Level 10 - Vehement
Join Date: May 2006
Re: 2007/08/18 - Belgium - Pukkelpop Festival
Here is a full review of the show. Get ready- it's a long one!
I attended Pukkelpop only the third day. I had a car rental and drove out to the festival location in Hasselt from Brussels with my wife.
We arrived about 3pm and made a beeline for the mainstage. I saw The Streets, The Kings of Leon, Ozark Henry, NIN, and of course Tool. Since this is a Tool message board, and I have a lot to say, I'll get straight to their performance.
Since I got there fairly early I was able to find a spot to plant myself next to the black railing down the center which these festivals often have. I had a great view this way, as well as a place to brace myself for the inevitable body crush for NIN and Tool. It did have some drawbacks which I'll mention later. One definitely cool thing that happened from being there was Justin kept walking down the center to the sound area to watch other bands. I caught his attention and said 'Hello'. He was brief and just gave me a 'How ya doin man- good to see you'. He seemed surprised anyone recognized him.
As noted by a previous poster, Tool took a really long time to set up compared to other bands. They seemed to be having trouble putting in the final video screen on Adam's side of the stage. Still, the show was running on time for the most part and Tool took the stage around 11:50 and played their normal set length they have been for all these festival shows (about 75 minutes).
The band came out to a really warm welcome. I made friends with several of the Belgians around me and, although they did not seem to know a whole lot about the band beyond a song or three, they all were really excited about having a line up like Tool (and NIN) come to Pukkelpop. And they showed it as the band entered and jumped into Jambi.
Let's get to the show!
Jambi. The sound was HORRIBLE to start. Muffled, muddy.. pick your favorite morose adjective for shiatty sound and <insert here>! I could honestly not make out any of the individual notes from Adam's opening riff. Even when Justin and the normally steadying force of Danny Carey came in with their parts it continued to sound like a huge train wreck. The band knew it too, as the tell-tale sign that things aren't right occurred when Adam turned his head and intently watched Danny to try and stay with the beat for the duration of the song (outside of the talk box solo). Of course the band are pros so this righted itself eventually, but I'd say they needed until mid-way through Forty six &2 to work out all of the bugs.
Now for the Maynard stuff. I knew from the opening note that something was wrong (quick note about Jambi before I forget- he sang 'DAMN my eyes' three times during the chorus. no 'JAMBI eyes'). Even on the opening notes, he was flat and tentative. And then when he went for the second line in the verse 'But I, I would', he barely made it. Later, during the chorus he was still struggling and really holding back. I was feeling for him a bit and hoping it would get better. It didn't. I will say he did his level best to pump up the crowd energy-wise with his usual 'lean back and wave the cowboy hat' during the guitar break. It wasn't really enough to get the song on track. But he leaned back probably about as far as I've seen him go! At least physically the rest of his body appears to be ok. :)
Stinkfist. The overall sound was still crap, but I was mainly focusing on Maynard at this point. Good Christ what a difference between his vocal performance here and the ones in San Diego (especially that second night)! Listen, no one is a bigger fan of Maynard's than I (except for you stalker-types :P). But he held back on every aspect of this song. No screams at all- are you kidding? It sounded like he would barely make it through to the end! Even during the 'Not enough, I need more, nothing seems to satisfy' verses he did a little trick where he drops down an octave to avoid having to sustain the high notes. And he completely left out the long 'RIIIIIGGGHHHTT' scream or whatever yelp it is he normally lets fly prior to the guitar breakdown. This was the worst I have ever seen this song performed.
Forty six &2. By this time, as noted above, the sound had pretty much straightened itself out and Adam was no longer staring at Danny to try and keep time. It went off ok, but as usual Maynard held way back, notably during the build up and outro (What it takes to step through/See my shadow changing, etc). I realize some of the problems for Maynard were what the rest of the band were experiencing with the crappy overall sound. But it was obvious he was trying to support his voice from the gut, and he was probably concerned it would crack if he wasn't careful. It didn't- but it was close. Also of note during this one was the lack of enthusiasm from the crowd when Danny tore into his drum break. What a difference between crowd responses here and there for this particular section. In fact, it seemed like most of the crowd were a bit like my two new friends in front of me- not especially familiar with the old stuff. (sorry if that sounds elitist)
Schism. I am SO hoping they drop this song from their set at some point. Way overplayed. That said, the audience immediately recognized it and gave the band back some much needed energy. Justin nailed his part and the extended riff in the middle was the first thing they had done all night that actually sounded up to par for Tool.
Rosetta Stoned. I knew this one was going to be the make or break song for Maynard. Lots of challenging parts vocally and one of my favorite songs live. First off, it loses much by them not playing Lost Keys. Going right into the song is a litte jarring with Maynard's voice suddenly changed by the megaphone set up on his side. The song rumbled along ok, but my most memorable 'down' moment of the night occurred during this one when Maynard went to sing 'Bob help me!'. That scream he normally lets go for 'Bob' was strained and pitiful. I have never heard Maynard sound this way. Obviously he is trying to avoid any screaming at all at this stage of the tour given the circumstances surrounding his throat infection. It deflated the song and even some of my enthusiasm which, as is evident from my posts and this lengthy review, is normally unflappable when talking about Tool! They unfurled the giant 10,000 Days backdrop during this one, which seemed sudden and a bit goofy. It just etched this particular performance into my memory that much more as probably the lowest point in my Tool concert experiences to date. Maynard also did the clapping thing to get the audience involved during the long guitar/drum break down and the audience obliged. But it felt a bit forced and my feeling was that Maynard and band were just trying to get through this evening in one piece.
Flood. Finally a high point! The opening instrumental for this song along with the visuals for it (unrelenting waves of water) was just incredible! I had never seen this song done live and this performance helped bring me back from the abyss of Rosetta Stoned. It's a real trip from start to finish and most of the crowd seemed unsure what to make of it, going back to what seemed liked a general unfamiliarity with the older material. Justin's bass line was a massive wall of fuzz and Danny beat the crap out of his drums for this one. Adam had long, spacey lines going until the opening riffs for the main part of the song. I cannot wait to see them do this one live again under better circumstances.
Laterlalus. Went well I suppose. Nothing special happened and even the extended part with Danny's solo seemed a bit lacking (no guest soloist which sucks since I really thought they would bring out a member from NIN for it- nope).
Vicarious. Ok, knowing the set list and that this would be the last song, I suddenly had this brilliant idea that I would try and make my way to the back of the crowd (my wife had already left- she was wiped out). I wanted to beat out what I knew would be a long walk out and also, as I have done for several other Tool shows when I have been close to the front, it's kind of nice watch from the back for a song or two and get an overall impression of the sound and show. Something you can't really do if you just stay planted up front. BIG MISTAKE! I got about 10 ft from my original spot and realized I was faced with a sea of wall to wall humanity! I literally had to fight my way through the crowd to get out. It seemed like it took forever but I actually made it to the back just as Maynard started the first verse. To the 300 or so Belgians I pissed off making this happen, my humble apologies! Anyway, I found an area to watch from the back which was open and had a few hardcore fans singing along so I joined them. The sound was really not all that bad. But when Maynard went to thrust the mic out to have the audience sing the high part, the guys next to me got a little miffed ("what the fuck??"). Maynard doing this does not go over so well in foreign countries where English is not the first language, apparently. It's not like everyone knows every word to every song like they do here. And it occurred to me that maybe Maynard should shut down this tour until he can sing that part again.
Well, that's (mercifully) about all I have to say! If you made it this far, go get yourself a cookie- it's on me. In spite of what is certainly the least of the performances I have seen from Tool, a Tool show on a bad night is still better than most any other act on a good night. There were many good things, Flood in particular. But I have to give it to Nine Inch Nails as the best performer this night. Trent really delivered and the band nailed their set. It made them tough to follow. Here's hoping for better days from Tool/Maynard in the near future. I just hope his voice can actually right itself without a lengthy break.
Last edited by sonnyboy11; 08-22-2007 at 06:04 AM..