Five Amazing Maynard James Keenan Vocal Performances
Believe it or not, Maynard James Keenan is celebrating his 50th birthday today (April 17)! The frontman of Tool, A Perfect Circle and Puscifer hasn’t lost a step since Tool formed in 1990, and he has gone on to prove himself as one of music’s most talented and dynamic vocalists.
Keenan can harness beauty in its truest form with tracks such as Puscifer’s ‘Monsoons,’ attack the very core of anger with Tool’s ‘Pushit’ and tell a humanistic story in pieces like A Perfect Circle’s ‘Judith.’ Like we pointed out in a past feature, Keenan’s voice can both sing you to sleep and scare you to death.
The voice of Maynard James Keenan is one-of-a-kind, and to celebrate the man’s 50th rotation around the Sun, we’ve gathered Five Amazing Maynard James Keenan Vocal Performances.
‘Sober’ (1993 Reading Festival)
There’s a reason this video of Tool performing ‘Sober’ at the 1993 Reading Festival has well over 3 million views. The half-worn onesie may have something to do with it, but the haunting anthem makes use of Maynard’s wide vocal range, both physically and characteristically, resulting in a mesmerizing performance. The way Maynard attacks the word “why” during the song’s chorus jumps out at the listener and sends chills down the spine.
‘Pushit’ (Live in 1998)
As Maynard Keenan has displayed many times in the past, the musician won’t always mirror a song’s studio recording while playing live. Most acts wouldn’t be able to pull this off without pissing off their fans, but in this 1998 performance of Tool’s ‘Pushit,’ the song is arguably transformed into a greater piece thanks to experimentation from the entire band. A hypnotic quality embraces the listener before Tool dive into the album version of ‘Pushit’ in this video’s second half. Thankfully, Maynard gives everything he has when hitting that solitary high note near the track’s end. Tool’s enigmatic singer also nails the line, “Remember I’ll always love you / As I claw your f—ing throat away.”
‘3 Libras’ (Live in 2001)
With the formation of A Perfect Circle, Maynard was able to explore softer realms than previously wandered with Tool. In this song about feeling overlooked, Maynard Keenan pulls on your heartstrings while painting a landscape of the pain that comes with disappointment. Filmed in 2001, this live performance of ‘3 Libras’ is from the early days of A Perfect Circle, perhaps displaying a fresher wound than what we’d see in 2014.
‘Toma’ (‘What Is…’ DVD)
Puscifer sound nothing like either Tool or A Perfect Circle, so it only makes sense that Maynard Keenan approaches his vocals from an unpredictable direction. ‘Toma’ is the perfect song to illustrate this point, as Maynard’s pseudo-comedic style floods the piece. Regardless of intension, Maynard’s vocals remain solid and controlled. The voice of Carina Round melds perfectly with Maynard’s, resulting in extremely rich harmonies when the female siren isn’t laying down her own atmospheric hums.
‘Know Your Enemy’ (Live in 1999)
It’s not often that one of history’s most powerful bands teams up with one of music’s most powerful vocalists. Maynard James Keenan was right there to see Rage Against the Machine explode with the release of the act’s self-titled debut album. Even better, Maynard was part of it. Complimenting the already booming sound of Zack de la Rocha’s vocal cords, Maynard recorded a scream for the ages on ‘Know Your Enemy.’ The Tool singer has joined RATM onstage a number of times for live performances of the track, and if you think Maynard sounded good on tape, wait until you see this 1999 video.