A Perfect Circle/Roseland Aug 19, 2000

Filed under: Live Music — doktorjohn August 19, 2000 @ 1:51 am

During the 1996 recording of the Tool album Aenema, front man Maynard James Keenan (MJK) learned that his guitar tech, Billy Howerdel, was quietly working on the side on his own, creating computerized, symphonic-length compositions intended for a female vocalist.

Recognizing the potential and ever prepared to explore his feminine side MJK offered to be that vocalist if they could succeed in cutting down Howerdel’s works to song lengths. They added a female vocalist on bass guitar, a second guitar and a drummer.

, a highly literate iconoclast and devotee of the late anthropologist, Joseph Campbell, has matched himself to Howerdel’s music masterfully, bridging the monumental guitar swells and drum rolls with his shrill, passionate vocal melodies. His lyrics, based upon highly personal ideas and criticisms are poetically presented in mythical-spiritual terms.

Wearing nothing but bikini panties and a waist length blond wig for the entire show, MJK opened the set with the song “Magdalena” his self-excoriating ode to the power of a go-go girl. Then “The Hollow” which attempts to speak from the point of view of a hungry, lustful vagina. “Sleeping Beauty” served for MJK to denounce intellectual laziness. “Orestes” is about the young man from the Greek tragedy who was forced by fate to kill his mother for having murdered his father, King Agamemnon.

No kidding. This is the kind of stuff he writes making it seem like he has sprung from the head of Camille Paglia. The lyrics to the song “Rose” tell best what MJK is all about: “I rose/ I roared aloud here/no longer will I lie down/ play this kneel-down martyr!”

On a more positive note, but still vociferous in his characteristic ululation, MJK sang an ode to his fiancée Brena; and to the joys of masturbating to a mental image in “Thinking of You.” They also did “Diary of a Lovesong,” a musical and lyrical reference to The Cure, but this does not appear on their current self-named album.

MJK apologized for not having more material with which to sing encores just before closing with their anthem-like diatribe against religion, “Judith.” Then the show abruptly ended. The exiting crowd of Tool fans left in disappointment.
A Perfect Circle is not a Tool side-project, but Billy Howerdel‘s magnum opus with MJK as one member.