the tool page

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The Tool Page: An Article


Date: October, 2001

Transcribed by
David de Sola (

 title: Tool - Madison Square Garden, New York.  October 1, 2001
author: C. Bottomley

Madison Square Garden, New York
October 1, 2001
By C. Bottomley

Tool are America's unlikeliest rock superstars, a throwback to 
those '70s days when all a "real" musician needed was a 
working knowledge of Bach, a copy of Robert Anton Wilson's 
The Illuminati Papers to roll up on, and a severe charisma 
deficit. The bonus is Tool rock frighteningly hard. 

For the first of two sold-out nights at Madison Square Garden, 
the quartet stuck to their strengths. Although guitarist Adam 
Jones was momentarily deserted onstage to batter the hell 
out of a five-note riff at the end of "Reflection," Tool's real 
wattage is in the rhythm section. Kicking off the set with a 
brutal bass run into "The Grudge," the fingers of the 
impossibly hairy Justin Chancellor blurred as he shoved noise 
into every crevice. Behind him, overshadowed by a 
conspicuous gong, drummer Danny Carey seemed to channel 
Led Zeppelin's John Bonham, keeping Tool stepping to the 
strict complexities of Eastern polyrhythms. 

There was a lot of work to be done. Songs found on their 
chart-topping third album, Lateralus, were segued together to 
form punishing 20-minute-long suites, but the group can't 
ride a melody for more than a few moments without abruptly 
switching gears. Utilizing minimal lighting that fully 
disregarded the band members, Tool weren't much to look 
at, either. Taking Alt.rock Anonymity Syndrome to ridiculous 
lengths, singer Maynard James Keenan delivered his vocals 
from the back of the stage; basically he was a silhouette 
wriggling like a pinned moth before a huge video screen. 
Keenan's rich baritone is not without character, but Tool's 
stage presence could make Five for Fighting seem like Van 

Perhaps the disinterest in drama makes sense, because all 
Tool's trappings are in their music. Incorporating arcane 
projections to illustrate each song, their iconography 
unfortunately implies that there is less than meets the ear. 
Keenan is fond of lines that sound like he swallowed a 
dictionary. But the convoluted sentiment "Cold silence has a 
tendency to atrophy any sense of compassion" (uh, right) 
hasn't stopped "Schism" from becoming a massive radio hit. 
Their visuals are pretentious - like a high school film class. 
With the band in darkness, the audience was served not only 
projections of beasts who failed the audition for an Iron 
Maiden LP cover, but shivering life models (we're all naked 
underneath, you know) being flailed by sinister machines. It 
felt like puberty was going to strike at any moment. 

Roaring along to "Sober" from Tool's first album, Undertow, 
the crowd was centered more on feeling than thinking. And 
what they were feeling was Chancellor's algebra vectoring 
their entrails. "Remember this feeling you're having," Keenan 
said as his group gathered around the drum kit to deliver set-
ender "Lateralus" its ritual pummeling. "Take it home and 
create something positive with it." Live, Tool are too elliptical 
to be much more than loud, but their brave old world hasn't 
stopped growing yet. 

Posted to t.d.n: 11/05/01 12:26:28