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Friday @ Lollapalooza: A Perfect Circle

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A Perfect Circle singer Maynard James Keenan eyes the crowd at Lollapalooza on Friday. (Curtis Lehmkuhl/Sun-Times)


BY THOMAS CONNER Pop Music Critic

You've never heard John Lennon's "Imagine" delivered with such quivering earnestness as warped vocalist Maynard James Keenan gives it. In fact, you've likely never heard the song turned on its head in quite this manner, imbued with minor piano chords and a martial rhythm -- twisted from its hopeful, thoughtful origins into a surprisingly dystopian sneer.

Such is the heavy gloom of A Perfect Circle, a supergroup playing Lollapalooza's main stage after being reactivated from a seven-year hiatus.

With no new music to present, this patient, pummeling band -- led by Keenan from Tool, and now featuring former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha -- drew from the band's brief period of activity, and a lot from 2004's "Emotive." That album was mostly covers and was not widely acclaimed. Their take on Depeche Mode's "People Are People," for instance, is so thundering and morose as to be largely unrecognizable. There's something to be said for making a song your own.

Because where Keenan's Tool goes for the gnarled composition, A Perfect Circle succeeds in creating a somber, dour mood, simmering with restrained fury, which Keenan unleashed perfectly during "Pet," roaring and growling from his isolated perch in the back of the stage (he does like to lurk) and whacking a tambourine on a staff to punctuate his demands: "Go back to sleep!" The song ended with angelic, chiming guitar, smoothing out the scene.

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This page contains a single entry by Thomas Conner published on August 5, 2011 7:33 PM.

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On the Scene at Lollapalooza, Friday Afternoon is the next entry in this blog.

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