on this night Tool played a headlining show at the Hallenstadion in Zurich, Switzerland. Prior to the release of Fear Inoculum, Tool played a few scant dates in North American before heading to Europe to begin the touring process. This concert is the 12th of a 15 date tour that would feature the band playing to mainly the summer festival circuit with a few solo headline shows here and there. With Fear Inoculum’s release date still a couple months away, much focus would be put on the two new songs in the set.
The recording featured for this release is an excellent audience source, perhaps just a tad more distant than the Werchter, yet still its equal in terms of quality. Perfect balance of instruments, Maynard’s vocals perfect in the mix and as one expects from modern digital recordings, near perfect frequency range. This recording has more audience than the Werchter yet less of the immediate noise, turn this up loud and it sounds incredible.
The set list on the whole is the same as Werchter save one song, Ænima is the tour opener and Maynard gives a strong aggressive vocal. The Pot is met with a typical response, Maynard does a pregnant pause after the opening line “Who are you to wave your finger…” and the crowd responds with the next line. This song is a superb example of the importance of Justin Chancellor’s bass playing and his overall sound, he is not playing rhythm or being a direct copy of the guitar either, more the lead instrument that the guitar flourish. Parobol sounds haunting after the bombast prior and is greeted with a nice ovation, Parabola hits like a storm, again Maynard not afraid to push it vocally, the ending of the song is reminiscent of the beginning part of Discovery on Rush’s 2112.
A new track is next, Descending from Fear Inoculum. This is Tool pushing boundaries and like all great Prog, they let the song evolve naturally not caring about time lengths, certainly not geared towards radio airplay. The song has that perfect balance of heavy into melodic with odd time signatures through invigorating and challenging the listener at the same time. 13 minutes of new music can be a lot for the casual listener to grasp and very quiet conversation can be heard, Tool respond with a brilliant version of Schism from Lateralus, all the pieces fit.
The swap out song of the evening is Intolerance from the Undertow record, certainly the most aggressive song of the evening, twenty seven years on and the song still sounds fresh and as pissed as in its infancy. I have always thought that the 10,000 Days material really found its niche in a live setting, well heavier certainly, this is certainly the case with Jambi. The riffs are heavy, the bass is deep and Danny Carey simply nails it, he is as hard hitting and incredibly precise as it gets and is in the upper echelon of drummers, past and current. The brilliant Forty Six & 2 sheds the skin and has you picking scabs in pure joy, they nail the middle riff section and the song erupts in a swirling vortex of precision, Tool music at its best.
The audience seems mostly uninterested in the Chocolate Chip Trip drum interlude, I agree that it is more of a visual thing versus audio, although it gives a chance to see Danny showcasing a different percussive presentation. There is a nice ambient 4 minute soundscape that evolves into the set ending Vicarious that does not seem to be based upon any of the three instrumental pieces recorded for FI. “Always…always an absolute pleasure…because you’ve been good, and because Zurich is like a second home…you may now pull out your cell phones and film the last song, security stand down”. The always brilliant Stinkfist ends the concert proper.
The bonus material is a 45 minute soundboard recording from The Loft in Berlin Germany at the start of the touring cycle to support Undertow, their first trip to Europe. This features the first official line up of the band, the bass player is Paul D’Amour. The sound quality is excellent, the audience is very small and not loud in the mix, although audible, this is early and very aggressive confrontational Tool at their best. This is the band’s full set as opening act to Rage Against The Machine, so not for the weak of heart. The audience is told to shut up and sit down, Cold And Ugly features and intro of Rush’s A Passage To Bangkok that pretty much sets the mood for the concert. It sounds like an intimate venue and by the time the band finish Sober, the audience is being won over one song at a time. These early concerts feature much more talking from Maynard, you get song dedications, interesting stories and lyrical meaning, the one to 4 Degrees is not what I expected. The beginning to Flood is very heavy, Danny’s drums are powerful in the mix making for a thunderous rendition. The always brilliant Jerk Off is the final song, a superb recording of primal Tool at their best.
The packaging is excellent, tri gatefold sleeve with close up live shots of the band on the interior as well as official Art work taken from the gig poster on the cover. Excellent recordings and release featuring Tool in two very different decades and settings, two and a half hours of stunning, aggressive, and beautiful music.