For its only live performance of 2012, A Perfect Circle sounded like a band that’s been touring steadily, playing with impressive precision in front of an appreciative audience at Planet Hollywood’s PH Live. With essentially no new material since 2004 (a single new song, “By and Down,” closed the set), the band relied on its three existing albums, pulling nine songs from the covers-heavy eMOTIVe, which meant that more than a third of the set list was devoted to songs originally recorded by other artists. It was an odd choice that sometimes stalled the momentum of the otherwise energetic show.
- A Perfect Circle
- December 29, PH Live
It was easy to see the contrast between the covers and the original material when “The Outsider,” one of APC’s biggest radio hits, was sandwiched in between the band’s dull versions of Depeche Mode’s “People Are People” and “(What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding,” both with lead vocals by guitarist Billy Howerdel. The crowd response to “The Outsider” was huge, while the covers were greeted with much more muted applause. That was the case throughout the show, and although the band played every song impeccably, the dark, dirge-y arrangements of classics like John Lennon’s “Imagine” and Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” didn’t do those songs any favors.
Still, APC hits like “The Hollow,” “Weak and Powerless” and “3 Libras” sounded great, even more so thanks to the stellar acoustics in the infrequently used venue (memo to Planet Hollywood: Please stage more concerts here). Singer Maynard James Keenan’s vocals are often mixed low when he performs with Tool, but here each band member could be heard clearly, and Keenan’s vocals were particularly forceful and strong.
The notoriously eccentric Keenan did take a little time to warm up to the crowd (he offered an affectless, “Thank you. Happy New Year,” after the second song), but eventually ended up cracking corny jokes during the band introductions and mocking the idea of an encore break (“This is the part where we pretend to leave the stage”). As is his custom, Keenan stayed in the shadows at the back of the stage, and Howerdel and bassist Matt McJunkins were the only ones who really moved around. But the band seemed happy to be back onstage together, and the latest time away hasn’t diminished their musical cohesion. Now all they need are a few more new songs to play.
“Weak and Powerless”
“What’s Going On”
“People Are People”
“(What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding”
“When the Levee Breaks”
“Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie”
“Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums”
“By and Down”