Tool @ AO Arena Manchester review - multi-sensory perfection ★★★★★

It’s been alleged that Maynard James Keenan, the somewhat reclusive frontman of American rock band Tool, has in the past resorted to warding off trespassers on his property in Arizona with a paintball gun. Apocryphal or not, this tale is revealing.

By Jack Marshall
Tuesday, 3rd May 2022, 12:08 pm
Updated Tuesday, 3rd May 2022, 4:02 pm

Firstly, it demonstrates the (in this case ill-expressed) zeal which Tool inspires in their fans, who number in their millions despite the band likely being one of the biggest musical acts you’ve never heard of. Secondly, it suggests that Keenan does nothing conventionally.

That second statement is an understatement, yet it’s only in the flesh that you can gain a true appreciation of the almost religious devotion Keenan has to his craft. Aged 58, he emerged at the AO Arena Manchester with a double-spiked mohawk and a mission.

Undoubtedly one to baulk at the previous description of him as Tool’s frontman, Keenan hangs back during what was a mind-numbingly multi-sensory experience. Collective awe was not solely inspired by the recent absence of live music: this was a truly unique event.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Tool @ AO Arena Manchester

What can only be described as a true rock band, Tool are undeniable musical masters. Bassist Justin Chancellor and guitarist Adam Jones are flawless players, marrying old-school rock-legend poise with a keen sense of the power in their rousing crescendos.

But it was drummer Danny Carey who stole the show. In 15 years of witnessing countless live performances, never have I seen a musician so utterly in control of his brain-bendingly difficult craft. With every move, he brought an element of liquid artistry to percussion.

Meanwhile, Keenan hangs back, bobbing gently like a spider backlit by the intentionally-unsettling rolling images of eyes, tongues, and human anatomy which have come to define Tool shows. His vocals are as potent as ever. Iconic is an appropriate term.

Supported by the wonderfully eclectic Brass Against, a New York-based musical collective, Tool are unmissable. For their music and their domination over it, for their uniqueness and their willingness to embrace it, for their ingenuity and the care they put into performing.

Maynard James Keenan (top right) on stage

But most of all for the fact that they put on the best show in the world at that very moment.

Tool are currently on tour - for more information, head to

Tool @ AO Arena Manchester
Tool @ AO Arena Manchester
Tool @ AO Arena Manchester