After many years on hiatus, Maynard James Keenan‘s ornate side project A Perfect Circle have returned to the touring life (and apparently to the studio as well). They made a stop here at the Air Canada Centre this past Wednesday night, where a strict picture ban made for an interesting night.
No phones were permitted to be taken out at any moment during the show, with the band wanting to bring back the experience of a classic concert before technology was so prevalent. It was an effective measure that definitely created an ambience unlike any recent show in history.
The beginning of the performance saw the arena plunged into total darkness without the glow of digital devices, the band playing behind a curtain for opening song, “The Package”. The curtain would drop during the song’s crescendo, but the band remained shrouded in darkness for the entire night, lit from the back so they appeared only as silhouettes. The phone ban also forced people to use lighters during a cover of John Lennon‘s “Imagine”, and for a moment the arena looked more like a Gothic candle hall than a concert venue.
Appropriately, the stage set-up was a very distinct vibe meant to mimic an “olde magick” theme. It looked as if the band were playing in a 17th century Pennsylvania forest filled with dark spirits, with modern digital lighting providing an otherworldly juxtaposition. It was an ideal fit for the ethereal nature of songs like “The Hollow”, “The Noose” and “Rose”, all delivered by Keenan in his velvety pitch-perfect tenor.
There were a few interesting set choices. “Three Libras” was played with a jarringly heavy arrangement rather than its meager original version. Another cover – Depeche Mode‘s “People Are People”- was one of a few selections from the band’s anti-war collection, Emotive. The group’s biggest hit “Judith” was entirely omitted.
Keenan bantered a few times throughout the night in his classic sardonic style, but one statement was no joke: the promise of a new APC album in 2018. A roar of approval arose from the crowd, leading to the hope that the band may very well make another stop here within the year with yet another unique experience up their sleeves.