Show Review: A Perfect Circle performing eMOTIVe at The Fillmore, 11/18/2010

by Jonathan Pirro on November 19, 2010



As massive undertakings go, a tour focused around three-show residencies, full-album sets, and no-opener-just-what-you-paid-to-see performances is pretty high up on the list. The ante is upped even further when the third night of said shows is focused on an album entirely comprised of cover songs — most of which, according to the band tonight, had never been played live before. The thousand-plus fans that showed up to witness A Perfect Circle perform these songs at the final night of their Fillmore residency reacted to such a statement with awe and applause — while all good things must, eventually, come to an end, the precision and care that the band emphasized in tonight’s show helped their stay come to a brilliant conclusion, and the crowd was all the more excited to witness it.

While the first and second nights of the band’s extended stay saw a backdrop with geometric shapes and arcane runes, tonight’s stage setup featured a great wall of camouflage netting, similar to that on the ceiling, with the two crescent moons in the band’s logo emblazoned upon it and arcing over the center riser, where rhythm guitarist James Iha would reside when the band arrived onstage at 8:30pm. While the band took their same places, and the lighting scheme mimicked the week’s earlier performances, the songs each saw some new interpretations that made the band’s performance of eMOTIVe that much more exciting.

A tiny piano was provided to frontman Billy Howerdel for the first song of the night, “Annihiliation”, looking even smaller against his tall, slender frame as he plinked away at the keys for the introductory song. The majority of the set was relatively similar to the performances on eMOTIVe, with sample loops running behind some of the songs to add a familiar depth: “Peace Love and Understanding” was backed by an acoustic guitar loop, which Iha picked up a few measures in, and “When The Levee Breaks” kept the muffled, throaty drum sound before Josh Freese took up his sticks to thunder out the rest of the rhythm. The aptly-named juggernaut “Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums” was mostly absent of its industrial snarl, instead being given new live by the demonic guitars of Iha and Howerdel, while singer Maynard James Keenan roared the lyrics ferociously at the crowd. (As a reinterpretation, or continuation, of theĀ Thirteenth Step song “Pet”, it gave its partner a run for its money.)

Two particular surprises were offered to the lucky attendees of A Perfect Circle’s final night at the Fillmore. The final song of the album, “Fiddle And The Drum”, saw the entire band abandoning the stage, allowing Keenan to perform the song alone with a small piano; this otherwise beautiful performance was, sadly, marred by roars and shouts from the more enthusiastic crowd members whenever a noticeable pause was slipped into the lyrics. When the band returned for their pseudo-encore, Keenan remarked that even James Iha’s jokes — terribly cheesy in quality, and used to segue from the album to the encores each night — were not as bad as the “mashup” that they had planned for the last song of the night. Despite his cynicism, the crowd went fairly wild over the piece, which was a blend of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Diary Of A Madman” and The Cure’s “Lovesong”, with riffs, time signatures, and lyrics all crossing paths with one another for one extended jam that proved to be a magnificent end to this run of shows.

These three nights were the first times I have ever seen A Perfect Circle perform live. Having been an avid fan of the band ever since the release of Mer de Noms, the chance to see the band play their entire catalogue in such an intimate setting was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and each night was fantastic to behold. While some of the fans I met placed Thirteenth Step as their favorite night of the residency, each night held its own surprises and merits, so one’s favorite show was more likely selected from which songs would be played. In all three performances, the musicianship between the members of A Perfect Circle was second to none, each member performing their parts with the utmost precision and care and delivering a rock-solid performance. Whether or not they will continue to play, record, and tour after the final nights of this tour, this has been a magnificent undertaking — a brilliant opportunity for the musicians to play together, and a wonderful treat for their greatest fans.

The eMOTIVe setlist

The eMOTIVe setlist

Jonathan Pirro

Off-kilter multimedia enthusiast.

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