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Concert Reviews:
Tool Rocks DTE With Curfew-Busting Show

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Wednesday, July 4, 2007

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- Tool works to one rule -- its own. So the way the arty Los Angeles hard rock quartet handled its concert Tuesday night (July 3rd) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre was not surprising.

Tool chose to go on 25 minutes later than its scheduled 9 p.m. start in order to let the skies darken for the group's dramatic light and video presentation. But rather than cut things short the band played its full two-hour show, drum solo and all, busting curfew and incurring more than $20,000 in fines -- but certainly not short-changing the audience of "wild, happy people" frontman Maynard James Keenan saluted towards the end of the show.

It was the kind of full sensory overload experience Tool fans have come to expect from the band in concert. Heavy enough for the headbangers, bombastic enough for the prog rock crowd and expansive enough for jam band devotees, Tool delivered an aural roller coaster of dynamic, virtuostic musicianship and accented the ride with the aforementioned visuals, including surrealistic videos shown on four panels behind the band and an extensive laser assault during the concert's final three songs.

There were some moments of ambient noodling that bordered on tedium and tested the crowd's patience, but there was almost always some sort of musical payoff that was worth waiting for.

Tuesday's show focused, not surprisingly, on Tool's latest release, 2006's "10,000 Days" -- opening with "Jambi," closing with "Vicarious" and fusing a fierce rendition of "Roseta Stoned" and a lengthy treatment of "Wings For Marie, Pt. 1"/"10,000 Days (Wings, Pt. 2)" within the show. But the group also reached back to 1993's "Undertow" album for "Flood" and included some in-between favorites such as "Stinkfist," "Schism" and the textural title track from 2001's "Lateralus."

It's certainly serious stuff, but Tool showed the temerity to not be serious all the time. Drummer Danny Carey and bassist Justin Chancellor walked on stage wearing Pistons jerseys, with Chancellor playfully dribbling a basketball. Keenan later donned one of the jerseys, which reached the middle of his calves, and commented that, "Jesus Christ, these guys are tall!" And rather than a traditional encore break, the four musicians sat together on one of the stage risers while technicians adjusted the equipment, with Chancellor holding up a lighter in good-natured solidarity with the fans.

Tuesday's concert was Tool's third metro area stop in the past 13 months, and the group certainly hasn't lost its focus or desire to surprise over that time. It does have a habit of disappearing for a few years before releasing another album, and if that proves to be the case this time, Tool left its fans with a performance that should tide them over during the interim.

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