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Concert Review by Mark Bayross

Brixton Academy – Monday 11 June 2001

The awe in which Tool is held has been largely borne out by their quasi-mythical status as innovators, creators and thinkers way beyond the boundaries of what we know as rock music. Their latest album LATERALUS has once again proved that they are eons ahead of their contemporaries, and has moved the margins of innovation even further forward than before.

This show marks Tool’s first full live performance in the UK for many years (the Ozzfest show being a truncated performance, still brilliant nonetheless), and two sold out nights at the Brixton Academy attest to just how high the level of expectation is here.

Backed by two screens, one huge and centre, the other smaller and reversed, the band shuffle onstage seemingly oblivious to the roar of the audience, bar frontman Maynard James Keenan’s raised wineglass, and launch into the furious THE GRUDGE. The screens fill with guitarist Adam Jones’ swirling visuals and the sound thumps straight into the heart of every one of the 3,000 people here. STINKFIST, FORTY-SIX & 2 and PRISON SEX all follow, driving the power of the performance further and further up the scale.

Very few bands could lay claim to the sheer imagination of this show. Not only is each song delivered with a thundering intensity that sends shivers down your spine, but they are all accompanied either by mesmerising psychedelic visuals or, in the case of the songs already graced by Tool’s stunning videos, by re-constituted images from their original films. Apparently Adam Jones has also provided animation for films like JURASSIC PARK, so his visual talent has not gone un-noticed.

After SCHISM (for which Maynard picked up an fx guitar) and the epic PUSHIT, things slow down a bit with the dreamy DISPOSITION and the jaw-dropping REFLECTION, complete with a terrifyingly hallucinatory computer-generated graphical loop, and ending with minutes of Jones reverbing the final chords to the backdrop of a headless waving man.

Things haven’t exactly been run-of-the-mill up till now, but Tool really throw in a curveball here – they leave the stage and play the SCHISM video. For most of us, this is the first time we see it, and I’m glad to say it continues the Tool tradition of being a sheer work of art. Another Adam Jones masterpiece, then.

The interlude over, the band re-emerge and deliver a killer set of songs: SOBER is earth-shattering; PARABOL/PARABOLA is blinding and ÆNIMA is totally mesmerising, especially when Maynard sings “Some say a comet will fall from the sky / accompanied by meteor showers and tidal waves” and what happens on the screen above him is just that.

Then huddled around Danny Carey’s enormous drum kit, they kick off the melodic LATERALUS, closing the show with a rendition so spell-binding that, when the lights go up, the audience are left standing there, utterly gob-smacked.

Luckily for some, they had the opportunity to see it all again the next night, albeit with a different set-list (including EULOGY, OPIATE and the live world premiere of THE PATIENT), but I am happy enough with the memory of a concert so powerful, haunting, beautiful and thought-provoking, that whoever I see next is going to have a hard time following it.