A Perfect Circle performed a sold out show on Friday 7.8.2011 at the beautiful historic Fox Theater in Detroit. They are touring after a 6 year slumber. Singer Maynard James Keenan was pursuing his other projects, most notable being Tool’s 2006 Album10,000 Days and his other band, Puscifer. Also guitarist & composer Billy Howerdel was focusing on his new project, Ashes Divide. The line up has changed since its inception, but the original creators, Keenan & Howerdel remain. New to the band is Pusifer & Ashes Divide Bassist, Matt McJunkins, and drummer Josh Freese, of Nine Inch Nails and Devo. And also Former guitarist for The Smashing Pumpkins, James Iha on Keyboards & Guitar.
The band brought along an all female punk rock group from Japan called Red Bacteria Vacuum. These girls have been around since 1998, and have toured the US many times. These girls not only know how to rock, they were high energy, beautiful and very fashionable. The lighting was fantastic during their set and you could really see the girls enjoying themselves with smiles & high kicks! The tough Detroit crowd seemed to give them a warm welcome. Red Bacteria Vacuum will be opening for A Perfect Circle on all their non festival 2011 tour appearances.
Detroit was a music mecca on Friday Night, but A Perfect Circle had no problem being a SOLD OUT show! It didn’t matter that Vans Warped Tour was across the street at Comerica Park and Peter Frampton was at DTE Energy, everyone knew what would be the most fabulous show that night!! A Perfect Circle at the most perfect venue, The Fox! This place is not only beautiful and breathtaking, but known for its great acoustics. The first song was “Annihilation”, a cover song by Crucifix, which was performed with a tiny child’s size baby grand piano front and center. Keenan sounded amazing on vocals and the band was super tight. The Detroit crowd stood on their feet the entire performance. True fans were singing along and screaming out Maynard’s name. Deafening cries & the loudest applauds were received after their biggest hit, “Weak and Powerless”.
They performed an 18 song set, including many covers, which are all from the bands 3rd Album, eMotive. The eMotive album contains ten political, drastically rearranged cover songs, with just two ‘original’ songs. Many of these were performed during this set. Two of the most popular and recognized songs of these were John Lennon’s “Imagine”, and a special Motown Favorite by Marvin Gaye, “Whats Going On?” Funny how some Detroit fans didn’t even recognize this Marvin Gaye song, as it was arranged very differently compared to the original. But as the song played, people realized they knew the lyrics, because it was and is, such a famous Motown hit.
Keenan was mysterious as always, hiding on a dark shadowed riser, stage right. Backdrop lights were the only way to get a glimpse of him. Mostly you could only see his silhouette. He held the mic stand with two hands, and leaned in close to it. You could see him swaggering back and forth, and this super long hair would sway in the breeze, with what looked like a few dreadlocks or braids mixed in. All the other members of the bands were brightly lit with colored lights, but not Keenan. Many people were asking where he was? They didn’t realize he was there in the shadows, like a backup singer. After the show, there was much talk about Keenan, and his strange ways. Some said he was lip singing. I was appalled at the thought of this! But then again, I guess it was possible? His voice sounded absolutely amazing, and you could never really see his lips, nor his face! It looked like he was singing, but I could see how some would have doubt. I wondered…is Keenan shy? Is he nervous about performing? When do you ever see the singer, not the “front man” and put himself out there? Maybe he wants to highlight the other members of the band? I thought of Jim Morrison, and how he was shy in the beginning, and would sing with his back to the crowd. I felt like this was what Keenan was doing. I then thought back to the other shows I’ve seen of Keenan, and the last tour of Puscifer, he was performing in a similar way. He hid his face behind a TV screen attached to the top of the mic stand. Another time was with Tool, where he stood in the back corner and all you could see was his silhouette. And then way back in the day, the first time I ever seen Tool, Lollapalozza Tour 1997. Keenan was dressed in Drag! I guess that is a way of hiding too?! Maybe he just wants to keep his physical identity private, so he will not be hounded by paparazzi and fans? I did hear that Keenan has a clean shaven head, and was wearing a long haired wig on stage! Hmmmm… makes you wonder about his antics?
Us photographers got to shoot the first two songs from any available space in front row. There is no photo pit at the Fox Theater. Of course everyone showed up for their killer seats when A Perfect Circle came out. I was told they were quite expensive, but worth it according to the fans that bought these $250 tickets! I was limited to shooting from the front center isle with a bunch of other photogs and 2 big security guards to shoot over. These first two songs were very dim and dark. Of course after those songs, the stage lit up and looked super amazing! Camo curtains draped the stage, and front and center hanging above, was their famous logo, an imperfect circle.
Fans were treated to a 2 song encore. Keenan announced to fans that the band was about to do the encore, and are gonna skip leaving the stage… lets pretend… Thank You, Good Night…and then the guys went into “Fiddle The Drum”. The final song of the evening was a new song, which debuted on this tour at the recent Portland Oregon show entitled, “By & Down”.
Overall, the show was everything you’d come to expect from Maynard James Keenan. A killer setlist, fantastic music, a dark haunting atmosphere and a stellar line up of musicians. The band will be performing the huge Lollapalooza Music Festival in Chicago, IL, which runs from August 5th – 7th 2011. Check out all their tour dates & get their Merch here: www.aperfectcircle.com
A Perfect Circle Setlist
Imagine (John Lennon)
Weak & Powerless
Whats Going On (Marvin Gaye)
People are People (Depeche Mode)
Peace, Love and Understanding (Nick Lowe)
When The Levee Breaks (Led Zeppelin)
Three Libres Remix
Gimme Gimme Gimme (Black Flag)
Counting Bodies Like Sheep To The Rhythm Of The War Drums
Fiddle The Drum (Joni Mitchell)
By & Down *new*