Since I began attending rock & metal shows in 2003, every time I’ve read news of an upcoming A Perfect Circle tour, I would think to myself “is THIS the year they’ll perform in Saint Louis?” Unfortunately, time after time I would not see our city on the list of dates, meaning if I wanted to see them I’d have to travel elsewhere. However, just like the old saying, good things come to those who wait. Instead of traveling to Chicago or Denver or everywhere else they chose to play, I waited for my turn to see them.
I remember the first time I heard Thirteenth Step like it was yesterday… On the night of its release, the entire band was live, in-studio on with Adam Corrolla and Dr. Drew on their nationally-syndicated sex-ed pop culture entertainment program LoveLine that used to air nightly on our local alternative rock station 105.7 the Point. During that night’s show, the album was played in its entirety with the band discussing the meaning behind each track and how it came together in the recording studio. The next day, I bought Thirteenth Step at Best Buy and a love affair was born.
So, FIFTEEN YEARS after falling in love with their 2nd album, Thirteenth Step, A Perfect Circle finally announced a headlining tour that included my hometown; on the infamous stoner holiday, 4/20! Unable to afford the TOOL/PRIMUS show last year due to financial strain and other circumstances, I jumped at the opportunity to see A Perfect Circle in a small arena setting. Needless to say, the fact that APC has only come to town once or twice in their existence, this show was a “must-see” and meant another band I could check off of my “bucket list”.
I purchased tickets on StubHub – as I normally do for sporting events and concerts – for roughly $90 apiece for myself and a buddy of mine who’d go with me. Instead of buying a more expensive reserved seat on the floor and risking having tall people in front of me blocking my view, I opted for two seats in the upper bowl straight center from the stage. As it turned out, we were the first row in our section with nothing but the railing in front of us and no possible obstruction in front of us. These seats were great; much better than being on the Floor and wondering whether or not your purchase was worth it or not after dealing with someone 7 feet tall in your way throughout the show. I have only seen Maynard James Keenan perform live once before, with Tool, during their 10,000 Days touring cycle, so I was even more excited to hear those unique vocals live in person once again.
Unfortunately, there was an opening “act” that started performing as fans were making their way into the arena. Honestly, I had more fun watching spectators’ reactions to the horrid music than I had listening to it. They were a duo that featured one member pressing buttons on a keyboard / MIDI controller while the other member “rapped” into the mic over the beat. As I told my friend sitting next to me, we could’ve made the same music while sitting in my basement, drinking beer and doing karaoke, “Damnit”, we thought, “then we could’ve opened for A Perfect Circle.” In all seriousness, they were terrible and they received the loudest response from the crowd when they announced they were about to play their final song of the night.
After another 20-30 minute break, the lights went out and it was time for the main event. The light show and visuals on stage were both fairly simple for an arena tour, but fit the mood of the performance perfectly. As seen below in my wonderfully grainy iPhone 6+ pictures, Maynard was on a raised platform in the middle of the stage for the whole set with the majority of the focus being on the band playing around him as in typical Maynard fashion. To the right of Maynard (looking towards the stage) was drummer Jeff Friedl, with former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist and founding APC mastermind Billy Howerdel in front of him. The other side of the stage featured Matt McJunkins from Eagles of Death Metal on bass with James Iha behind him on a raised platform handling rhythm guitar and keys.
The setlist was excellent, featuring the singles from their studio albums, two of the more popular covered songs from eMotive and two new tracks from their highly-anticipated new album (which, in typically mystical Maynard fashion, no details have been released about). Ultimately, I was very happy with the arrangement of songs they played that night:
1. The Package
2. The Hollow
3. The Noose
4. Weak and Powerless
6. Imagine *John Lennon cover*
7. By and Down
9. People Are People *Depeche Mode cover*
12. Thinking of You
13. Hourglass *NEW song*
14. Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drum
15. A Stranger
17. The Outsider
19. Feathers *NEW song*
Opening the set with The Package was a quite a treat, hearing them start with a such a unique song that showcases Maynard’s exquisite vocal range. Next up was one of their more radio-friendly songs from their first album, The Hollow, followed by my favorite songs, The Noose. The lighting and visuals of stars streaking through the stage while they covered John Lennon’s Imagine, which can be viewed below, was something special.
A funny conversation I had with my friend that went with me involves the song Vanishing. The verses are slow and poetic, featuring a line that has always made me wonder what he is really saying… It goes like this…
Run away… Terrified child…
Move away… and fuck the tornado(tomato?)
Obviously, why anyone would sing about fucking a tomato is beyond me. Then again, this is Maynard we’re talking about, who wrote a Tool song in German that sounds evil as all hell that is probably really about baking a batch of cookies. Regardless, you think he’s going to say TORNADO but then he throws an “M” sound in there and it fucks with your mind! I recorded this specific portion of the song for our investigation, and your entertainment. Tell us what YOU think…
All in all, waiting fifteen years to see A Perfect Circle was well worth it. Merchandise was outrageously overpriced at $90 for a hoodie, $50 for a tour shirt, etc. so needless to say I didn’t buy anything. That doesn’t mean a whole slew of other attendees didn’t throw their money at the table as if they had just won big in Vegas. Nevertheless, the only thing I’ve been thinking about since this show is how I hope I can see them again one day…