photos by Paul Birman
...The material, though unfamiliar, was an excellent vehicle for Keenan's gifts. Most of it was swaggery and driving, pitched right between the sinister and the playful. But some of it was downright balladic, with a distinctly loungey feel, with Keenan coming off like a histrionic though entirely sincere Vegas crooner. The music and the presentation had a gimmicky element, but crucially, Keenan played it straight and sang his ass off. (To be fair, the band ruled, especially the really solid, crushing drummer and an excellent female vocalist--Carina Round--who served as an excellent foil for Maynard.)Maynard James Keenan's Puscifer made their NYC debut with a pair of shows last weekend: March 11th at the Grand Ballroom/Hamerstein Ballroom (where the above review and pictures here are from) and March 13th at the Apollo Theater. Uncle Scratch's Gospel Revival and Neil Hamburger opened (and also participated in Puscifer's extensive stage-show set-up).
The stunning quality of his performance had the really remarkable effect of legitimizing everything around it. Gradually, all the cheesy video interludes came to seem delightful; the theatrical hubbub going on simultaneous to the music began to come off like a charming complement to the already vaguely Broadway-ish material. (Former Primus drummer Tim Alexander played the role of a flight attendant, while opening acts Neil Hamburger (!) and Uncle Scratch's Gospel Revival sat in faux airplane seats at center stage, chatting, drinking and reading the paper during the majority of the performance.) Overall it was like watching a performer jump the shark, but doing so in such a professional and expertly choreographed fashion that the joke was on you for trying to put them in an aesthetic box in the first place. You actually felt like you were being forced to accept an aspect of Maynard James Keenan that you weren't ready for and you couldn't help but be won over. [Dark Forces Swing Blind Punches]
Their tour continues through March. More pictures below...
Uncle Scratch's Gospel Revival