A Perfect Circle closed out their three-night stay at the Avalon in Los Angeles Wednesday night, exploring new arrangements in a set that spanned their third album eMOTIVe and just a bit beyond.
Most of eMOTIVe’s material – a collection of totally reworked cover songs that loosely fit a political protest narrative – had never been explored live. Their stage execution, only the second time ever after last week’s Arizona dates, was executed with lessening rough edges as each night wore on, ending in a remarkably focused, powerful performance that left fans voracious for new material.
James Iha tried his hand at stand-up comedy a third time as techs set up Maynard’s keyboard for Fiddle and the Drum, the jokes just as deliciously terrible as the previous nights. Fiddle itself was more subdued than the gorgeously layered album version, singer Maynard Keenan employing a keyboard to provide harmonic accompaniment while remaining in the central range of delivery. All the same, it was a fantastically moving performance that honored the Joni Mitchell original beautifully.
What’s Going On possessed an amplified air-pop element, while Let’s Have a War was particularly menacing, the seething rendition of the Fear classic bathed in a green light as drummer Josh Freese’s blurred hands worked up a tornado of skittering beats.
The night’s most valuable player was, without question, Freese. An absolute beat blizzard, his inexhaustible fills and polyrhythmic prowess lifted the entire performance.
A surprising highlight was the Pet reinterpretation Countin’ Bodies Like Sheep while, as well as the two closers – Massive Attack’s Three Libras remix and Thirteenth Step track Noose.
If you’re a fan out West, find a way into the show. If you have to, grab one of those little scalper rats by the tail and shake the tickets out of him.