I am one lucky metal head; in the next few months I will be witness to three different live versions of metal demigod, Maynard James Keenan.
The first time will be on Sunday, when he takes to the Soundwave stage as front man of supergroup, A Perfect Circle, the second will be on Tuesday night at the Enmore Theatre, performing with his visceral and decidedly quirkier collective, Puscifer and the final and most commercially viable of the three will be in May, when he performs to a sold-out crowd at the Allphones Arena as the vocalist of progressive metal luminaries, Tool.
Naturally, recounting the above schedule has me salivating like Pavlov’s dog within seconds. So when I was discussing it with a fellow Maynard aficionado at a recent social gathering, I was surprised to hear he was electing not to see APC at Soundwave. He was less than impressed with APC’s recent string of set-lists that have mostly featured songs from their covers album, eMotive. Intrigued, I shared this report with my housemate, (another Maynard groupie), whom conceded that he too was opting out of their Soundwave performance, for the exact same reason.
A Perfect Circle have three albums; Mer der Noms (2000), The Thirteenth Step (2003) and eMotive (2004). Mer der Noms is generally regarded to be their seminal title, defined by such hits as ‘Judith’, ‘Magdalena’ and ‘3 Libras’, to name a few. Their 2003 album also delivered a solid commercial and critical performance, and while their covers album eMotive was not necessarily poorly received, finding a fan who would claim it as their favourite is about as likely as attending a Soundwave festival with no band cancellations.
But while this may be the case, eMotive is still an album that is completely consistent with the band’s musical fortitude. It is still completely crafted, produced and performed by the band, and the song choice ranges from a cover of Led Zeppelin’s drawling hard-rock darling ‘When the Levee Breaks’ to an industrial rendition of punk band Black Flag’s ‘Gimme Gimme Gimme’. So with this and the recent conversations with my metal comrades in mind, a pressing question had to be thrown out there – how much of a deal-breaker are set-lists when it comes to live music?
Hands up if you’ve ever started your review of a gig by raving, “It was awesome! They played…(your favourite tracks here)”. I bet you also said that it kind of sucked that they didn’t play some of your favourites.
Set-lists are usually recorded on paper, not set in stone, yet they can be highly deterministic beasts when it comes to that awesome festival dilemma of timetable clashes – as exemplified by my metal brothers’ decisions. I will definitely be seeing A Perfect Circle at Soundwave, because I guess at the end of the sweat-drenched, sunburnt and mosh-weary day, how much a set-list matters is depends on how much you love the band (although…I do hope they play a little off Mer der Noms…)
Courtney Robinson is a 24-year-old Newtownian who works in television, studies journalism and one day hopes to attend heavy metal aerobics classes. She writes about the Australian film industry here.