Roseland Ballroom, New York, Nov. 21, 1996

It takes five songs. That's about how long is needed before five thousand people realize they're in for a world of shit. "It's about abuse," revealed singer Maynard Keenan, to what was merely the embryonic stage of a long and sordid evening. The half-man, half hairless mouse-looking Keenan knew exactly what he was in for at the Roseland Ballroom, and in a fetal position, he shared it with everyone within earshot. Tool have always been amusingly shy and quietly mysterious when it comes to the general public and their first New York appearance on this tour wasn't any different.

Keenan, slathered from tooth to toenail in what appeared to be gold shellac, spent the better part of the first three songs facing the backdrop. It's safe to say nobody really gave a rat's ass whether he was facing the audience or standing on his head. The crowd was just happy to be part of this ill-mannered locomotive, and seemed a delirious, disoriented, head-scratching mass as Tool ripped through "Stinkfist."

Armed with two microphones and what later turned out to be a light coating of blue semi-gloss, a humble Keenan pined away as if this was the first time he'd been out of the house in years. Tool fans were led by the hand like a pack of virgins through "Sober" and "Prison Sex" before being verbally assaulted with a battery of the finest of Ænima. Indeed, the band performed as if they were on a secret mission and the closest resemblance to a breather was the five-minute "Intermission," so fans could gather what was left of their bearings before Keenan went back for another nibble on their collective psyche.

When all was said and done there really wasn't much to say. Folks scratched their heads, rubbed their eyes and licked their wounds. The only problem was nobody could decide which took a greater toll on them -- the mental or the physical abuse. It didn't make a bit of difference to Tool because for them, it's all about abuse and they had a two-for-one special on the menu.

Posted Nov 22, 1996 12:00 AM

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Sex Pistols meet Blondie in the guise of Republica: (from left) Andy Todd, Saffron and Tim Dorney.




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