A Perfect Circle Puts on Powerful, Hypnotic Show
By Shawn Humphrey, The Flint Journal

AUBURN HILLS -- A Perfect Circle didn't appear to sell out The Palace of Auburn Hills on Saturday. Still, the quality of the performance, a haunting, powerhouse rock set, hypnotized Michigan music fans.

Seated attendance seemed to be light overall, with many empty chairs visible throughout the venue. Despite these vacancies, the floor was packed with audience members energetically ignoring the no-moshing rules posted at the Palace entrance.

Lurking in the shadows behind eerie overhanging wire trees, former Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan shunned all stage lights. His preference was to defer frequently to his bandmates; Circle music composer and guitarist Billy Howerdel, drummer Josh Freese, guitarist James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins) and bassist Jeordie White (Marilyn Manson). Concert-goers didn't seem to recognize White, better known by his pseudonym Twiggy Ramirez, but many attendees wearing Smashing Pumpkins and Tool T-shirts were clearly long-standing fans of Iha and Keenan.

Keenan has a crystal-clear voice, with the ability to deliver the kind of emotion and clarity that should be demanded from any singer aspiring to the title "professional." The show's set list was carefully constructed to feature quiet songs that didn't require aggression to promote a message, but when Circle chose to use that dynamic they could easily make the stadium quake.

Despite the unnoticeable impediment of drummer Freese's broken leg, the band far surpassed recorded versions of their popular singles "Judith," "Weak and Powerless" and "The Outsider." The live version of the MTV-banned single "The Outsider" was worth the price of admission by itself.

For those with a sense of humor, Iha's a cappella version of the Backstreet Boy's "I Want It That Way" could also count toward the entrance tally. Iha has a delicate voice, not unlike a Backstreet Boy, so it was a little surreal to hear the axe-man crooning a boy band song for fun. Some audience members even started to sing along, then stopped when they realized they were too cool to know the words.

The Burning Brides, a high-voltage grunge group from Philadelphia, put on a full-throttle showing for much of its set. Their sound was much bigger than what one would expect from a trio, drawing surface comparison with Nirvana, primarily for the singer's preference for Cobain-inspired howls and catchy songwriting.

Both performances went a long way to offset the unfortunate appearance of opening act Mini-Kiss. A novelty act composed of little people costumed like Kiss, they drew strong ire and a few thrown cups from concert-goers when it became obvious they were "playing" cardboard guitars to a Kiss tape.

Word of Mini-Kiss' poor reception reached Keenan, who berated the audience for booing the opening act.