I have very little experience with the recorded work of Maynard James Keenan. I listened to Tool casually and can honestly say I have never bought one of his albums or sought out his music for consumption. Everything I know about the man is second-hand, all the music I have injested has come by way of a compilation album, the radio or being some where that I have no control over the music. This is not to say that I dislike Maynard and company, just that I never saw the big deal. To me he was always a cheap replica of Trent Reznor, but way less humble.
With all that being said this is the second time I have seen Puscifer live. Both times they have played The Centre for Performing Arts in Vancouver. If I look beyond the fact that I have never sought out Mr. Keenan and his music specifically, I do seek out his live shows. I have a great appreciation for the spectacle he puts forth. As a casual listener I find myself sinking into the music and drifting away. The complex melodies he and his cohorts bestow on the audience are chaotically beautiful.
Last night was no different, Maynard stepped out before us pulling an Airstream trailer. He continued setting up the set as he dove into some rant about sustainability. Those in crowd bombarded his monologue with the occasional cheers, and random requests to start the show. After a few minutes the stage was set and it was time to begin. The layout was a sort of camping experience, with foldable chairs around collapsable tables and a faux fire flickering at center stage.
Maynard stepped behind his mic and the stage lights dimmed as a deep purple backing light illuminated his silhouette. For the next three songs this is where he would stay. Only stepping forward to refill his glass with red wine. He was supported by five other musicians, one of which was a beautiful female on supporting vocals. THe sound was rich and full. Every song they played seemed to sound better than the last.
Keenan stepped up and told the audience that they were not watching this at home on their televisions, that this was actually happening before their very eyes. He then teased that it was okay to stand up and enjoy themselves. To which the entire audience then left their seats. The energy level in the crowd seemed lackluster at best, but what can you do when the music before is so intense, sometimes you just need to stare in awe.
Sometimes when you go to a rock concert you expect to look around and see everyone banging their heads in unison. WHen you don’t see this you then expect that something is going awry, that is unless you are a Puscifer concert. What started off as staring in awe had become an entire audience completely mezmerized by the musical mastery before them.
Earlier I said that I had no experience with the recorded work of this man, this is very true. But this does not stop me from loving him live. The amount of creativity that flows out on to that stage could never be captured from a microphone. This is why he is in three active bands and tours at an intense rate, he can barely hold back the flood gates containing his creativity.
By the end of the show I, along with the rest of those in attendance, were left dumfounded by the evenings festivities. Maynard James Keenan is best served fresh, he cannot be packaged up and server at home. Every time I see him perform I am blown away. This will never change the fact that I have not ever and will not ever own an album he has put out. I am still, very much, a fan of his work, as long as it is live. Thank you to Mr. Keenan and company for that awe inspiring display last night.