JEORDIE WHITE | BASE TENDENCIES
The stage is dark, save for a circle of cloth backlit with orange light. Black shadows swirl outward from its centre in a hypnotic spiral, framing the person who stands behind the cloth. That person, of course, is Maynard James Keenan, the powerful voice behind A Perfect Circle.
As the first strains of "Vanishing" resonate through the OnCenter arena, Maynard's shadowy and ever-shifting silhouette dominates the stage. But as the energetic opening of "Pet" kicks in, the cloth drops and we see the man behind the extremely powerful voice.
Fans of Tool and APC are used to these antics from Maynard, who has never been one to play up his physical appearance. He often faces the back of the stage or hides behind curtains for entire shows, and his thick, long, face-hiding wig is one of his staple props. But when you have a voice like his, image is immaterial.
The rest of the band is definitely on tonight as well. Guitarists Billy Howerdel and James Iha run the gamut from quiet, mellow strains to heavy, pounding riffs, with drummer Josh Freese keeping perfect time. Bassist Jeordie White has certainly changed since his Manson days, exchanging the dresses, makeup and wild black dreads for a classier, more low-key style. His playing, however, is tighter than ever.
The majority of the material tonight is from Thirteenth Step, though the band also delivers some classic Mer De Noms favourites, including "Magdalena," "3 Libras" and the final song of the night, "Judith." Also toward the end of the evening, APC showcases the newest single off Thirteenth Step, "The Outsider." Standout performances include "The Package," which quietly builds to a crashing crescendo and "The Nurse Who Loves Me," which fills the arena with exquisite emotion.
As the concert date happens to coincide with the day of MJ's arrest, Maynard & co. are unable to resist taking a few digs at the self-proclaimed King Of Pop. "What's off-white and comes in little cans?" Maynard asks the audience during one such moment. (We'll let you figure out the answer to that one.) This easy style of audience interaction is one of APC's hallmarks and one that helps to bridge the gap between fan and musician.
Opening for APC is the Los Angeles based rock outfit Year Of The Rabbit, who come off as a younger version of Failure. Rabbit's mellow yet hard-driving set provides a beautiful complement to the headlining act, but it's APC who really drive the music home, right into the audience's soul.