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Puscifer live review - The Roundhouse, London

Maynard James Keenan's other band dazzle London.

audience shot at a prog gig
(Image: © Katja Ogrin)

It’s been 10 years since Tool put out an album, but with Puscifer, Maynard James Keenan has been anything but unproductive. On the contrary, his solo project has bestowed us with three studio albums, four remix albums, two live albums and three EPs in the last decade and tonight sees these songs get a live airing in the UK for the first time.

As a warm-up act we’re presented with Luchafer, a lucha libre extravaganza featuring four masked wrestlers who slap, kick and slam each other around in a ring to the sound of cartoonish booings, while from benches each side of the stage visibly chuffed fans get a ring-side view.

When the rough and tumble subsides and the lights dim the opening monologue of Simultaneous welcomes in a roar from the audience. Keenan takes up position in the ring, bathed in the gloom of shadows, his face obscured by a black mask that is part-luchador, part gimp. He’s joined by Carina Round, his multi-instrumentalist protégé with a voice that exudes clarity and warmth. Divided into four acts, the show is quick to impress. The measured digital pulse of Galileo, thickened by Keenan and Round’s perfectly matched harmonies, sounds exquisite. The ever-revolving backing band, which tonight includes A Perfect Circle drummer Jeff Friedl and Ministry bassist Paul Barker, treat the post-industrial soundscapes with perfectly balanced ripples of bass reverberating atmosphere that is both intense and restrained.

In support of their latest album Money Shot, this The Money Shot Heard Around The World Tour rolls out like a less spectacular, but equally quirky rendition of Devin Townsend’s The Retinal Circus show. Surreal visuals featuring toy Godzillas, psychedelic patterns and an omniscient Keenan with laser eyes dominates the stage, while songs plucked from records with risqué names like ‘V’ Is For Vagina and Donkey Punch The Night are unravelled with grace and emotional intensity. At the same time the wrestlers from earlier dance around the band in theatrical style. It’s at once ridiculous and highly entertaining.

The set list focuses heavily on songs from Money Shot; Grand Canyon gets a big cheer as Keenan’s resonant vocals reach deep into the darkness, and the mechanical rhythms of The Remedy bring more of an electro vibe to the show. But it’s Rev 22:20, from 2007’s Don’t Shoot The Messenger EP, that steals the show, showcasing Round’s dazzling vocal talent in a haze of blues melodies.

“First of all, I apologise for Donald Trump,” quips Keenan during the encore. He then introduces the band and disappears into the night. Hopefully it won’t be another 10 years until we see him again.