A Perfect Circle bring their unique show to Mohegan Sun
A Perfect Circle is currently on their “We are still around” tour, as dubbed by Keenan himself, and are thrilling audiences with not only a fantastic show but also with the promise of a new album in 2018. Originating members, Maynard James Keenan and Billy Howerdel, have a long-standing relationship that began way before APC’s release of their first full-length album, Mer de Noms in 2000. And even though both musicians have kept themselves rather busy with other projects over the years, they have also maintained a steady flow with APC and have several releases that have kept their solid fan base interested all along their journey.
My personal journey with APC began back in 2000 as well. As a hard-core fan of Tool, when I heard that Keenan was in another project I was compelled to check it out. Mer de Noms sounded nothing like Tool and even though Keenan took an obviously different approach with the way he vocalized the lyrics, it still had his familiar tone and the total package just sucked me in.
The first time I saw APC live was in August of 2003. I have been afforded some amazing experiences over the years revolving around seeing Keenan live and this was one for my record book. The show was at Irving Plaza in New York City, a pretty intimate venue and tickets sold out at lightning speed, I was devastated at the thought that I would not be able to attend. But once in awhile I run a streak of luck and I won a ticket from Toolarmy.com. I soon found out the opening act would be Pigmy Love Circus, a band that Danny Carey, Tool’s drummer, had been part of for many years and with that in mind my husband Charles accompanied me to the venue hoping to score a ticket somehow. We had also met up with our friend Robin, who was also hoping to score a ticket too.
Deciding to split up, Charles went one way, Robin the other. Charles came back with a ticket, but only one. Robin waited with us on line as we slowly entered the venue and just as we were about to enter, a man in front of us heard us commiserating over the fact that Robin would not see the show with us. He turned around and said something to the nature of, “My buddy can’t make it, do you want his ticket?” We most likely simultaneously shouted out “Yes!” The show was amazing, and so was our story of how we got to see it together. And to boot we also had the privilege of meeting Danny Carey for the first time that night. A few days after the Irving plaza show Charles and I hit the road on a cross-country journey. The trip was planned long before APC had made any tour announcements, but timing lined up that we would be able to catch them again in San Diego, CA during their show at Lollapalooza, with featuring acts Audioslave and Jane’s Addiction.
The last time I had seen APC live was in 2011 when they did a run performing mostly songs of their Emotive album, so when I heard earlier this year there was talk of new music and a tour I was excited to say the least. Once the tour was announced I was able to work two shows into my schedule and was waiting on pins and needles for November to come as I would be attending the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY on November 2 and the Mohegan Sun Arena at the casino in Uncasville, CT on November 5. I was approved to cover the show at Mohegan Sun so my plans were to study the first two songs at the Barclays show and take notes so I could prepare myself.
As I watched the photographers in the pit at Barclays I had butterflies of excitement in my belly, I could see the challenge they faced and new first hand the thrill of what they were feeling in that moment. The show was truly amazing and the band was undeniably tight. The show flowed seamlessly and Keenan’s vocals were to perfection. They performed a total of eighteen songs as follows … “The Package,” “The Hollow,” “The Noose,” “Weak and Powerless,” “Rose,” “Imagine,” “By and Down,” “Thomas,” “(What’s So Funny ’bout) Peace, Love and Understanding,” “Thinking of You,” “Vanishing,” “Magdalena,” “Hourglass,” “Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums,” “3 Libras” the All Main Courses Mix, “The Doomed,” “The Outsider” and “Feathers.”
Two days later I was off on a trip to Connecticut, camera in hand and in full review mode. I had been to this venue once before in 2012 when Tool performed there, but I had never photographed a show there. As I waited for the venue’s escort, I was met with the several other photographers I would be sharing the pit with and we shared our stories of other show experiences. When the time came, so did word that we would not be in the photo pit, we were told this show will be photographed from the soundboard. That is the way it goes sometimes and the need to be flexible in your thoughts and ready for anything is key. And with a massively strict no photo policy I was happy either way.
The opening act for this entire tour is The Beta Machine, a band that is the brainchild of Matt McJunkins (vocals, bass, keyboards) and Jeff Friedl (drums). I first heard about them directly from McJunkins during a conversation I had with him after a show that he had just performed with Carina Round in Brooklyn, NY in October of 2012. At that time he told me that he and Friedl were working on new music, the name of the new band and to look out for them soon. I did keep an eye out and was excited to hear their music earlier this year with the release of the EP, All This Time.
Joining them on this tour is Claire Acey (vocals, keyboards) and Nick Perez (guitars, keyboards). With deep blue lighting throughout their set, they performed a total of six songs including, “Intruder,” “Again & Again,” “All This Time,” A New Song, “The End,” and “Pictures.” Their music is deep and powerfully smooth, personally I am really looking forward to what they will release next. If you are not familiar with them, this is a band to check out much sooner than later.
Once the time came to go back to the soundboard to photograph APC’s first two songs, I did realize that the soundboard shoot will make for some awesome shots of the first half of the first song, “The Package,” when the stage is covered in a thin white sheath so only silhouettes can be seen of Maynard James Keenan (vocals), Billy Howerdel (guitar), James Iha (guitar, keyboards), Matt McJunkins (bass, keyboards), and Jeff Friedl (drums).
From there the stage lights remained rather minimal and Keenan stayed mostly in the dark as he almost always does while he’s up on stage. Like the Barclays show the musicianship was spot on and it was another fantastic show. The first half of the show they played the same songs, “The Hollow,” “The Noose,” “Weak and Powerless,” “Rose,” “Imagine,” “By and Down,” “Thomas” and “(What’s So Funny ’bout) Peace, Love and Understanding.” But then we were treated to “Orestes” and they continued with “Vanishing,” “Magdalena,” “A Stranger,” “3 Libras” the All Main Courses Mix, “Hourglass,” “Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums,” “The Doomed,” “The Outsider” and closed with “Feathers.”
Keenan, who is at times a man of few words while on stage, did speak rather frequently during both the shows I attended, including as I mentioned earlier, that there will be a new APC album to come next year. I know I’m definitely thrilled at the thought of new music, especially since I have really grown to love their new single, The Doomed. And while that is something to look forward to, I would not want you to miss your chance to see them live on this tour as it continues till early December throughout the United States.
Remaining tour dates: https://www.aperfectcircle.com/
Photographer/writer: Diane Woodcheke http://www.dwoodcheke.com/
A Perfect Circle
The Beta Machine