Oh boy. War and Peace. Pah, a mere booklet.
Before getting on to the actual music at this gig, some other stuff.
1 - Yes, I bought the album because of the bloke who sings. Without him, and "that connection", it's highly unlikely I'd have bought the album. Mainly cos I'm not sure it would really have been brought to my (our) attention.
2 - It is an excellent album (though I've heard a better one this year -it will probably be out about October. Can't say no more - though I'd like to, can I? I know you'll read this, probably the only one).
3 - The press have picked up on them because of the link. Without it, it's highly doubtful they would've done with so much vigour, and subsequently people like myself wouldn't have bought the album or been here. So that's not to actually blame the press in this instance. They have done "a good job."
4 - They've got the backing of a big record label, who are able to plough lots of money in in order to help the band (whether they are or not I don't know, but that they could is not in doubt.)
Ok, so I admit to and/or acknowledge those points. But the thing is this. It was wonderful to see so many people here enjoying this (the place if not sold out is pretty damn close to it), BUT, and the reason for stating the stuff above is this:
I've said the same thing before about other artists that I don't respect so much, which has occassionally made some people a teensy weensy bit upset with me, but even when there is a bias in terms of me actually liking or respecting the bands, if you're being honest, then the same arguement is applicable to them. And so I'm going to say it again, in spite of bias. And it's this:
When was the last time a British band received this kind of attention? For those that know Rock City, when was the last time that you can remember a British band having their gig moved from downstairs in the basement to the main hall due to public demand? Or the Varsity to the Civic in Wolves. The LA2 to the Forum in London? The Duchess to the T&C in Leeds. TJs to the Newport Centre.
Can you remember, because I certainly can't - and I'm not trying to be argumentative or condescending. I honestly can't. If you can, feel free to let me know.
Because essentially that is what has happened here. And on their first album. Which is a feat a few other American bands have managed in recent months. It took local band Pitchshifter countless years and albums to make the transition from downstairs to up. And see, as much as I've had my issues with the press in this country in the past (and still do), I do see that there are at least attempts to improve their coverage and support of British bands (whether it's enough or not is not at issue here). So there's a situation where we have a number of UK bands receiving similar amounts of good press coverage to APC, but still, even though they're on maybe their second or third albums, and undertake lengthy and numerous tours of these fair isles, if they play here, then it's downstairs to a barely interested audience.
And so for all that people like myself might like to bemoan the press, the industry and everyone else, there is also a point where the buck for not seeing "successful" UK bands has to stop being passed. The bands are there. There's some venues. Some promoters. And yep, even the press are making the effort. So who does that leave out of the equation? Ah yes, the other culprits.
The paying public.
Or the not paying very often public.
Or the pay for certain gigs only public.
It IS wonderful to see this many people here, because it was a privelige to watch the gig, BUT, there ARE musical equals in this country even given how superb tongihts performance was. But the whole thing is being suffocated, and without the support basically of the people that are here (and at the other gigs around the country), the bands, the small venues, and the promoters will not survive. Maybe next time that you read about an alternative band featuring a member from some band you like, or some famous band splits due to internal strife or whatever, when you buy their new albums because of the name or the big recommendation from the magazines, and pack these gigs out, perhaps spare a glance to the other bands getting similar praise that you maybe don't know about, maybe check out that gig at the local toilet hole. You never know what you might find. It is hard to do it sometimes. Money. Apathy. Being let out by the missus. Missing your friends for an evening.
But it can also be worth it.
It's not enough to talk about the reason for this gig (and other similar ones) being down to their reputation, or "that connection." In fact it's even offensive to the band, in this case A Perfect Circle, to do so. How was that reputation established in the first instance. At some point, even with any successful band, you had to "take the chance" somewhere on listening to them, buying the album, going to the gig. That's a chance you have to take, irrespective of band, location, whatever.
Anyway (jumps off and passes soap box into the wings), sorry about that. I felt I had to do it as a point of principle and also balance. But now to the important part, to the music. To the gig. To the batmobile. Ah bugger, confusion again. Anyway, there's a support band first, My Vitriol. And to prove what a hypocrite I am after all I've just said, they're a British band of whom I've read a lot, heard little (I think my only exposure has been via the Organ records, one of those British labels that actually does a hell of a lot to try and support and encourage the many varied scenes in the UK), and never seen.
And I still haven't. See, it went something like this.
6pm - I ring Rock City.
Me : Hi, can you tell me what time the first band is due on tonight please?
RC : Yes, it's half past eight.
Me : Great thanks. Bye.
8.30, I enter Rock City.
My Vitriol : "Thankyou goodnight". And the guitars are dropped to the floor.
Now, I know I'm an unreasonable kind of guy, always want want want, unrealistic demands and whathaveyou. But do you think that it would be possible to give out the correct times when someone rings and asks? Thanks awfully. That would be ever so helpful and gratefully received.
And it's a bit early anyway, given that we then wait about 50 minutes or so for the entrance of A Perfect Circle. When they do, there's a large swelling of applause as the band wander onto the stage to start up with The Hollow. Somewhat tellingly, there's an even large round of applause when the vocalist wanders on. From there it's into an absolutely stunning Magdalena. I'm wearing earplugs as usual, but the music sounds crystal clear, and the vocals cut through everything, spellbinding and holding your gaze and attention by their very presence. It matters little that there's not a lot of "action" on stage. It's the bigger picture that's being built up, the backdrop is illuminated by the varilights (I think that's what they're called. They're the really big expensive jobbies, whose movements with their synchronicity remind me of some perverse Star Wars creature dancing along to the music) creating textures that are not there. At the end some voices from the crowd shout "we love you Paz". A lone voice from the stage replies "me too".
It's a real pleasure to be able to witness a "rock" gig where it seems all the machismo has been left at home. There's no moshing or windmilling, just people riding along on the back of the music. It's wonderful to hear the melodies and harmonies in the vocals, I've said it before, but it really does make a difference when there's some singing in there. It's all very well have shouts, shouts are great, but sometimes there just needs to be that light at the end of the tunnel, just a little sense of relaxation. And I don't mean the oh so predictable heavy light that so many bands do and then claim a sense of dynamics. This is real dynamics. In some respects it's almost going the other way, many of the songs starting off light and spartan, but after so much angst, it's great. It works so well. Other bands should try some.
The vocalist appears charismatic, hiding it seems behind a mass of hair, almost as if he's trying to conceal the real him. He speaks rarely, but when he does, it seems to be curt and to the point yet with a sense of humour and intimacy. Although it's their first album, he appears to recall being here "once before, with Fishbone". Now that's going back some years. He also enquires about a rumour that he's heard, "that The Ozzy likes to play here whenever he's in town". A few "yeahs" ring out. "Sorry, it was an obvious ploy for the start of the song, but you were supposed to say YEAH. Let's try again" and as the crowd this time obeys, Diary of a Madman is unleashed. Thinking Of You, 3 Libras - which is an absolute highlights, the vocals induce shivers down the spine, Orestes, pretty much the entire album is run through, and to be honest, as much as I like the album, live my estimation of it went up even further due solely to the passion of the performance.
I know I'm an unreasonable person, you've only got to read the start of this "review" to understand that, but at one point there's a couple in front of me who are like having a conversation through 2 or 3 of the songs. Would you be so kind, I would be ever so grateful, if you could possibly talk later or outside. Wonderfully kind of you to be so thoughtful. Someone I'm pretty sure is a Metal Hammer journalist wanders by as well and tries to have a chat with one of the security guys. Any chance of doing that later? Lovely. Still, at least that means there's a good chance you can read a real review of this gig somewhere. If he was on the job that is so to speak.
The very wonderful Rose (best song on the album in my humble opinion) with it's heavy distorted middle part and haunting guitars and the single Judith, which receives possibly the best reaction of the night (apart from the vocalists entrance - no, I don't mean back passage) close the set, and the promise of a return is restated as the band leave the set. Obviously with only one album, it's a short set, about 45 minutes. But in the same way that you don't always need to be blindingly heavy to be heavy (think about it), you don't need to play for ever to leave a lasting impression.
At the end the vocalist mentions coming back soon, "when I've stopped scratching my ass" he reckons, only to be told that they're back in March. "You mean I have to scratch my ass until March". It's an announcment that will surely please many (them coming back, not ass scratching until March), but maybe somewhere has a double edge that will disappoint the same people. Who knows.
Yep, it was a wonderful gig, a pleasure to watch and listen to.
And yep, to prove what a hypocrite I am, I bought a t-shirt. I'll wear it with pride. But a similar pride to that with which I'll wear an earthtone9, Medulla Nocte, Dai Lo, Little 10 and my old ragged but oh so lovely Beyond shirt (I do like that one, it's been with me a long time and through a lot) or whoever t-shirt. I'll even wear a Blackrock one if they ever get some!
If you are blustering at this point, "doesn't he know, doesn't he realise, is this guy an idiot". Well obviously, no, no and yes. Sorry, I'm not even going to begin to explain. Use a little bit of logic and reasoning.
Wow, a condescending sarcastic review without my resorting to the use of expletives. Well I'm impressed even if you aren't. I think that may well be a first for me. And quite possibly a last.
I've just read some reviews, and it appears My Vitriol disappeared after just 3 songs, somewhat miffed. So maybe RC aren't totally to blame for my missing them, but hey, 3 songs is 3 songs, it still didn't start at 8.30 did it!