It’s been a very long while—six years in fact—since supergroup A Perfect Circle made so much as a peep. So when the band announced a return from its cryogenic slumber last month with a five-city, multi-night tour, you could hear a collective sigh of relief from not just the band’s many famished fans, but also from the entire genre of art-infused hard rock. Because A Perfect Circle—and to a lesser extent singer Maynard James Keenan’s other band Tool—is heir apparent to Pink Floyd, specializing in epic, post-psychedelic rock ’n’ roll overload that few, if any, acts can pull off these days.
Indeed, those olden days when the enigmatic Keenan was criticized for launching a new band at what seemed like the height of Tool’s popularity are difficult to recall—unless you’re Keenan.
“When I first put together A Perfect Circle, I was asked, ‘Why are you doing that? It sounds just like Tool,’” he says during a recent phone conversation from his wine cellar in Jerome, Ariz. “Now, with 20/20 hindsight, everyone sees that I told them so. I knew it would take several musicians, that I would give the band a seed and the music would grow in different ways, and that we would always go on.”
Indeed, over the course of three acclaimed releases—Mer de Noms (2000), Thirteenth Step (2003) and eMOTIVe (2004)—A Perfect Circle developed its sound. From early songs, such as the howling Led Zep-meets-Jane’s Addiction inspired vortex of “Judith,” to the band’s later cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” rendered in dark and damaged fashion, you hear a band striving for something beyond commercial success.
Still, these shows intend to reach audiences, with three-night stops in each city, each night featuring one of A Perfect Circle’s three albums in its entirety. The band’s current lineup (guitarist/sonic mastermind Billy Howerdel, ex-Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha, drummer Josh Freese, bassist Matt McJunkins) sounds like the missing years never happened, if their appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! is any sign.
Sadly, Las Vegas is the only city not getting a third performance, which means no eMOTIVe album. Keenan chalks it up to scheduling, and not that the Vegas economy has gone down the tubes.
“There’s been a big dent there, sure” he observes, then adds: “Hopefully we can bring a little hope to the area.”