The line to get in to the Tabernacle on Wednesday, July 20, stretched over two blocks as Atlantans waited in anticipation for alternative rock band A Perfect Circle. Though they have not released a proper album since 2004’s eMOTIVe, vocalist Maynard James Keenan has had a cult-like following ever since the formation of his metal band, Tool, and this fanbase was out in full force on this night. Yet if fans came with the expectation of witnessing a blistering, energized hard rock affair, they would be only somewhat pleased.
Indeed, this was an intense performance by A Perfect Circle, but one that, for the most part, emphasized beauty over brawn. They drew heavily from their latest installment, resulting in a setlist that contained numerous cover songs. Though this could potentially become redundant in the hands of a lesser band, A Perfect Circle kept the crowd thoroughly intrigued and entertained through intertwining their own brand of delicate, somber darkness into both well-known protest songs (“Imagine,” “What’s Going On?”) and more obscure tracks (“Gimme Gimme Gimme”). Classic APC cuts were interspersed throughout the set as well, reinvigorating and engaging the crowd. Highlights included an energized “Outsider,” haunting performances of “Gravity” and “The Noose,” and a punishing metal production of “Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums” that rattled the walls of the Tabernacle and provided an adrenaline rush for the audience (particularly for those Tool fans in attendance). Maynard, a mystery and a recluse throughout his career, interacted with the audience sparingly, save for a humorous diatribe against encores and pop star posturing, as well as an explanation of why he was taking bites of a Vortex hamburger in between songs. For the most part, he elected to stay firmly by his mic on the platform near the back of the stage, hunched over and swaying menacingly to the rhythm of the music. Guitarist Billy Howerdel was the most mobile and active of all the band members, displaying impressive solo and improvisational skills.
Though some left the Tabernacle on Wednesday a bit disappointed by the omission of A Perfect Circle’s most popular song, “Judith,” it took away little from the overall experience of the show. It was a true performance in every sense of the word, and by a band of talented, experienced professionals whose skills and intelligence far exceed the normal hard rock standard. Let us hope that A Perfect Circle return to the studio very soon.
Annihilation (Crucifix cover)
Imagine (John Lennon cover)
Weak and Powerless
What’s Going On? (Marvin Gaye cover)
People are People (Depeche Mode cover)
(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding? (Brinsley Schwarz cover)
When the Levee Breaks (Led Zeppelin cover)
Gimme Gimme Gimme (Black Flag cover)
Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums
Fiddle and the Drum (Joni Mitchell cover)
By and Down