Last Friday my daily routine was broken for another day with the second concert in a week’s time. After the very good Manic Street Preachers concert of last week, this time it was Tool who visited Istanbul. I am a big fan of A Perfect Circle myself, who share the same vocalist with Tool: Maynard James Keenan. Because of Maynard, I gave Tool a try as well a while ago and have become a bit of a fan as well.
Tool is not the easiest band to get into. Tool are like a puzzle: complex and difficult to grasp, but once the puzzle is complete you see something very beautiful. Tool songs are often very long (their epic “Wings For Marie”, my favourite Tool song, lasts 18 minutes in total, spread across two parts!) and full of long instrumental pieces and very complex changes of rhythm and tempo. This means Tool songs often sound like several songs pasted together. Unlike A Perfect Circle, there is often no recognizable chord repeated throughout the song, Tool songs are far more complex and therefore it takes several times of listening before you really get adapted to a song. But somehow I like that complexity, it forces the listener to think and concentrate and that is something I like. Tool are a very dark band as well, while A Perfect Circle are more ethereal and mysterious but more accessible. Both share one thing: the beautiful voice and poetic lyrics by charismatic frontman Maynard James Keenan.
Beautiful is also the perfect word to describe the concert venue: Kurucesme Arena is located right on the boards of the Bosphorus. The sea is just next to the stage and crowd and in the distance you can see the Asian part of the city. The only concert venue in the world where you can see a different continent?? The perfect decor for a magical evening. A set of fireworks above the sea shortly before the concert set the atmosphere perfectly.
Then, with half an hour delay, Tool came onstage. The band started off with “Jambi” and then immediately did one of my personal favourites: “Stinkfist”. The sound was excellent from the start and Tool, known to be perfectionists, were in excellent shape. As usual, Maynard (who kept his shirt on for once!), was doing some very bizarre dances on stage during the instrumental parts. Danny Carey’s drumming was perfect as if it was a computer or machine, very impressive. The start of the concert was very promising. The one downside was something beyond control of the band: Maynard’s vocals were not always clearly audible because the guitars and drums were displayed too loud and the vocals could not always reach above the riffs.
Apart from that the concert moved on smoothly with songs such as “Rosetta Stoned” and “Schism”. Maynard was using the instrumental parts to consume over 1 bottle of wine. “This is the last show of the tour, I hope you don’t mind us celebrating”, he said, and the next moment he carried around a bottle of wine in a bottleholder attached to his pants, a bottle which he emptied completely during the show! Maynard, who owns his own vineyard, may have been a bit too drunk afterwards to remember much of this show
As usual, Tool also pay attention to the visual aspects. On the screens behind them, either artworks, light effects or fragments from the music videos (you know, the eerie videos where aliens do weird things) were displayed.
The band disappeared off stage for a short while, then to come back for the encores. During their time off-stage, a very annoying recorded electronic sound was displayed, so the return of the band was a welcome relief. Especially since the encores featured two highlights of the show: an impressive live version of “Flood” (one of the darkest and eeriest intros I have ever heard!) and as last song an always welcomed “Aenima”. During the encores, a laser show was done.
All in all a very fine concert although a few remarks must be made: Maynard’s vocals were difficult to be heard because the sound staff had not raised the sound level of the microphone (the band sounded very heavy and loud but Maynard’s voice hardly got above the very loud guitars and drums), long songs are typically Tool but sometimes the intros were lengthened and just a tiny bit TOO long, and most of all I missed the brilliant and very emotional 18 minutes song “Wings For Marie” in the setlist. Also, “Sober” and “The Pot” were not sung, which was a pity, but mainly hearing “Wings For Marie” in this magical decor by the sea would have made the evening extra special.
All in all I am satisfied, and I hope to see Maynard live again soon, but this time with A Perfect Circle. Idle hope maybe, but still… I hope after a 1.5 years of touring with Tool, Maynard can maybe find the time to reunite APC even if it were just for a short tour. You never know…
A t-shirt remains my tangible souvenir of the pleasant evening by the Bosphorus.