The metal group led by Maynard James Keenan offered the first Bercy of his career. An elongated, strange but totally fascinating show.
Signs and vocal announcements put you in the mood: “Please don’t film or record the concert tonight. Anyone who violates this request will be asked to leave the room. So welcome to Tool, an American metal phenomenon, a quartet formed 30 years ago by Maynard James Keenan and far too absent from the French stages. Aside from two festival concerts in 2007 (Rock en Seine) and 2019 (Hellfest), Tool hadn’t performed indoors in Paris for 15 years. This Bercy announced between two confinements therefore showed itself very quickly full, despite a sitting pit decided at the time of the sanitary regulations.
At 9pm, 15 minutes early, Danny Carrey gets behind the barrels and opens the show. Justin Chancellor and Adam Jones leave their mark on the front of the stage as the group’s trademark psychedelic images are projected onto the backstage screen. A huge white curtain surrounds the stage, making it impossible to distinguish all the silhouettes. As “Fear Inoculum” resounds in a cheerful Accor Arena, Maynard James Keenan enters, as always hiding on a platform at the back of the stage. No spotlight on the musicians, no one tries to shine on their own. Non Tool is above all an experimental journey, a live dive into the complexity of complex and elongated songs, far from the verse / chorus structure. The only problem, Maynard James Keenan is barely audible.
The graphics end up conquering you and on Tool we quickly find the best of King Crimson; a brutal approach to music, with its guitar flights, its breaks in rhythm. For 13 minutes, “Fear Inoculum” lets itself be captured – as far as the magnetism of the musicians is concerned, let’s go back instead. The absence of cameras on them makes communion complicated. “Good evening Paris” casts Keenan twice, wearing a huge crest. This will be his only speech for the next two hours. Car Tool has its work to cut out and a catalog to defend.
With “Opiate” in the early 90’s – the title appeared in their first Ep. Gradually Keenan’s voice is gaining momentum and his thinking head is getting more and more involved. We hear him listening to his three musicians, concentrated in a show that requires a lot of commitment from those on stage but also from those in the hall. Security guards look in the corridors, declaring war on cell phones. Strange feeling of being watched, scrutinized by an all too omnipresent security. If the pot goes up for “The Pot”, it is the appearance of the images of “Pusit” on the screens that gets a standing ovation. And when the curtain finally opens – after 40 minutes of the show, Bercy cheers. With the recent “Pneuma” we are at the pinnacle of the Tool system: titles that take their time to start, then guitar, bass and drums accelerate together, allowing you to arrive on a false flat and start again towards the final climax. . Maynard James Keenan moves from platform to platform, rejecting fan interaction, leaving Justin Chancellor and his bass rocking the walls of the Arena.
The audience – mostly male and headless under 30, listen religiously, adoring Adam Jones’s six-string digressions as well as Danny Carey’s jaw-dropping drum breaks. Then came “The Grudge”. There, after an hour of concert, Tool is at the top of his game. Impossible not to be convinced by the power released by everything, by Keenan’s total involvement in singing him, a hymn to the frustration that one must know how to control in order to live. There we understand all the meaning of an aesthetic and rigid, but at times redeeming, approach; Tool wants to allow tormented souls to howl in their anger, to come out of their inner crisis to try to make their way through the din of the world. The 10 minutes of the title are such a demonstration that the concert could end there. Especially since the case ends with a Keenan screaming all his anger, like the madman in the asylum, closed in a straitjacket. Inevitably, the result will be one tone down. Difficult to go back to the bathroom with “Righ in Tow” or the 15 minutes of the recent “7empest”.
While everything is visually flawless, it is musically cool. Fortunately, when Keenan grabs a megaphone for “Prostitute with a penis” Tool returns to what he does best; intense noise, a sonorous aggression that shakes you, without necessarily disturbing you. After 1h40 of show, the four musicians leave the stage revealing a countdown on the screen. Ten minute break: a gigantic pee break, time to fill up on beer and continue robbing the very expensive merchandising stands (T-shirt for 40 euros, 300 euros for the autographed poster).
When Bercy returns to the dark, a completely different group returns. For half an hour the instrument will work around three recent pieces. Danny Carey’s electronic hacks create the “Chocolate Chip Trip” bed. Then the musicians sit in front of the stage to deliver a surprising “Voices of Killing” – the only truly thrilling bubble of the evening. Keenan thanks Paris. “We haven’t been here for a long time, we’ll try to do better next time” he says “and hopefully we’ll meet next summer with Puscifer (one of his other bands). So now take pictures, get your” things out. Stupid “to film. Thanks”. Tool retires on the fabulous “Invicible” after 2h25 of a dominated, powerful, serious show, singularly lacking in lightness and interaction. But Tool was there last night in Paris to mend souls than to distract them. In this sense, mission accomplished.
Setlist of 12 May 2022, Paris, Accor Arena
1 / Inoculation of fear
2 / Opiates
3 / The pot
4 / Push
5 / Pneumo
6 / The grudge
7 / Right in tow
9 / Hooker with a penis
10 / A journey with chocolate chips
11 / deafening voices
12 / Invincible