Show Review: A Perfect Circle performing Thirteenth Step at The Fillmore, 11/17/2010

by Jonathan Pirro on November 18, 2010

Thirteenth Step

Thirteenth Step

The average passerby outside The Fillmore this evening might have been puzzled at the sight that met their eyes. Several hundred people — maybe around a thousand at the most — all lined up next to the post office? There’s no big tour bus, no semi full of stage gear, parked out in front of the famous club. The more keen-eyed observers — specifically, those who might have happened by this location yesterday — might also have spotted a great deal of people from the night before this one. What would possibly draw so many people back again? It’s still two hours before the doors open, but the devoted fans of A Perfect Circle don’t mind the wait; tonight marks the second of the band’s 3-night album-performance residency at the Fillmore, with their sophomore effort Thirteenth Step taking center stage for the evening that was to follow.

As singer Maynard James Keenan would say later on that night, the message of excitement that ran through the crowd was a simple one: “Welcome to Night Two.”

Those who had been present at the first night of the band’s extended stay knew what was in store for the evening, once the band marched onstage just after 8:30pm: a solid performance of an album — in this case, the aforementioned Thirteenth Step — played from start to finish, with little room to breathe and pause between the compositions. While maintaining the same stage setup — a large white screen inlaid with the runic alphabet from the band’s debut, Mer de Noms, with a large canopy of mosquito netting separating the overhead lights from the stage —  tonight’s performance seemed to focus more heavily on detailed and well-timed lighting choices than had been present at the first night. The color and intensity of the lights ebbed and flowed with that of the music, with menacing songs like “The Outsider” seeing the band bathed in hellish crimson, and gentle, snowlike spotlights decorating the quintet for their haunting performance of “A Stranger”. The band had changed outfits as well, opting for slightly more formal attire than the T-shirts and jeans of the night before, and spent less time moving in favor of greater levels of concentration, which echoed out of the loudspeakers in the form of a marvelous performance of Thirteenth Step.

As with the songs of Mer de Noms, the members of A Perfect Circle threw a few interesting twists into tonight’s set. Interludes “Crimes” and “Lullaby” were extended out to full-song length, with a flurry of extra solos on behalf of both lead guitarist Billy Howerdel and drummer Josh Freese, while rhythm guitarist James Iha peppered the air with subtle yet sharply grabbing notes that pierced the otherwise calm space of the theater. The originally bizarre and mildly amusing “The Nurse Who Loved Me” saw completely new life after its first verse, which brought the full band in to throw new key changes, a sinister rhythm, and an explosive set of chords at the conclusion of the song. Those who were not lucky enough to make it to the first night of the run were treated to the “All Main Courses Mix” of “3 Libras” as the first encore of the night, with the dirge-like, stomping cover of “Imagine” as the closing number of the short, but fantastic, performance.

The general mood of the crowd passing out of the theater was that the zenith of A Perfect Circle’s residency had been reached, surpassed, and then reached again by the end of tonight’s performance. With only one night left to go, it will be interesting to see which songs get their own set of new twists, if any, and what sort of unusual encores the fans should expect at the end of the night. A devoted fan of A Perfect Circle myself, I am inclined to side with the crowd on their earlier assessment; Thirteenth Step is my favorite of their records, as the album is the most intricate, but also most simple, of their three released works; although it will be difficult to top tonight’s performance, I will still be waiting with rapt attention for the beginning of the final night, and the performance of their third record, eMOTIVe.

Thirteenth Step setlist

Thirteenth Step setlist

Jonathan Pirro

Off-kilter multimedia enthusiast.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Pamela Mendez November 21, 2010 at 9:29 pm

It was an awesome night, I have been a fan since the beginning but had yet to see them live. Article completely describes the phenomenal show it was aside from the drunk girl behind me that wouldn’t shut up.

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