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REVIEW: Tool Prove to be Sharp as Ever In Latest Comeback (10-23-19)

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Glendale, AZ — Tool stopped in Glendale night to play the Gila River Arena to an ocean of patiently adoring fans that could not have been more excited to hear the band rip into their ear drums. However, little did everyone in attendance know that what transpired next would be far beyond even what their lofty expectations could prepare them for.

One might think after a 13-year hiatus from recording new music, that a band might be well past their prime but fortunately for Tool, they’re clearly an exception to the rule. With the release of their latest album, Fear Inoculum, this is a band that has proven they won’t compromise their artistic vision for the sake of putting an album out every two years or so. They take their time perfecting a raw, mysterious sound that fans have come to revere over the years.

UK veterans Killing Joke kicked off the night and proved to be an excellent opening act, getting the crowd pumped up with their whiplash-inducing brand of quasi-metal and goth rock sounds. They were definitely an interesting choice for the opening band, but Tool has always brought their friends and greatest musical influences along with them on tour. It was fascinating to observe and clear how Killing Joke’s unique take on music clearly influenced Tool’s own iconic sound as their set went on. Notably, Killing Joke has had many lineup changes throughout the years. But recently, all of their original members are officially back in the band. This brought an inspiring energy to the night that would only flourish in intensity as the time grew closer for Tool to take the stage.

Tool fans awaiting the band’s entrance.
| Photographer:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Fans of Tool know very well the law of the land at their concerts: no photos or videos. One might find this to be disappointing, but in many ways, it enhances the concert experience as people allow themselves and others to become fully engaged in the moment. As the lights fell to black, the sounds of cheering cut in front of the ambient noise with the swiftness of a starving octogenarian jumping to the front of the line at an early-bird dinner buffet. You could reach out and touch the energy in the room, and just when it seemed like the arena would burst from the crowd’s anticipation, guitarist Adam Jones played the opening swells to the new album’s title track, “Fear Inoculum.”

Maynard James Keenan (Vocals), Tool
| Photographer:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

This was a very good choice for the opening number, not only because it’s the first song on the new album, but also because it represents the first example of new music they presented to the world after a 13-year drought. The song was recreated beautifully in the live setting, and it was accompanied by some of the most impressive Alex Gray-inspired visuals to date. Incredibly long threads formed around the stage in a circular formation as intensely colorful images were projected onto the screen towering behind the band. These threads also allowed the images projected on stage to glide across them in a pseudo-3D effect that was nothing less than spectacular for  lucky enough to capture it firsthand.

Danny Carey (Drums), Tool
| Photographer:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Familiar clay aliens and faceless men in business suits adorned the screen as fans were treated to the corresponding music videos for each of the band’s older songs. One particular highlight included a full live rendition of “Parabol/Parabola” in all of its 9-minute glory, to the uncontainable delight of many fans in attendance. The drums punched through the mix with a primal fury not seen from many other bands around today, thanks to the incomparable Danny Carey behind the monstrous kit. His effortless playing and ad-libbing enhanced the songs without it sounding too busy or as if he was showing off. Every single drum strike was as tasteful as the last, which is no small feat when you have such a large kit at your disposal to tempt a less stoic individual into overplaying.

Adam Jones (Guitar), Tool
| Photographer:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Guitarist Adam Jones and bassist Justin Chancellor were also both in exceptional form throughout the night, proving their playing only continues to improve. The ear-piercing squeals of Jones’ dark Les Paul mixed with Chancellor’s thunderous yet melodic bass lines are truly a match made in heaven.

Justin Chancellor (Bass), Tool
| Photographer:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Other notable highlights of the night included the second song of the set “Ænima”, introduced by singer Maynard James Keenan happily declaring “Alpha Omega. AZ. It’s good to be home. We just got back from LA.” Immediately followed by the familiarly breathy “hey” repeated throughout the intro of the song about a great flood of biblical proportions consuming the entirety of Los Angeles in all of its perceived decay and decadence. This was followed by excellent performances of “The Pot”, “Jambi”, and “Schism”, with the latter incorporating an unexpectedly sped-up bridge section that had to be heard to be believed.

Maynard James Keenan (Vocals), Tool
| Photographer:
Rodrigo Izquierdo © All Rights Reserved

Tool have achieved what so many other bands who have been together for as long as they have only dream of doing successfully: standing the test of time. So many bands of yesteryear lapse into obscurity or worse yet, self-parody, as they make their comebacks. Tool is not one of them. They continue to deliver unprecedented, phenomenal live shows and mind-blowing visuals that only get better as time flows onward. If you get the chance to see them live, do yourself a favor by not missing out, because they deliver every single time.

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Photographer: Rodrigo Izquierdo

Tool – Gila River Arena 10-23-19

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Photography © Reagle Photography
All Rights Reserved


REVIEW: Taylor Swift Blows Away Opening Night of Reputation Stadium Tour in Glendale 5-8-18

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Reputation Album Cover - Click to Buy

GLENDALE, AZ – Taylor Swift kicked off her Reputation Stadium Tour in gorgeous Glendale, Arizona. Swift’s sixth studio album Reputation came out late 2017, and she’s worked tirelessly for months to perfect the album’s tour. Fans, or “Swifties” as they like to be called, poured into the University of Phoenix Stadium. They came armed with stuffed snakes, homemade signs declaring their love for Swift, and creative shirts with Swift’s image or impactful lyrics from different songs. Some fans had signs referring to Swift’s “Rep Room” hoping they might get lucky and be selected to meet Swift later that night. Inside the venue, Charli XCX and Camila Cabello warmed up the fans.

Charli XCX sang in a bright bubblegum pink raincoat and pants delighting fans with seven songs, two being cover songs – “I Love It” by Icona Pop, and ending with “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea. Cabello then took the stage, singing nine songs while wearing a white corset with glittery see-through sleeves and black pants with thigh-high slits. Cabello closed her set with her well-known song, “Havana”.

Swift started with a bang. First, “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts played over the sound system, followed by a video introduction addressing Swift’s reputation. Swift then emerged on stage singing “…Ready For It?”, the first track of her latest album, to the stadium of screaming fans.

Taylor Swift - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega, Kataklizmic Design
Taylor Swift
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved.

Swift spoke to the crowd before the third song saying, “I wish you could see yourselves. You’re beautiful; more than beautiful… What would that be?” fading into the song “Gorgeous”. Swift later said, “I’ve done fourteen shows in Arizona in thirteen years. Not all of them were in arenas like this. Most were in shopping malls, clubs, then opening for other artists. Now I’m doing stadiums like this, breaking the record with 60,000!”

Taylor Swift - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega, Kataklizmic Design
Taylor Swift
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved.

Using state-of-the-art production on three different stages, the center being the largest at 110 feet tall, Swift exceeded expectations for those thousands of fans. Colorful confetti rained down on fans, and another round of confetti was designed as mini newspapers with “Reputation” in bold, and “Taylor Swift” written all over it. There were firework-like flares, amazing choreography with sixteen dancers, and of course no show is complete without pyro.

Creatively, Swift had a tilted stage to go along with her song “Look What You Made Me Do”. This song’s music video gained over 43.2 million views during its first twenty-four hours on YouTube, breaking the record for the most-viewed music video in one day.

Taylor Swift - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega, Kataklizmic Design
Taylor Swift
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved.

Before Swift went into “Delicate” she gave the crowd an uplifting speech, “Wow I missed you guys. Since I was sixteen I’ve lived on a schedule, make an album then go on tour. Over and over, five times in a row. This time I decided to break that record with this last album. I decided I wanted to see who I would be and what my life would be like if I didn’t have a spotlight on me all the time. It was important for me, but I really missed you.” Swift shared some profound thoughts on how brave it is to pursue relationships, knowing that there’s an incredible chance to find mutual love, and also the risk of heartbreak. “It’s just delicate, you know?” As she sang “Delicate”, she was lifted in a sparkly, swirled cage, to her second stage in the back of the stadium.

When she landed, she happily asked the hungry crowd, “What’s going on back here?” She then broke into “Shake It Off” with tourmates Chari XCX and Cabello joining her. Smiling, Swift spoke again, “How is it going on this side of the stadium?” She mentioned following what her fans were saying on social media and trying to put together what they wanted for this tour. She said, “One of my favorite things about you guys in fifteen years is the music industry tells you what they [the fans] want. You can’t sing with that person or make a pop album because your fans are Country and would never understand. And I would say to them, ‘I’m pretty sure I know them better than you do.’ You stuck with me with my musical change. Thank you for that. I still write the same way. I pick up an instrument and the words come.”  

Taylor Swift - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega, Kataklizmic Design
Taylor Swift
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved.

After “Blank Space” Swift ran off the stage across the field seating, touching fans’ hands along the way, to her third stage. There she asked fans, “Do you like my dress?” She was greeted with cheers as the song “Dress” began. Swift transitioned to “Bad Blood”, making the entire crowd dance. During each song, the light up bracelets each fan received pulsed with the beat.

Swift had giant blow-up snakes on all three of her stages, a snake-themed mic, and she was lifted from the third stage to return to the main one in a floating snake ribbed cage. Later in the show, Swift explained the reason behind the snake theme, which every Swiftie knew. She explained that someone called her a snake on social media, along with other things. “I went through some really low times because of it. I didn’t know if I’d be able to do this anymore.” she said. “Thank you for taking the time to get to know me. For seeing me as a human being,” she concluded. Swift played a blend of “Long Live” and “New Years Day” on a sleek black piano with the word “Reputation” written in gold.

Swift got everyone on their feet with “We Are Never Getting Back Together,” the lead single from her fourth studio album, Red. That song quickly became a hit and reached the top slot on iTunes’ digital song sales chart just fifty minutes after releasing, earning the “Fastest Selling Single in Digital History” for Guinness World Record.

Taylor Swift - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega, Kataklizmic Design
Taylor Swift
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega © Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved.

Swift ended her incredible twenty-song setlist with “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” with a real water fountain on center stage. With beloved songs both old and new, Swift left her “Swifties” screaming and wanting more. Her opening night in Glendale was specular, and even if Swift is an artist who started in Country music and moved toward pop, that only made her a bigger sensation. Swift may even be one of the biggest pop stars in today’s music industry, and she doesn’t care about her reputation anymore. Swift told the crowd goodnight and high-fived her dancers before leaving the stage. The show ended with the words, “And in the death of her reputation, she felt truly alive” on the screens.

PHOTO ALBUM

by Katherine Amy Vega

Taylor Swift – University Of Phoenix Stadium 5-8-18

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© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved.

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