Thursday, July 14, 2011


I was surprised when I saw that A Perfect Circle was touring.  I thought they sort of put the band to rest, mainly because Maynard James Keenan seems more concerned with his winery and his newer group Puscifer, and Tool is still together. But I was glad - I love their debut, 2000's Mer de Noms.

Unfortunately, tonight they didn't play much from that album, concentrating mostly on their third and latest album, 2004's Emotive. That was their album of covers of songs that were inspired by war and peace.  It's actually a cool album with some bold interpretations of some iconic songs, but they don't really take off live.  Oddly enough, they played all the covers on the album, EXCEPT for my two favorites: Devo's "Freedom Of Choice" and Fear's "Let's Have A War." Which left their toy-piano version of Crucifix's "Annihilation," John Lennon's "Imagine," Nick Lowe's "Peace Love and Understanding" (sung by the band's leader, Billy Howerdell), Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On," Black Flag's "Gimme Gimme Gimme," Depeche Mode's "People Are People" (much better than the version APC did on the album),  the traditional "When The Levee Breaks" (popularized by Led Zeppelin) and Joni Mitchell's "Fiddle and the Drum." The two best songs on the album, though, were originals, and they both rocked live. "Passive" was supposedly meant for the Tapeworm sideproject (which was to include Trent Reznor, a co-writer on the song), and is one of APC's best moments. And "Counting Bodies Like Sheep To The Rhythm Of The War Drums," a sort of sequel to "Pet" from APC's second album Thirteenth Step. Since they'd never toured for Emotive, this was the first time I'd heard them live and they were amazing.

The show had a few isolated moments like that, but it never really took off.  There were too many slow songs, and not enough from Mer de Noms. Still, the great parts were great: Billy Howerdell is a great guitarist, and of course Maynard is a great presence.  It's hard to call him a "frontman," as he stayed behind the band with no spotlight aimed on him throughout the show. The rest of the band included former Smashing Pumpkins/current Tinted Windows guitarist James Iha, who played on the Thirteenth Step tour, and I think on one of the songs on Emotive. Matt McJunkins (who plays in Billy's other band Ashes Divide, and also Puscifer) played bass, and I'm not sure who was on drums, I'm pretty sure it isn't Josh Freese (who I think is currently with Weezer). But to the band's credit, everyone played like they owned the songs, it wasn't like hired guns at all. I heard that they were doing shows last year where they would play a full album - I'd love to see them do Mer de Noms. Anyway, pretty good show, if you're going to see them (they're playing New York's Beacon Theater later this week), you might want to make sure you dig the songs on Thirteenth Step and Emotive.


Anonymous said...

the drummer is Jeff Friedl

B. Ives said...

thank you sir or madam. OK, he plays with Billy in Ashes Divide and Maynard in Pusifier. logical choice.