Publication: Knoxville News-Sentinel
Date: November, 2002
page: title: Review: Tool uses strange elements to build concert's structure author: Wayne Bledsoe Ever feel as if you've been part of a strange social experiment? That's a little what it's like to attend Tool's latest tour. Thirty-five years ago, the Grateful Dead took its audience on acid tests. Tool attempts to do something similar without the benefit of electric Kool-Aid. The band played to a crowd of 4,000 fans who seemed mostly between the ages of 13 and 35 Tuesday at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum. During the two-hour-plus set, the hard rock group performed songs from the albums "Lateralus," "Aenima" and "Undertow," but this was anything but a typical rock show. Onstage, the members of Tool were almost anti-rock stars. There were no spotlight-illuminated solos. Singer Maynard James Keenan spent the evening on a slightly raised platform at the rear of the stage in near-total darkness and sometimes nearly immobile. Bassist Justin Chancellor, guitarist Adam Jones and drummer Danny Carey were only slightly more visible. This wasn't so much a rock concert as the soundtrack to a needle being prodded into the soft tissue of the subconscious. It was like rock music as designed by artists Hieronymus Bosch and H.R. Giger, filmmakers Luis Bunuel and David Lynch, and the occasional mental patient. Two giant screens played videos that most often included disturbing images. Anyone who has seen a Tool video on MTV has a good idea of what to expect, although the concert videos are especially tailored for the band's show and often have nothing to do with images an audience has seen before. Tuesday the screens displayed muddy scenes of eye surgery, people who seemed to be made of sand nursing raw red wounds, bodies that twisted into new shapes, a mass of malicious black cells that killed a stop-animation-created creature who was then bisected They were closer to scenes from "Eraserhead" or "Un Chien Andalou" than any normal rock video. Although the sound was uncharacteristically clear for a Coliseum rock show and Keenan is one of hard rock's best vocalists, Keenan's cryptic lyrics were nearly impossible to make out. The bass- and drum-driven songs often built slowly and methodically. They utilized subtly unusual rhythms and created an odd sense of tension. Then again, the tension sometimes continued when the band left the stage. At one point, the stage went dark, the group left and a quick electronic pulse built for nearly five-minutes while a video slowly changed overhead. It went on until the audience got restless and built an odd sense of drama. Yet, the most dramatic moment of the show was made up of a 20-minute piece in which members of opening act Mesuggah joined the group on percussion and electronics. It was a climax that might nearly have been able to be part of a standard rock concert. Nearly. At one point, the group screened a short bit of Timothy Leary delivering his "question authority" message. Taken as a whole, Tool's concert should have every audience member questioning every rock concert they've ever seen.
Posted to t.d.n: 11/06/02 10:51:36