Full Circle with Stone and Echo: Live, Alive and Loved
The cult of A Perfect Circle has been either blessed or cursed by their favorite band’s most recent release A Perfect Circle: Featuring Stone and Echo. A Perfect Circle is a dark-alternative rock group formed in 1999 by guitarist Billy Howerdel and Tool vocalist Maynard James Keenan. A Perfect Circle has released three albums: Mer de Noms (2000), Thirteenth Step (2003) and eMOTIVe (2004). The band went into hiatus in 2004. Since then, band members have worked on other projects.
A Perfect Circle has always been one of those bands that is distinctive and unusual and can ramp up their fan base simply by making them wait it out. In addition to the highly coveted, once in a lifetime live performances, this box set also includes five hand selected lithographs featuring the personal signatures of both Keenan and Howerdel. Not to mention, the original artwork is so unique it is noted as “subject to change.” The album has been critically praised as a strong collection of standout tracks from the band from many critics and reputable reviews alike.
There is no question about it; many Perfect Circle fans will need this to add to their alter. Though this item is currently sold out everywhere, there are still downloadables for sale online. Sorry guys.
The full box set includes four disks, original artwork, a full length DVD, a custom frame and a one of a kind guitar pick. If you were one of the lucky super fans to pre-order quickly enough to get the highly anticipated limited edition, you have also secured Stone And Echo, a full-length CD and DVD featuring the band’s 2011 performance at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Golden, Co. You also receive Trifecta, a multi-disc collection featuring the band’s complete discography, Mer de Noms, Thirteenth Step and eMOTIVe, recorded live during A Perfect Circle’s 2010 series of full-album performances. Not to mention, you’ve got bonus tracks of “Ashes to Ashes,” “Diary of a Love Song” and current radio play favorite “By and Down.” Take a peek at the mxdwn premiere article here.
The box set commemorates the nearly decade-long wait since the band’s last full length release. Soon after that came a long-standing hiatus while both Howerdel and Keenan went on to pursue other projects. It was a long, wavering, rocky road and no one was sure whether the guys were on or off with future plans for A Perfect Circle. The band itself has been a revolving door of collective established musicians throughout its history but has always had its founders to breathe new life into and remain true to the consistency of A Perfect Circle. For a band that has only released three CDs, two of which were original material, A Perfect Circle fans reach ridiculous numbers. There is something about these guys that can pull audiences in and quickly make them fans.
The experience that is a live album is an experience that cannot be duplicated. And by the energy from the crowd, I imagine this one performance not to miss. The best part about this live concert recording is the lack of the usual banter that clouds the recording. “GET TO THE SONG!” is sometimes the only thing you can say about live recordings. Stone and Echo was able to capture the moments of dreamy clarity that is A Perfect Circle live.
Opening with an easy and childish “Annihilation,” immediately backed by “Imagine,” leading to “Weak and Powerless,” the band does not stop the barrage of music and fandom. It is not until after “Hallow,” “Rose” and “Blue” have all had their share of cheers, whistles and screams does the band pause. After “What’s Goin’ On,” after fan favorite “Outsider,” even after “(Whats so Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding”, “When the Levee Breaks” and “Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums,” the energy is still high and the value is not lost. Finally, the fans hear “By and Down” for the first time live. You can hear the silent respect in the timid anticipation.
Mer De Noms went platinum on Halloween of 2000. The live album was also well produced, creating crisp and clear recordings of not just the instruments but the audience too. There was plenty of banter and audience participation on this live record.
The Thirteenth Step gave us “Weak and Powerless,” “The Outsider” and “Blue.” This album was centered around addiction and the people who are affected by it. “The Outsider,” for example, is a song from the perspective of a person close to an addicted party. How did the audience take to it live?
The Thirteenth Step Live was clean. Each song was clearly defined and the levels were amazing for a live performance. Technically speaking, this is one of the higher grades of live recording we have heard to date. Without drowning the audience in the process, it is clear in the background, or should we say foreground, that the audience is singing along. The best example of this is “The Nurse Who Loved Me,” a cover of the Failure song from 1996.
Like The Thirteenth Step, eMOTIVe too had a purpose. It was a war protest album teaming with cover songs. It includes two original works: “Passive” and “Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums.”
Songs like “Passive” and “People are People” have a very obvious presence of foreign backing vocals, which is a bit distracting, but this does not take away from the album. The blending of audience voices with the performers’ could be better. Fun fact: “Passive“ is actually a version of a song from a band Maynard was in with some other dark alternative rockers that never quite made it. The original song was never released so he went on and brought the concept to eMOTIVe.
Each of the live recordings from A Perfect Circle remains fairly identical to the beloved studio recorded songs that exist in their unique realm of ceremonial loneliness. If you are a fan of live music recordings, this is worth the download (or purchase). Please do not sulk you if did not get the disk; you will enjoy the experience that is A Perfect Circle Live: Featuring Stone and Echo regardless.