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A Perfect Circle show off at the Bridgestone Arena

Nashville was treated to a night of shake weights, legendary names, and good music

By: Robert Forte

Despite the fact that A Perfect Circle has only released three studio recordings since their inception as a band in 1999, with one of those records essentially being a cover album, the band continues to remain immensely popular.

This condition likely exists because many of A Perfect Circle’s fan base are disciples or Maynard James Kennan and his other musical projects which include Tool and Puscifer.

It should be noted, however, that Billy Howerdel’s contribution to the band’s sound and ultimate musical output should also be taken into consideration, as without his immense input there wouldn’t be A Perfect Circle to even begin with.

Howerdel originally formed the band alongside Kennan with Troy Van Leeuwen of Failure and Queens of the Stone fame on guitar, Paz Lenchantin on bass and Josh Freese on drums.

Both Howerdel and Kennan remain; however, there have been a few changes to A Perfect Circle’s lineup over the years, with former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha, Matt McJunkins of Eagles of Death Metal and Jeff Friedel from Devo on drums all now in the fold.

A Perfect Circle, who were in the midst of winding down their current spring tour, brought all the swaying emotions and spell binding music with them to the the halls of Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena to the delight of the nearly 20,000 Music City crazies in attendance on the evening.

Choosing to begin the performance with the haunting “The Package” was a stroke of genius as the tension the song exerts deliberately builds the exact kind of musical astriction that makes A Perfect Circle’s sound so unique.

Adding to the mystique was the fact the band started the performance behind a massive translucent curtain that served to create gargantuan silhouette images of each of the band’s members.

Howerdel and Kennan, without question, chose this subtle approach as of way of telling the audience to pay attention to the music that’s about to happen on the lighted stage.

A not-so-subtle way of creating this environment was the fact the band had security strongly policing the policy that anyone attempting to take videos or pictures during the performance would be subsequently relieved of their concert experience post haste.

If that doesn’t get concert-goers attending A Perfect Circle’s shows to pay attention to the music, versus the digital world far too many individuals seem permanently connected to these days, what will?

The performance took on more of a traditional rock show feel in terms of both music and stage productions values with the more upbeat “The Hollow,” and the stage being a wash in brilliant orange and yellow blinding light that came next.

The entirety of the show would follow this structure, with moments of stirring evocative and emotive slower numbers such as “The Noose” being immediately counterbalanced by more mainstream rockers like, “Weak and Powerless.”

It was on the aforementioned track that the remainder of the band not named Howerdel and Kennan truly began to shine on the evening.

A beyond animated Mcjunkins, fervent Friedel and a bit more reserved Iha all delivered a level of a performance that did nothing but draw the audience that much further into A Perfect Circle’s musical spider web.

The band did provide the Nashville faithful a glimpse into the future by offering up two yet unreleased new tracks in the form of “Hourglass” and ultimate show closer “Feathers.”

The former being a more upbeat although pitching and swaying number itself that would fit in perfectly alongside almost any track A Perfect Circle has ever released.

Additional highlights on the evening included a transfixing, “Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums,” two of the band’s more mainstream hits in “3 Libras” and “The Outsider” as well as a polarizing take on the track, “Thinking of You.”

Prior to launching into the song Kennan made a quip, “Now that I’m older, the thing I think I’m missing most from popular music these days is more songs about anal sex.”

During the song’s performance Kennan would again provide a moment of levity while during the track’s middle break down he commented, “I got these shake weights for my birthday. There’s not a lot of time on the road to work out so if you don’t mind I’m going doing my work out during the show.”

Kennan then subsequently began doing what could only be considered an extremely non-traditional shake weight inspired work out.

At the conclusion of the song Kennan added, “Well if you’re going to sing songs about anal sex you got to be in shape.  The best tool for keeping in shape, shake weights.”

Howerdel and Kennan have bemoaned the current state of rock music during interviews in recent years and both have cited this as one of the primary factors behind the band reforming to tour this year and for their getting back into the studio with the goal of releasing new music later this year or in early 2018.

Based on the surreal and sublime level of performance A Perfect Circle provided to the masses in Nashville recently, I’m guessing Howerdel, Kennan and the additional members of A Perfect Circle have every intention of continuing to shake up the rock music status quo or at the very least, continuing to deliver live music performances that leave fans perplexed, bewildered, entranced and begging for more.  

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