Tool: Live (The Concert at Credit Union Centre, Saskatoon)


Folks, I thought I’d seen some pretty terrific shows in my time: Pearl Jam was a blast and Arcade Fire unbelievably good and the Pixies tight and polished. I saw a performance of Buckwheat Zydeco in Vancouver years ago that I remember with great fondness—Sherron and I danced for two hours straight. And, of course, Stacey was there. God, I miss ya, chum.

I have never, ever seen anything that remotely compares to Tool. It’s not just the music, it’s the music and the musicianship and the stage presence and the visuals, all in the service of bringing to life the nightmarish musings of one Maynard Keenan.

tool2.jpegThe diminutive figure never left the small, raised platform at the rear of the stage. He didn’t once move forward to join his mates…and yet his presence dominated. When he was singing, conducting…or standing stock still, seemingly as bewitched by the music as we were. He’s the emotional core, the central defining figure. Adam gives terrific interviews and is the pleasant, human face of the band. Maynard has little truck with explanations, analysis. He can be an acerbic motherfucker (remember, he used to hang out with Bill Hicks). Impatient with the superficial interrogations of vacuous video jocks. It’s all about art, he keeps insisting (suspecting it’s falling on deaf ears).

The set list featured lots of material from “10,000 Days”, inspired jams that still managed to hit visual cues perfectly, staying in synch with the bizarre video snippets and montages constantly playing on four stage level screens and two overhead brutes. The footage is mesmerizing, the dope fiends in the audience must have been swooning. It’s grim stuff: Lovecraftian uglies, chimeras, mutants…and then a sequence with Beckett-ian figures, forsaken yet persisting, godless and inexorably bound for the abyss.

I feel privileged to have taken in the show last night at the Credit Union Centre. I’m grateful I was able to share the best musical night of my life with my two buds Laird and Jess. It was fucking cold—the windchill had to be close to -30 Celsius—but we toughed it out, didn’t we boys? And afterward we stood around and looked at each other, at a loss to explain or digest what we had just seen.

Something special happened last night. It’s 1:30 in the morning and I’m still buzzing. Can’t sleep. Trying to absorb it all. Maynard, boys: thank you. You put your heart and soul into the show…and throughout your career you’ve never compromised or catered to the expectations of others. There’s a reason I was there last night and I think it was to remind me of the importance of integrity. The members of Tool have repeatedly defended their artistic freedom and autonomy. They stuck to their guns and are now reaping the rewards. It’s a reassuring theme to take to bed with me and it might just get me to sleep tonight.

I hope…



  1. Kelly

    What a wonderfull discription of the show.. it was everything you discribed. I travelled from wpg to see this show and it was worth every penny. The music just speaks for it’s self. I would love to find a set list of the show.
    peace and love
    Kelly (die hard tool fan from the peg) 🙂

  2. Bob James

    i think the setlist was approximately this

    46 & 2
    Lost Keys
    Rosetta Stoned
    Wings For Marie 1 & 2

    Fricken sweet show, the only think that could have made it better would have been to be closer, light show made up for it though..

  3. iamthediva

    Oh my God, was that not the BEST SHOW ever?? it was my fourth time seeing them (twice in Calgary, once in Edmonton, now my home town!?!) and they were phenomenal as always. Thanks for writing this review, it’s everything i wanted to say but didn’t know how.

    Can you BELIEVE they played Flood?!?

  4. Tyler

    Yeah that was my second time seeing them it was pretty awesome. me and my buddy were front middle the entire show. it was a bit irritating being on the floor though it was a show that just really wanted to watch closely but i think in the end id rather have really good lower level seats then being crushed up against a gate strugleing to breath and security blocking my view.

    i dont think they did lost keys though i think they just went straight into rosetta stoned. such a blur though hard to remember

  5. Laird

    Great review Cliff. As a recent TOOL follower (and probably the oldest guy at the show) I can’t believe how good rock’n’roll can still move me. That concert engaged me totally. I couldn’t keep my body from rocking and my foot from stomping and never even considered sitting down, a big smile plastered on my face the entire concert. It was like a symphony of rock for the stoned masses. Familiar mostly with 10,000 Days, the highlights for me were Jambi (great way to kick off their show) and Vicarious (great way to end the show), as well as Roseta Stoned and the two Wings for Marie tracks.

    I thought after the show I would take a break from TOOL for a while but I can’t get it out of my CD player. I’m so glad I went to see them. Cliff, it wouldn’t have happened without you. Thanks man.

    Can’t imagine who we can see next that won’t pale in comparison. I suppose it will have to be Dylan if he’s ever back our neck of the woods… or TOOL again in 3 or 4 years. Can’t wait!

  6. NG


    Looks like your friend Cliff (who up until his latest internet musing was, in my humble opinion, a figment of your imagination) has immortalized you in his latest web log. I imagine the concert was sensory overload, not including the music or the band themselves. A TOOL concert or the attendance of one reminds me of the main character in Clockwork with his eyes peeled open to the screen having to take it all in and the mind reducing sensory overload changed his life forever. Now imagine the same situation but add (as your friend Cliff so lovingly states it) a sea of throbbing dope fiends blowing smoke in your peeled eyes and a lightshow that could rock your core.

    P.S. I could have written “throbbing sea of dope fiends” but I like “the sea of throbbing dope fiends” better and I think it works just as well.

  7. thisdevilsworkday

    I saw Tool here in Melbourne (Oz) on their Lateralus Tool many years ago and was completely blown away. It was also my first stadium concert so that added to the amazement.

    You know that chill that runs down the back of your neck when you hear something awesome? I felt that stronger than ever before. That concert pushed me over the edge to join a band (which sadly no longer exists).

  8. archiearchive FCD

    I see this and the previous post as a pair. Ennui and reaction. Exciting is what someone else does. We each live our individual lives and suffer the boredom of repetition. Because we are all creatures of habit. Whether the habit is of travelling within this world we share or within the worlds we construct. I aspire to write and I find your descriptions of being swallowed by your invention to be exciting and to be longed for.

    On the 1st of this month I was lucky enough to attend a Crosby Stills and Nash concert here in Perth. Inspiration indeed. These were the heroes of my rebel years and still they have the power. My faith in the rebellion has been renewed and some words have been typed. Not enough and not good enough but it is enough that they flow.

    Oops, this is YOUR blog and I am using it for my thoughts and reactions. Apologies.

  9. tool_live

    FLOOD was not as climactic as I was hoping – yet the visuals for the song i thought were really amazing – i really appreciate TOOL’s visual show & thought the new images for FLOOD were great – WINGS was certainly a highlight for me

    great post btw – cool pics!

  10. kfugrip

    I ache to see Tool. Such a great band and a concert I’ve not taken in. I got started late in my life with concerts and missed seeing some of the bands that I love when it would have blown me away and maybe pushed me towards being a musician. Perhaps I should count myself lucky in that regard.

    Color me envious, Mr. Burns.

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