Tool at Edgefest, Molson Park, Barrie, July 1. Tickets: $45. Attendance: 35,000. Rating: NNN
when tool started playing theirEdgefest gig, the audience couldn't locate lead singer Maynard James Kennan, who'd been swallowed up by the exotic lighting and some awkward positioning. Finally, we noticed him hunched in front of a screen, his back to the crowd, diminutive and dressed in black leather. Images pulsated, evoking writhing bodies and insects, tribal psychedelics and naked men. Without taking his eyes off the screen, Keenan was undulating to old favourites.
Five years ago, when they released Anema, Tool provided the soundtrack to every rocker's nervous breakdown. In those days, it was Maynard's voice, not your mother's, that sent you to sleep on too many rough nights.
The song Sober came out like a scream, and everyone knew the words. When the band launched into Anema's Forty-Six And Two, Keenan still had his back to the crowd. Without seeing his mouth move, it was hard to believe such a roar could come from just one man.
Songs off the new record, Lateralus, got the crowd going, too, though none had Anema's morbidly anthemic qualities that shook people up back then. It's hard to believe, staring at Keenan's stage escapades, that Tool's last Toronto show was a low-key affair at the Warehouse.
Before launching into H, a song that ripped the lid off heroin before it was chic to do so, Keenan said quietly to the crowd, "Happy, er, Canada Day," pausing as though he was trying to figure out if he might be in Detroit. But as the song pounded through the park, the reverb shook plastic beer cups in once complacent hands.
When the band exited after just under an hour, everyone wanted more. Only a lucky few had caught a glimpse of Keenan's face. To the rest, he'll remain the faceless mad scientist at his machine.