Tool, Radio City Music Hall – 8/13/02

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


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.

Voltaire at Albion/ Aug 3, 2002

Filed under: Live Music — doktorjohn August 3, 2002 @ 1:38 am

Just back from a gig in Colorado, Voltaire’s gypsy violin-driven quartet took the stage at NYC’s Albion/Batcave on Saturday August 3, 2002. To merely acknowledge vocalist Voltaire as writer, composer and guitarist falls far short of characterizing this multi-talented performer who modestly describes himself on his own website as a “Renaissance man.”

And that he is! A noted animator, comic, raconteur, poet, cartoonist and author, Voltaire, who cultivates an eerie resemblance to Satan, is likely the most successful and widely recognized figure to come out of the NYC Goth scene in a generation. He and his band perform around the nation and around the world, and are sought after for every kind of Gothic and/or geek convention as guest stars.

Voltaire’s animations are featured on the Scifi channel and are currently accessible on He has a bunch of cute and creative graphic novels— forever sold out— goofing on Goth pretensions and loaded with references to specific people and places in the NYC scene. He has just released a fourth CD, an anti-folk masterwork titled “Boo Hoo.”

He opened with a parody of a Ramstein number. The rest of the set consisted of eight minor key songs—mainly folk-rock to which the violin added a hint of European flavor— plus some original verse and several entertainingly funny stories.

A one-man “roast” of religion as well as all things Goth, Voltaire’s jokes and poems mainly consisted of friendly put-downs. Not shy about revealing his own shortcomings, Voltaire kept the audience in stitches by laying verbal and musical abuse on both the famous and the lesser-known that have crossed his path.

The song “Future Ex-Girlfriend” granted him opportunity to recite about his one date with Bjork, mocking his own masturbatory fascination with —and ultimate disillusionment in—the Icelandic diva. Religion got the Voltaire treatment in “The Man Upstairs,” a complaint about apartment living that has undertones of blasphemy. “When You’re Evil,” set to a tango, is Voltaire’s ode to himself.

   Fortunate and talented enough to make his living as multi-media artist and full-time Goth, he mocked those poseurs who disguise the fact that they are forced to lead double lives, He lampooned “Vampire Club” and spoofed those who term themselves “corporate Goths.” He teased his audience of “goyim” before closing with the traditional Jewish folk-dance number “Shalom”. And they loved it!