Thursday 13 December 2018

On Stage: A Perfect Circle @ AFAS Live

Maynard James Keenan requires a lot of patience from his fans. Tool keeps us waiting for a new album and live dates, although next year the long waiting comes to an end. A Perfect Circle kept us waiting for some time too, but released a new LP Eat The Elephant earlier this year. They already played the Pinkpop festival and now return for a headline show in Amsterdam.

A Perfect Circle at AFAS Live, December 9 2018

At the Pinkpop festival in June they were playing in broad daylight, which made it hard for their light show to really impress. Now in this venue they make use of the dark environment and the light show comes to full swing. This means the video screens on the small risers and the screens hanging from the ceiling like pieces of glass (or icicles), are bright and clear. The images used on those screens combine with the big screen at the back, where mostly abstract visuals are used to set the mood for a song. For the rest the musicians are mostly scarcely lit and are moving around in the shade. Keenan is nothing more than a dark image at the back and it is hard to see the moves he's making on his riser, like he did at Pinkpop. Billy Howerdell is at the front but also mostly in the shade. Drummer Jeff Friedl is probably the best visible one, on his high riser and with at least a bit of light on him.

This is exactly like they want it of course. It is now allowed to use cameras or phones in any way, enforced by security, so I didn't bring mine (which explains the pictures from Pinkpop being used here). It results in an interesting shadow play together with a dark and gloomy show. A Perfect Circle always had slow rock songs, that don't rely on big eruptions but are getting under your skin. I like this slow, mellow but still heavy sound, a lot. Live the band knows exactly how to reproduce this sound and even can emphasize it with concentrated playing. In the beginning the sounds seems a bit pale, but after a couple of songs I can hear the balance shifting and it gets better. It isn't really crisp but at least the heavy sounds comes across more effectively. Some of the new songs need a bit of time to really sink in, but by now I really like them. Even the strange synth rich 'Hourglass' sounds familiar by now.

There's hardly any talking in between songs and in almost two hours, the bands steadily work their way through twenty songs, including the Brinsley Schwarz cover '(What's So Funny 'bout) Peace, Love and Understanding' and AC/DC's 'Dog Eat Dog' dedicated to Malcolm Young and other people Keenan and co. admire and appreciate. The band knows how to suck you into their musical world and the time flies by as I watch fascinated. The group closes the night with 'Delicious', where Maynard steps into the light for the first time, thanking the crowd and telling security to step down to let people do whatever with their camera of phone. He walks off stage while hundreds of phones light up in the air for a few shots of the last minute of the show. A show that was dark, a bit distant, but at the same time intriguing and well performed, kind of like the band itself.

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01. Eat the Elephant
02. Disillusioned
03. The Hollow
04. Weak and Powerless
05. So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
06. Rose
07. Thomas
08. (What's So Funny 'bout) Peace, Love and Understanding
09. Vanishing
10. The Noose
11. 3 Libras (All Main Courses Mix)
12. The Contrarian
13. TalkTalk
14. Hourglass
15. The Doomed
16. Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums
17. Judith
18. Dog Eat Dog
19. The Package
20. Delicious

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