Thursday, August 28, 2003 @ 11:44 PM
A Perfect Circle Live at the O
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REVIEW BY: fahQ
How does one begin to describe one of the most incredible performances I have ever witnessed? I am going to try to do this show justice and write from the heart. Bear with me.
I'll start with the venue. This was my first time at the Odeon, but definitely not my last. It was the perfect setting for an intimate gathering. In the heart of the warehouse district in Cleveland's Flats, the Odeon is a great place to hear live music. A barn-like structure with an open floor, it has a capacity around 1,000. No matter where you are, you're close to the stage.
When I walked in, opening act Pigmy Love Circus was already into their set. Now, I'm not familiar with their music, but let me tell you, their live performance is something to see. Raucous and rowdy with comedic overtones, they play fist-pumping rock and you can tell they love every minute of it. My eyes were firmly planted on Danny Carey most of the time, who was drumming like a madman. The rest of the band sounded good and didn’t miss a beat. At one point, lead singer Mike Savage donned a clown mask and sang to a crazy looking doll. They have alot of energy and are a very unusual, very fun band. I recommend seeing them live if you can. Until then, you can check out their website at www.pigmylovecircus.com It's hilarious!
Alot of stuff happened between sets. As Meatloaf’s "Bat out of hell" was blaring through the PA (One of MJK's little jokes), I met lead singer and bassist for PLC. I'll spare you the details for now so I can get to A Perfect Circle.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with them, A Perfect Circle is:
Maynard James Keenan (vocals)
Billy Howerdel (guitar)
Josh Freese (drums)
Jeordie White (bass)
James Iha (guitar)
Lights go down, Intro (“Lullabye”) starts, band assembles on stage. It takes a minute for everyone to get in place. First person to come into my field of vision was new addition, Jeordie [previously known as ‘Twiggy Ramirez” – Ed.]. Looking exceptionally handsome, he stood front left. Second was Billy, dressed in black with a look of fierce determination, he stood front left. From where I was standing (far right), I could barely see drummer Josh Freese (back right) or James Iha (back left on platform). In the middle, perched atop a four-post riser with a white sheet around it was one of the most powerful, passionate and enigmatic frontmen of our time, Maynard James Keenan. He was backlit and behind the sheet so all you saw was his beautiful silhouette and unmistakable profile.
Bathed in ambient purple light, they start off with "Pet,” a new song off of their much-anticipated second release Thirteenth Step, due in stores Sept. 16. This song was heavy and Maynard's vocals were as rich as velvet. He cast an immediate spell over the audience, all the while being barely visible. Some lyrics were: "Just stay with me, safe and ignorant, go back to sleep." It was so heavy, and sounded so amazing, I was awestruck. After "Pet,” the sheet goes up and MJK appears. The crowd goes wild. This would be the first time tears would stream down my face. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I'd be so close to the person who both inspires and comforts me with his voice and words.
They go immediately into "The Hollow.” The audience followed suit by singing every word, verbatim. The band just blew me away with how full and tight they sounded. I don't know if it's the new additions of Jeordie and James, but they just sounded heavier and more powerful than ever. At the end of the song, MJK spoke about this being a "get-to-know-you-tour.” He also asked the audience, "How'd you like the Meatloaf?" The crowd laughed and some people yelled "Meatloaf sucks!" In classic deadpan MJK fashion he quips, "Well fuck you then" and laughs. This would be one of the many times he made the audience chuckle. At one point he asks, "Who wants to hear James sing or tell a joke?" Needless to say, James ended up singing a few bars of VH "Dreams.” And quite poorly, I might add. But it was also very endearing.
The sexually charged "Magdalena" was next. Every woman around me suddenly transformed into "earthly goddesses" with provocative movements, myself included. By this time I was barely cognizant of my surroundings. My mind and body immersed in a state of perpetual bliss. As MJK cooed, "Overcome by your moving temple,” his voice resonated right through me until I was "overcome" by him.
”Weak and Powerless,” the first single off of Thirteenth Step was next. It was played to perfection with Jeordie's bass line reverberating in my diaphragm. This song displays how MJK can turn a phrase and the way he hangs on every syllable is very deliberate and meaningful. I knew all the words from listening to it incessantly on the Internet every chance I got.
"Orestes" was just as gorgeous as ever. When MJK sang, "I don't want to feel this overwhelming hostility,” I felt it in every cell of my being. This would be the second time I would tear up. As I gazed lovingly at my inspiration, I realized how fortunate I was to be receiving such an amazing gift.
"Rose" was played to perfection and sounded absolutely flawless. MJK asks "Any requests?" Audience shouts out a sea of "Judith, play Judith!" Not me. I was screaming at the top of my lungs "Thinking of You, Maynard!!" He said, "This next song is about self-love." With that, they went right into "Thinking of You," which is my absolute favorite APC song. The band sounds even more carnal and MJK's vocals were low and breathy at times. He writhed and undulated with the music. You can tell he was really, um... feeling it. As was I, Maynard, as was I.
"The Package," another powerful new song, slowly built up to an explosive ending. Some lyrics I can recall were: "Lie to get what I need, lie to get what's mine... Take what's mine. I wish I could remember more about this song, but all I can say is it was excellent.
"3 Libras" -- just as haunting and exquisite as it is on their album Mer de Noms. By the time MJK got to "You don't see me,” I was in tears once again. Absolutely gorgeous arrangement.
"Thomas" -- the band just rocked this one out. Phenomenal. This was a moment where everyone was banging their heads. I had an Angus Young moment.
"The Outsider" -- another new song and instant APC classic. Sound was heavy and MJK's vocals were ferocious. Some lyrics are: "If you choose to pull the trigger, should your drama prove sincere, do it somewhere far away from here." The audience just looked on in amazement during its entirety. Killer song.
"The Nurse Who Loved Me" -- this is a cover of a Failure (drummer Josh Freese’s former band.) MJK's soft winsome vocals mesmerized me. Beautiful melody. Some lyrics are: "All dressed in white. She acts like a nurse with all the other guys. She has everything I need, pharmacy keys."
It was at this time, MJK states "We'll see you all again in the Fall." I felt a sense of sadness because I knew this would be the last song. It was "Judith," everyone’s favorite anthem about blind faith. The audience tried to outsing MJK, but he owned that song. He sang it with so much intensity that he just killed it. The band left me awestruck once again. Very powerful.
The band passed out bottled water and abruptly left the stage. There was no encore. None was needed. They gave one of the most amazing performances I have ever seen. Their unyielding power and superb talent are immeasurable. A Perfect Circle gets inside your head, feeds your soul and opens your heart. To me, their music is medicine. And I for one can't wait to get another dose. I am honored to be a fan.