Music Reviews

A PERFECT CIRCLE Bank of America Pavilion Boston, MA July 12, 2011

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A PERFECT CIRCLE is a magnificent example of why music completes our lives.  So much of the music produced today is forgettable and the artists are replaceable but Maynard James Keenan’s voice will forever be etched in our heads.  All it takes is one listen to “The Noose” and your soul will be scarred forever.  That is one of my favorite songs from any artist. “The Noose”, as well as the rest of the band’s music is so powerful and exceptionally refined.   A PERFECT CIRCLE is an entity of emotional fervor.

A PERFECT CIRCLE hasn’t been to New England in a long time.  I was thrilled to see them in Boston again and the show was sold out.   That makes me happy to know that people still appreciate and support the true musicians of the world.  A round of applause is due to everyone that makes it out to a show.  The very first time I saw them they were opening for NINE INCH NAILS in 2000.  When they began to headline their own shows I got to see them play a college gym in MA and then at PPAC in RI, all of their shows were fantastic.  The gym show was an interesting venue choice but it added a little character to their live show.  No one began throwing basketballs at them so it was all good.

Maynard James Keenan has influenced a countless number of bands but no one will ever come close to his vocal prowess.  TOOL is responsible for initiating a higher standard among musicians and listeners alike.  A PERFECT CIRCLE maintains that artistic integrity and is able to satisfy a broader audience.  I have been in awe of Maynard’s voice since the first time I heard it.  He can shape his voice to be intense and delicate at the same time.  They are two opposing forces that he knows how to merge perfectly to get the desired effect that will welcome you into his emotional journey of sound and delight.  Maynard is so determined to get you to let your guard down and just enjoy the music that he has taken a different approach to being a front man.  When he performs live he takes his place in the background as a shadow person and not the main visual aspect of the performance.  When I first saw them open for NIN, Maynard was right in front but every time they return he positions himself in such a manner that allows for audience interpretation.

The harmonies in A PERFECT CIRCLE are groundbreaking.  Maynard and Billy Howerdel have mastered the art of vocal unity.  I’m also a fan of Howerdel’s other band, ASHES dIVIDE. He is incredibly talented and he opened the show playing a mini piano.   Billy’s rendition of “(What’s so Funny ‘Bout?) Peace, Love and Understanding” will give you goose bumps.

Matt McJunkins does a superb job on the bass and keyboards and filling in the emptiness that Maynard has left in our hearts by not appearing center stage.  Matt is a sensational performer and player and you certainly know why he is included in so many of the bands that I love like ASHES dIVIDE and PUSCIFER.  As much as I enjoyed watching all of the performers, he definitely stole the spotlight that night.  Matt also added his touch to the vocals.

Of course everyone missed Josh Freese but I’m pretty sure he was too busy eating at P.F.Chang’s to make the tour.   Seriously, Josh is spending some time with WEEZER.  Jeff Friedl had some huge shoes to fill but pulled it off and was phenomenal on drums.  Jeff also plays in ASHES dIVIDE, PUSCIFER and DEVO.  The faces that he was making while he was playing were priceless.  James Iha played guitar and keyboards.  You may know James from a little band that he co-founded, THE SMASHING PUMPKINS.

I was extremely pleased with the show and in fact the only disappointing aspect of it was that they didn’t play “Judith.”  I know the people in front of me were screaming “Judith” but their chants were never answered.  The band was kind enough to not waste precious time by walking off the stage in order to give us our encore.  Maynard didn’t feel the need for an ego stroke so they just went for it.

The stage setup was pretty minimal and their use of lighting was brilliant.  They used reflective netted fabric as a backdrop that did an incredible job mimicking an LCD screen.   The colors were gorgeous and vibrant.  There was a point where the stage turned into a rainbow with the varying array of colors.  It is a kick in the pants from a photographer’s standpoint because we were only allowed to photograph the first two songs and the lighting was minimal so to see that after the fact does make me a bit sad.  I would have loved to capture that moment.

The song highlights of the evening for me were “The Noose”, “Orestes”, “The Hollow”, “The Outsider”,   “Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums”, “Gravity”, “Passive”, “Imagine”, “Gimmie Gimmie Gimme” and “(What’s so Funny ‘Bout?) Peace, Love and Understanding.”  Okay, so I pretty much loved the entire set.  They also played a new song, “By and Down.”  Don’t miss A PERFECT CIRCLE when they come to your town.


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