Maybe it was fitting that A Perfect Circle returned to The Steel City amidst the high academia setting of The University of Pittsburgh. The last time this writer was able to witness them, they were a very different incarnation of the band (including Paz Lenchantin (Pixies) on bass, Troy Van Leeuwen (Failure/QOTSA) on guitar, and Josh Freese (NIN) on drums), as they played Beaver County Community College (CCBC) with their first release in 1999. For a band that only has three records to date, they still command quite a crowd, largely in part due to the elusive frontman Maynard James Keenan most well known as the singer of TOOL.
Opening with “The Package” from their second effort, Thirteenth Step, the band wasted no time in performing familiar territory. Set behind a gauze-like screen, the band’s silhouettes shown larger than life while projected from the rear through bright lighting. The dark imagery would continue thematically throughout the evening even as the screen came down for “The Hollow” from Mer de Noms. The crowd mainly was mainly subdued by the atmospheric music and dark lighting overall. But they certainly came alive when certain songs were played or when the long blond wigged Maynard, never leaving his podium and partially hidden in dark shadow, set well behind the stage, had a few humorous words to interject.
APC went back to The Thirteenth Step (a reference to the 12 step program) by playing “The Noose”, an offbeat harmony set against haunting melodies and “Weak and Powerless”, a metaphor for overcoming whatever addictions we may face. Billy Howerdel‘s guitar work creates the signature of the bands sound, at once TOOL-like, yet distinct enough on its own to distinguish from Adam Jones. The intensity continued into “The Rose”, a song with grinding guitar yet eerie effects that is disturbing and thrilling in the same moment. APC then went into a John Lennon cover of “Imagine” that deconstructed the tune and reworked it into a very different somber form. The band also covered Depeche Mode’s “People Are People” a few songs later.
“Magdalena” and “3 Libras” and new tune “Hourlglass” provided quite a bit of entertainment, not only with James Iha (formerly Smashing Pumpkins) pulling double duty throughout the evening playing rhythm guitar and keys but also the stellar guitar work of Howerdel. Maynard seemed in a particularly good mood, joking about quite a few things, including the wafts of marijuana smoke (interjected into lyrics) and then getting the munchies from said smoke, causing him to do something this writer has never witnessed in a show. I’ve seen lead singers drink from various bottles, smoke illegal substances, make out with fans, suck down oxygen between songs, and spray their throats to keep them lubricated, but I have never seen a singer eat popcorn on stage. Not only that, Maynard continued to eat the popcorn for roughly three songs, very openly, and with zero effect on his abilities. The other odd bit of the night was James Iha’s intro to “The Outsider” complete with cheesy jokes ala a Vegas lounge act.
The best moment of the show had to be the powerful Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums. The song from eMOTIVE, built off of two chords and a surging rhythm, is a heavy and creepy spinoff of the song “Pet” from Thirteenth Step that explores control, be it from drugs, political factors, or other manipulative factors.
Maynard promised a new release in 2018 much to the chagrin of the audience, no word as to if they will tour with the record. With all of Maynard’s projects including making wine, Puscifer, and the off chance of hell freezing over and a new release from TOOL, it is anybody’s guess. (set list courtesy of Setlist.fm at bottom)
A Perfect Circle, who recently released “The Doomed,” the first new music to be heard from the band’s expected 2018 album, return with an accompanying video for the “apocalyptic” (Rolling Stone) track: http://smarturl.it/TheDoomedVideo.
The video, which was directed by Jeremy Danger and Travis Shinn, arrives as the band is in the final two weeks of their North American tour. A Perfect Circle also recently announced their first European tour in fourteen years (dates below).
Upon arrival of “The Doomed” (http://smarturl.it/TheDoomedVevo), Maynard James Keenan said: “Fourteen years have passed since we released eMOTIVe. A new release is long overdue. In light of this current difficult and polarized social, spiritual and political climate, we artist types need to open our big mouths and share the light a little louder.”
“Years of life experience has brought our music to this moment,” offered Billy Howerdel. “We know where we came from. Deeply connected to the path we’re on.”
A Perfect Circle have signed a worldwide recording deal with BMG and are working with producer Dave Sardy on the follow-up to 2004’s eMOTIVe.
Purchase or listen to “The Doomed” at this link: http://smarturl.it/TheDoomed.
All photos AWeldingphoto © 2017
November 22 Grand Rapids, MI The DeltaPlex Arena
November 24 Chicago, IL UIC Pavilion
November 25 St. Paul, MN Xcel Energy Center
November 28 Spokane, WA Spokane Arena
November 30 Vancouver, BC PNE Coliseum
December 1 Seattle, WA Key Arena
December 2 Portland, OR Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum
December 4 Eugene, OR Matthew Knight Arena
June 1 Nürburgring, Germany Rock Am Ring
June 2 Nuremberg, Germany Rock Im Park
June 5 Stockholm, Sweden Fryshuset
June 6 Oslo, Norway Spektrum
June 8 Aarhus, Denmark Northridge Festival
June 9 Helsinki, Finland Sideways Festival
June 12 Manchester, UK O2 Apollo Manchester SOLD OUT
June 13 London, UK O2 Academy Brixton SOLD OUT
June 14 London, UK O2 Academy Brixton SOLD OUT
June 17 Berlin, Germany Zitadelle
June 20 Zurich, Switzerland Halle 622
June 23 Esch-Sur-Aizette, Luxembourg
June 26 Paris, France Olympia SOLD OUT
June 28 Madrid, Spain Download Festival Madrid
June 29 Barcelona, Spain Be Prog! My Friend Festival
July 1 Verona, Italy Rock The Castle
The band’s current line-up is Maynard James Keenan (Tool, Puscifer), Billy Howerdel (Ashes Divide), James Iha (Tinted Windows, ex-Smashing Pumpkins), Jeff Friedl (Puscifer, The Beta Machine) and Matt McJunkins (Eagles of Death Metal, The Beta Machine).