Maynard James Keenan Celebrates His 50th Birthday in Style
There are 50th birthday celebrations and then there’s what Maynard James Keenan did this past weekend at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. The two-night residency at the famed outdoor theater will no doubt go down as a great tour de force of rock and metal music.
What better way to celebrate your career as the frontman for Tool, A Perfect Circle and Puscifer than to create an evening’s performance that mixes and matches songs and players from all three bands? And while you’re at it, why not layer in the recently reunited Failure to give the night an even more diverse and unexpected edge?
Both the Saturday and Sunday night shows sold out quickly — a testament to just how faithful and loyal Keenan’s fans are. True to form, fans hung onto each line of every song, fixated on the performers, the music and the artsy and provocative videos that accompanied many of the tracks.
The execution of the evening’s concept was brilliant. On a stage festooned with an airstream camper along with outdoor tables and chairs, all of the players from the night were present for much of the performance whether they were actively playing or not. Each configuration of musicians would play several songs and if one wasn’t involved in the music, they would just grab a chair and a beer and watch onstage.
The mood and environment was strangely casual yet also quite intense at times. It was as if the entire Greek Theatre crowd had stumbled into some bizarro camping site set-up smack in the middle of the mysterious California desert, where some of the planet’s more beguiling musical players just happened to have landed.
Tool bassist Justin Chancellor took the stage when Puscifer launched into ‘Sober,’ while drummer Danny Carey also sat in with Puscifer, playing on four songs. Puscifer delivered a devilishly entertaining series of sets built around their typically brash, funny and experimental musical excursions before A Perfect Circle performed a set focused on songs from their first two studio albums.
Pacing and alternating the way they did, each of the bands were able to deliver fresh, standout performances within each mini-set. The smooth transitions gave the audience a chance to time travel with Keenan throughout his eclectic and unpredictable career.
The mood of the evening ran from soaring, airy and atmospheric to intense, jagged and ethereal. It also really made you start to think about other artists of Keenan’s caliber that may want to attempt this kind of format as a way of presenting their interesting side projects and musical alter egos.
While this would arguably be a very cumbersome show to take on the road, it does beg the question of how cool it would be to have such a diverse musical circus traveling the country. Kudos to MJK for sharing such a magical birthday party with the faithful. One can only imagine what he’ll do when he turns 60.
Exclusive Photos From Maynard James Keenan’s 50th Birthday Celebration: