Tool? Heck No: It's A Perfect Circle
By Mark Bialczak, The Post-Standard

The rock band doesn't need the unbridled power of Tool in the War Memorial concert.

Maynard James Keenan told the crowd Thursday night at the Onondaga War Memorial he knows just how it feels when they tell somebody they're from New York.

"And they say, 'New York City.' And you say, '(Heck) no, I'm from Syracuse," Keenan said as the crowd of about 3,000 or so - just right for the War Memorial setup that has the huge blue curtain blocking off the rear end of the hockey arena - screamed its approval. Perfect Circle in concert ?(out of four) It might go something like that when Keenan tells somebody he's got a concert that night. And they say, "Yeah, Tool." And the front man for that big-time modern rock band responds, "(Heck) no, I'm playing with A Perfect Circle."

Just as Syracuse is a whole other animal from New York City, A Perfect Circle goes in different directions from Tool.

While Tool's a bunched-up muscle of unbridled power, A Perfect Circle chooses to take the path of more restrained passion.

And the crowdloved it, standing throughout the entire 75-minute set and giving a huge ovation as Keenan and mates left the stage (without giving an encore).

Keenan chose to spend the night on a riser at the rear of the stage, bending at the waist, waving his arms, acting much like the lead in a steamy drama.

Guitarist Billy Howerdel and bassist Jeordie White took the front of the stage, while guitarist James Iha and drummer Josh Freese were about halfway between those two and Keenan.

Howerdel began his career with Keenan in Tool; White played as Twiggy Ramirez in Marilyn Manson; Iha shared the stage with Billy Corgan in Smashing Pumpkins; and Freese kept the beat for The Vandals.

Together, they showed why A Perfect Circle's so much more than something for Keenan to play with when Tool's on a break.

They set a tense spell with work from A Perfect Circle's two albums, the 2000 debut "Mer de Nomes" and this year's "Thirteenth Step."

The crowd was particularly juiced for the work from the latest disc.

"Blue" keyed the masses to sway to the tension; "Weak and Powerless" turned the key for a more anxious reaction; "The Nurse Who Loved Me" caused a romantic sing-along to the verse "She's falling for me. I can see it in her eyes. She acts like a nurse with all the other guys."

Keenan showed he was quite a character between songs, too. He captured the oddball spirit of the day's pop culture story by telling four quite off-color Michael Jackson jokes.

Iha, meanwhile, kept it clean when asked to take his joke-telling turns by Keenan.

"What can you wear that never goes out of style?" Iha asked. "A smile." And, "Where does a penguin store his money?" he wanted to know. "A snow bank." Keenan groaned at both.

Los Angeles foursomeYear of the Rabbit warmed the crowd up with a quick and pleasant set of melodic rock. Front man Ken Andrews had the crowd appreciating the zesty single "Last Defense."

Andrews comes from defunct popular band Failure. With guitarist Jeff Garber, bassist Solomon Snyder and drummer Tim Dow, he's leading Year of the Rabbit down the path to success.