Love was the answer at A Perfect Circle’s Comerica Theatre show November 20, which marked the conclusion of the supergroup’s U.S. tour run.
At least that’s the point vocalist and Arizonan Maynard James Keenan emphasized several times throughout the evening while discussing the tumultuous times in which we’re living.
“I think I smell marijuana,” Keenan at one point said jokingly, adding that if love is the answer, the marijuana is preventing him from remembering the question.
That was at about the halfway point of A Perfect Circle’s lengthy, 20-song set, which spanned works from the quintet’s three studio albums as well as its cover and remix projects. The band was supported by trip-hop pioneer Tricky and electronic duo Night Club.
Kicking off its set on a light note, A Perfect Circle began with Eat the Elephant’s title track. Primarily driven by piano, and complemented by lead guitarist Billy Howerdel’s knack for creating ambient textures, the song set the mood for the evening.
The shadow-shrouded stage and spotlights quickly subsided as the band continued onward with another Eat the Elephant cut, “Disillusioned.” In typical A Perfect Circle fashion, Keenan performed from farther back, with Howerdel placed front and center to the crowd, along with the similarly up-front drummer Jeff Friedl, bassist Matt McJunkins and rhythm guitarist/keyboardist Greg Edwards.
“It’s time to put the silicon obsession down,” Keenan sang during “Disillusioned,” mirroring the heavily enforced “No Photo / Video” rule plastered on signs throughout the venue and repeatedly reinforced via loudspeaker prior to the show.
Taking things back, the group then performed Mer de Noms’ “The Hollow” and Thirteenth Step’s “Weak and Powerless” before bringing things forward again to Eat the Elephant’s “So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish.” Arguably one of the odder cuts in the camp’s discography, the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy-referencing song is very upbeat and could even be considered lighter and poppier in sound than much of the group’s other offerings, despite its heavy lyrical subject matter.
Throughout the approximately two-hour set, A Perfect Circle performed tracks spanning its multi-decade career, from Thirteenth Step’s “Vanishing” and “The Noose” to Mer de Noms favorites like “Judith.”
Though the set encompassed the band’s three main studio albums, also revisited were cuts from its cover and remix albums. Midway through the evening, the band revisited its cover of Brinsley Schwarz’s “Peace Love and Understanding” from its anti-war, primarily cover album, eMOTIVe, which was released at the height of the George W. Bush administration. Rather than performing a standard rendition of their 2000 single “3 Libras,” the band performed the “All Main Courses Mix” crafted by Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja and featured on the 2004 project aMOTION.
Arguably a highlight of the evening, however, was the very industrial “Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums,” which was performed nearer to the set’s conclusion.
Though the band managed to encompass the bulk of its discography, Eat the Elephant, released in April, was of course the focus. The majority of the album’s 12-song tracklist was performed, from singles like “The Contrarian,” “The Doomed” and “TalkTalk” to the robotic vocal-featuring “Hourglass.”
As the setlist’s conclusion began to wind closer, Keenan announced a tribute to the “late, great Malcolm Young” of AC/DC, who passed away just over a year ago. Announcing that the song, a cover of the legendary band’s “Dog Eat Dog,” is not one performed often by A Perfect Circle, Keenan said it will be the B-side to “So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish,” which will be released as a limited edition 7-inch record for Record Store Day on Black Friday. Likely an unexpected moment for some, it wasn’t unwelcome.
For the final two songs, the band returned to Thirteenth Step for its 7-minute opening track, “The Package,” a standout song in the band’s nearly 20 years of existence. Finally, the evening concluded with Eat the Elephant’s “Delicious.” It was here where Keenan took a moment to tell security the stand down, allowing the audience to finally take out their “stupid” phones for pictures and video.
Though “Delicious” could be argued as an underrated cut from the band’s new release, it made the perfect conclusion to the evening, and stood out as a highlight, leaving the audience satisfied with some photos and videos to commemorate the experience.
Eat the Elephant
Weak and Powerless
So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
Peace Love and Understanding (Brinsley Schwarz cover)
3 Libras (All Main Courses Mix)
Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums
Dog Eat Dog (AC/DC cover)