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Concert Reviews:
A Perfect Circle's return is welcome at The Fox

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

Posted: Wednesday, November 22, 2017

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DETROIT -- A Perfect Circle ran the risk of killing more buzz than it generated before the group hit the stage Tuesday night, Nov. 21, at the Fox Theatre.

With four taped P.A. announcements and stern warning signs posted throughout the venue about the concert's "zero camera" policy -- instant eviction and implied disembowelment for violators -- things weren't exactly starting on a fuzzy, welcoming note. Fortunately, however, even the notion of sneaking a cell phone photo or video was forgotten once APC lit into a 19-song, hour-and-45-minute exposition of arty, murky anthems that was nothing less than captivating and powerful, and a welcome return for the band after a prolonged absence.

Best of all, the quintet -- led by Tool/Puscifer frontman Maynard James Keenan and guitarist Billy Howerdel -- had new material to play as well as the promise of a new album in 2018 that got as big an ovation as any of the songs when Keenan made the promise from the stage.

As he did with Tool during June at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, the Scottville, Mich.-raised singer reveled at being back in his home state -- or, as he noted early in the show "Home. Sweet. Home." And talking about the mixed reception to APC's 2004 protest album "eMOTIVe" before playing the group's moody version of John Lennon's "Imagine" from it, Keenan -- obscured on a low-lit rear-stage riser throughout the show -- reminded the Fox crowd that, "I'm from Michigan; You can't tell me what to do."

APC started things with all five black-clad members silhouetted against a gauzy curtain to begin an epic version of "The Package," the screen falling as the song reached its hard-hitting crescendo. It was for all purposes a best-of show, heavy on heavyweight favorites such as "Rose," "Vanishing," "Magdalena," "Counting Bodies Like Sheep..." and the All Main Courses Mix of "3 Libras." The quintet was in strong, muscular form, too, with bassist Matt McJunkins and drummer Jeff Friedl laying down a formidable bottom to support Howerdel and James Iha's textured guitarscapes, while Keenan engaged in varying degrees of animation behind them.

The three new songs, positioned near the end of the show, gave the concert a fresh charge and certainly generated excitement for the album. "Hour Glass" boasted a pompy, even poppy and spacious electro attack, while APC's live rendition of its new single "The Doomed" was pulverizing. "Feathers," meanwhile, finished the night on a New Wavey vibe in the Cure/Depeche Mode mold, with an ebb-and-flow that resolved in a Howerdel guitar solo.

It all made up for lost time, which Keenan acknowledged when he noted "it's been awhile." But, he promised, "we will be back," and it was clear most of the Fox crowd planned to be there.

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