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A Perfect Circle’s new album ‘Eat the Elephant’ plays a lot better live than its critics might think

A Perfect CirclePhotos by Mike Rosati // Written by Andrew Pohl //

A Perfect Circle with The Beta Machine //
Event Center at San Jose State University – San Jose
April 18th, 2018 //

Between their two performances at Coachella (read our festival review here) this month, alt-metal supergroup A Perfect Circle made a quick stop in the Bay Area last Wednesday to play the Event Center at San Jose State University as a follow-up to their 2017 gig in San Francisco at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium (read our show review here).

With their fourth LP Eat the Elephant — their first in 14 years — dropping two days later, APC were eager to share their latest material, with half of the band’s 17-song set dedicated to cuts off the new album.

Opening the show on this night were The Beta Machine, founded by APC members Jeff Friedl (drums, percussion) and Matt McJunkins (bass, keyboards, vocals). The four-piece is rounded out by Claire Acey (keyboards, vocals) and Nicholas Perez (guitar, keyboards, vocals), and its synth-laden, somewhat soulful music served as a nice prelude for what was to come.

The Beta Machine


The Beta Machine

APC then followed, starting with the title track on their new full length as frontman Maynard James Keenan stood back center in the dark, coiffed in a pig-tailed wig, which has become his standard “look” with the band. Meanwhile, the group’s other founding member and principal songwriter Billy Howerdel (guitar, keyboards, vocals) stood near the front of the stage, directly across from McJunkins and to the left of Keenan, with Friedl to the left of the singer.

To Kennan’s right stood Greg Edwards, who, as Maynard took a moment to point out, is filling in for James Iha while Iha gets ready for The Smashing Pumpkins’ upcoming reunion tour this summer. Edwards is a founding member of both Failure and Autolux (two incredible bands if I may say so myself), and he has a long history working with Keenan. Failure have been booked to play with Tool several times over the years, dating as far back as 1993 when they opened for them in San Francisco at the gone-but-not-forgotten Trocadero Transfer, and then again at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in 2014.

In San Jose, APC sprinkled in songs from all three of their previous albums and included a stirring rendition of Depeche Mode’s “People Are People” toward the show’s midway point. Having had a chance to listen to the new album in advance, I was a skeptical of what I was going to be in for with the new tracks. However, I am happy to report that experiencing the new music live was a wholly different experience. The band breathed new life and enough vibrancy into the material to cast away any doubts that I previously had. But three Eat the Elephant tracks in particular that stood out to me were “The Contrarian”, “Talk Talk” and “Hourglass” before they hit the road next month for an extended U.S. and European tour that’s scheduled to run through the end of the year.

Setlist:
Eat the Elephant
Disillusioned
Weak and Powerless
So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
Rose
Thomas
People Are People (Depeche Mode cover)
3 Libras (All Main Courses Mix)
The Contrarian
TalkTalk
Hourglass
Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums
The Outsider
The Doomed
The Package
Gravity
Feathers

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