By Ellen Eldridge
A part of every fan feels proud – privileged even – to clutch a ticket to a sold-out show. Considering the fact that A Perfect Circle sold out the Tabernacle in Atlanta months before the July 20 show meant many paid a pretty penny for the privilege as scalpers sold tickets at well above the face value right up to the last minute.
Those who arrived early enjoyed a charismatic and punchy set by punk-screamo, all-female, Japanese band Red Bacteria Vacuum – which sounds like someone pulled three random words from an English dictionary and went with it. Though the style of music played on melted drums and accented with cheerleader poses didn’t quite fit what APC fans would want, the girls did a great job entertaining. A well-warmed crowd eagerly anticipated the mystery and power of headliners A Perfect Circle.
The stage setup told spoke to the war waged within the minds of the band members – each cover song performed felt like a vicariously absorbed message answering very deep and personal questions. “From where do you draw inspiration?” was answered with an emotive cover of “Imagine.” Singer Maynard James Keenan’s penchant for obscurity made photography a challenge for the pros in the pit, but the vibrato in his voice melted through the strict rules of no cameras nor cell phones with the answer that this evening was about the sound ringing in your head – albeit quietly. The way the harmonies between Billy Howerdel and Keenan bounced back and forth across the stage sang out like charged atoms rhythmically pulsing over the heads of the fans.
A Perfect Circle remains one of those bands whose members believe in the power of the live experience. The dry humor of Keenan and the interplay of the musicians who play close-eyed and full of concentration prove the power of music. The cover of Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks” hit home with fans who couldn’t find a place to stand in the packed place. Security guards continually told fans to move from the aisles and the effect of the words, “When the levee breaks, you have no place to stay,” drawn-out and cathartic, made sense.
The steam in the Tabernacle felt like a sauna so much so that when the chorus, “with your halo slipping down…” in “The Noose” played fans felt purged of demons within – sweat sliding the personal and metaphorical halos of those in the audience right down to the ground. Even Howerdel added just enough feedback to his solo to portray frustration without being annoying.
From start to honest ending (where Keenan introduced his encore as such without smoke nor mirrors), A Perfect Circle more than rocked the Tabernacle – they made love to it, caressed it while it cried, and soaked up its steam before departing a satisfied crowd for the evening.
Red Bacteria Vacuum:
A Perfect Circle: