TOOL and ISIS at Molson Amphitheatre, September 23. Tickets: $42.50-$69.50. Attendance: sold out. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Iremember as a kid reading mad Magazine soon after it lampooned New Kids on the Block. The letters to the editor from fans of the boy band were venomous, suggesting mass burnings of the mag.
From this I learned that any band can have a rabid following, regardless of whether it deserves it. And so, in the spirit of that theory and after seeing them for the fourth time, I cannot for the life of me understand why people go apeshit over a band like Tool .
They do several things right: musically they're superb players, never hitting a bum note, and they're shockingly tight in front of so many people. That said, it appeared Saturday that the band was more interested in playing songs that were exciting to perform than to watch.
Judging by the massive lines at the beer concessions and the clouds of pot smoke, Tool may be one of those bands that can entertain an amphitheatre full of people because many in the audience are either too drunk or too high to know any better. It happened for the most part with the Grateful Dead and Phish, so why not Tool, too?
After sitting through painfully long, noodly riffs and meandering songs from their latest album, 10,000 Days, I couldn't help thinking that all this self-indulgent musical masturbation might make a whole lot more sense after I'd downed a few $10 beers.
Near-dead-on-his-feet guitarist Adam Jones is surprisingly dull to watch, considering Tool's dark and occasionally powerful music. Bass player Justin Chancellor did at least try to look vibrant, and pompous singer Maynard James Keenan was actually comical, seeming to be interpretive-dancing most of the night. If they know how dull they are to watch it would explain why they rely so heavily on visual distractions like a stage lined with large screens projecting bad, pseudo-creepy computer animation and an elaborate and exciting laser show.
When Tool pandered to the crowd with more accessible material from earlier albums Lateralus and Aenima, like Schism and opener Stinkfist, it was easy to see that they can be a fine band, but their bloated set failed to live up to arena rock standards.
Openers Isis , however, were in top form although they played to a less than full house. While stylistically not worlds away from Tool playing sprawling, hypnotic metal they generated more immediacy and energy in the live setting.
Do I want to argue with 20,000 cheering fans? Well, I guess I already have. And do I think Tool is a good band? Absolutely. Technically they're flawless and have written some great songs, but for up to $70 a ticket they'd sure better have a few more tricks and enthusiasm up their sleeve.