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.
The 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.
A bit of an update, covering a couple of points of interest:
First off all, here’s a link to a site that gives a partial credit list of the folks who are adapting my novella “Kept” into a feature length movie. The producers are affiliated with Twisted Pictures/Lion’s Gate, who brought you the “Saw” movies and, urk, “Hostel”. You’ll note my name is nowhere to be seen (surprise, surprise). I put together a brief synopsis for these Hollywood.com people to use but so far they haven’t posted it. Too busy covering the latest sequel of a sequel or comic book adaptation, I suppose:
Next I wanted to let you know the good folks here at WordPress have given me permission to sell copies of my books through this blog (thanks, guys). Only two of my books are still in print so those are, obviously, the titles I’m offering. But some months back I assembled a chapbook-like compilation of about two decades of monologues and spoken word pieces (Voiceworks: 1987-2006). The idea was to send the book around in that format hoping to tantalize publishers that specialize in drama. The reactions were underwhelming so after five or six form rejections, I thought “fuck it” and stopped submitting it. This is very much a limited edition, only 15 copies that I’m making available.
Voiceworks (limited number available) $10.00
The Reality Machine $10.00 (Originally published in 1997). I love this collection of tales; very surreal and satirical. Includes favorites like “Also Starring” (selected for three separate major anthologies, including The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror) and “New World Man”, which leads off a German edition of The 20 All Time Best SF Stories (my name made the cover, appearing alongside my hero, Philip K. Dick, and two other guys you’ve likely never heard of).
Righteous Blood (2003) $20.00 Two novellas dealing with contemporary evil, both of which have been optioned for films, including the aforementioned “Kept”. An intense book, influenced by the likes of Cronenberg, Polanski, David Lynch. Not for the faint-hearted.
Toss in five bucks for shipping and I’ll have them off ASAP. Might be a bit of a delay waiting for extra copies of Righteous to arrive from England so be patient. I’ll make sure to sign every copy too.
Here’s how to order:
1142 105th Street
North Battleford, SK
Make checks and money orders payable to yours truly–send along your e-mail address if you want confirmation of your purchase.
Scored a couple of terrific items at the library booksale here in town, including the late Graham Chapman reading his Liar’s Autobiography (good stuff), a Don DeLillo novel I hadn’t seen before and transcripts of recordings made in the Oval office during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Twenty five cents each; man, you can’t beat that.
Still plugging away on my novella-in-progress but I’ve been hampered by my fingers (arthritis and/or nerve damage), which have slowed me down considerably. I’m forging onward but…some days it’s pretty tough. I’m a three finger typist and I hit the keys fucking hard…after two decades, the damage to my hands is pretty considerable.
And, finally, some terrific news: my favorite band in the world, Tool, are coming to Saskatoon the last week in November. My friend Laird was quick on the draw and managed to secure us great tickets so he, Jesse (my nephew and fellow music freak) and I are off to Toontown the end of November for the concert of the decade. Fan-fucking-tastic.
That’ll do for now. More updates as events warrant. Stay tuned…