The metal group led by Maynard James Keenan offered the first Bercy of its career. A stretched, strange but totally fascinating show.
Signs and voice announcements put you in the mood: “Please do not film or record tonight’s concert. Anyone violating 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 French stages. Apart from two festival concerts in 2007 (Rock en Seine) and 2019 (Hellfest), Tool had not performed indoors in Paris for 15 years. This Bercy announced between two confinements therefore very quickly displayed full – despite a seated pit decided at the time of health standards.
At 9 p.m., 15 minutes ahead of schedule, Danny Carrey settles behind the barrels and opens the show. Justin Chancellor and Adam Jones make their mark on the front of the stage while on the backstage screen are projected the psychedelic visuals – trademark of the group. A huge white curtain surrounds the stage, making it impossible to distinguish all the silhouettes. While “Fear Inoculum” resounds in a delighted Accor Arena, Maynard James Keenan enters, as always stashed on a platform at the back of the stage. No spotlight on the musicians, no one seeks to shine solo. Non Tool is above all an experimental journey, a live dive into the intricacies of complex, stretched songs, far from the verse/chorus structure. Only problem, Maynard James Keenan is barely audible.
The visuals end up grabbing you and we quickly find at Tool 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 apprehended – as regards the magnetism of the musicians, we will go back on the other hand. The absence of cameras on them making communion complicated. “Good evening Paris” launches Keenan twice, wearing a huge crest. This will be his only speech for the next two hours. Car Tool has its work cut out and a catalog to defend.
With “Opiate” back in the early 90s – the title having appeared on their first Ep. Little by little Keenan’s voice is gaining momentum and the thinking head is more and more involved. We feel him listening to his three musicians, concentrated in a show that requires a lot of effort from those on stage but also from those in the room. Security guards watch in the aisles, waging war on cell phones. Strange feeling of being observed, scrutinized by an all too omnipresent security. If the pit goes up for “The Pot,” it’s the appearance of the visuals of “Pusit” on screens that gets a standing ovation. And when the curtain finally opens – after 40 minutes of show, Bercy exults. With the recent “Pneuma” we are at the peak of the Tool system: titles that take their time to start, then guitar, bass and drums accelerate together, allowing to arrive on a false flat and to start again towards the final climax. . Maynard James Keenan moves from one platform to another, refusing to interact with fans, leaving Justin Chancellor and his bass to shake the walls of the Arena.
The audience – mostly male and headless under 30, listens religiously, adoring Adam Jones’ six-string digressions like 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 let yourself be convinced by the power given off by the whole, by Keenan’s total involvement in his singing, a hymn to the frustration that you have to know how to control in order to live. There we understand the whole meaning of an aesthetic and rigid approach, but sometimes saving; Tool wants to allow tormented souls to howl their anger, to get out of their intimate slump 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, locked in his straightjacket. Inevitably, the result will be a tone below. Difficult to get back in the bath with “Righ in Tow” or the 15 minutes of the recent “7empest”.
Even if everything is visually impeccable, it is musically cold. Fortunately, when Keenan grabs a megaphone for “Hooker with a penis” Tool goes back to what he knows how to do best; intense noise, a sound aggression that shakes you, without necessarily disturbing you. After 1h40 of show, the four musicians leave the stage revealing a countdown on the screen. That’s ten minutes of intermission – giant pee break, time to refill your beer and continue to rob the high-priced merchandising stands (T-shirt at 40 euros, 300 euros for the signed poster).
When Bercy plunges back into darkness, a completely different group returns. For half an hour Tool will knit around three recent pieces. Danny Carey’s electronic hacks make the bed of “Chocolate Chip Trip.” Then the musicians come to sit in front of the stage to offer a surprising “Culling voices” – the only truly emotional 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 if all goes well, you’ll find me again next summer with Puscifer (one of his other groups) . So now you take pictures, take out your “stupid things” to film. Thank you”. Tool retires on the fabulous “Invicible” after 2h25 of a mastered, powerful, serious show, singularly lacking in lightness and interaction. But Tool was there last night in Paris to repair souls than to distract them. In this sense, mission accomplished.
Setlist of May 12, 2022, Paris, Accor Arena
1/ Fear Inoculum
3/ The Pot
6/ The Grudge
7/ Right in Tow
9/ Hooker with a Penis
10/ Chocolate Chip Trip
11/ Culling voices