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Tool, Radio City Music Hall – 8/13/02

Filed under: Live Music — doktorjohn August 13, 2002 @ 2:35 pm

SENSATIONAL OVERLOAD

The fact that Tool’s performances at NYC’s Radio City and NJ’s Continental Arena sold out within minutes, and did not need to promise anything new in their repertoire, attests to the extreme popularity of their mesmerizing, multi-media, psychedelic shows—to their astounding originality—and to the virtuosity of these 4 musicians.

The show opened the same way as for the “Lateralus” tour with ultra-deep Tibetan monk vocals and undulating flutes while circles of flaming eyes were projected on the large off-stage screens.

Black-lights spotlighted the instrumentalists. By contrast, mad-genius vocalist Maynard James Keenan (MJK) blended in with the backdrop. His vocals are unmistakable, but he likes to keep his image almost secret. The opener was their first great hit, “Sober,” its rhythm reminiscent of Led Zep’s “Kashmir.” Next, a Ramones cover in an announced tribute to the two deceased punk-rockers.

Then, as “The Grudge” began, the curtain fell away behind them, revealing a beautifully creepy backdrop. Electric bolts shot lightening-like above the giant chandelier on the ceiling. “Stinkfist” came on with a modified version of its familiar video.

During “H” and “Schism” MJK, shaven-headed, wearing a dark bodysuit, remained almost hidden, standing on a video-projection screen highlighted only by his gyrations and his gripping vocals.

Skeletal animated figures convulsed on the screens like tortured souls and alternated with weird, unpleasant kaleidoscopic images.

“Parabola,” “Eon Blue Apocalypse,” “The Patient”—almost the entire last album, followed with cyclic rhythms, wailing guitars and bombastic vocals. Two large spheres resembling clusters of embryonic cells hovered over the performers and on the screens. Imaginary and metaphysical anatomy creations were displayed. Once, I think, a radial keratotomy (“R-K”) operation was flashed on the screens.

The apocalyptic “AEnema” was chillingly accompanied by visuals suggesting a catastrophic collision with an asteroid.

During intermission, the videos kept up for five minutes or so before Tool came back on with the languid opening and syncopated strains of “Dispositions.” More anatomical artwork, now in the form of oblong charts, descended into view behind the band. An enigmatic, seven-pointed star dangled center stage while a Middle-eastern melody transformed itself by crescendo into the more raucous “Reflections.”

During “Triad,” with its monumental drum solo, an additional percussionist and keyboardist joined the stage. MJK’s powerful, rich and widely ranging vocals topped off the grand finale, “Lateralis.” There were no encores.

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