Sound — 9
While it seems like Maynard James Keenan's new career is keeping his fans anticipating new music from one of his many projects, he manages to always have something released under any one of those projects to keep it alive and the fans satisfied. And since there's such a big cult following for A Perfect Circle - the supergroup Keenan shares with renowned guitarist Billy Howerdel and co-founder of Smashing Pumpkins James Iha - Keenan knew it'd be a good idea to release an "A Perfect Circle: Live Featuring Stone and Echo" box set of APC's material, including live performances, for the fans to occupy themselves with while they wait for a new APC album (which may come out after an indefinite period of time). The featured live performance of "Stone and Echo" is their 2011 concert at Red Rocks, the notorious "special performance" venue, where the setlist consists of most tracks from their 2004 album, "eMOTIVe," as well as their popular hits from their other two albums, "Mer de Noms," and "Thirteenth Step."
Technically, the sound was superb. Every instrument was mixed appropriately and there were very few moments where an instrument or Keenan's voice was drowned out by another instrument. The guitars were just as able to be the strongest instruments in some songs as they were able to play a more subtle, supporting role in other songs; letting the bass and drums have their moments to shine, such as in songs like "Orestes," "The Package," "People Are People" and "When the Levee Breaks." The drums sound strong and you're able to hear everything - from the hi-hat rolls to the tom-happy drum-fills- perfectly well over the guitars and bass. Keenan's voice is clear and omnipresent throughout the set, but it doesn't lead the music as much as it does play fair with everything else – going back to the notion that the best way to mix the sound is to let everything work in sympatico, rather than choosing priority. The only quarrel people may have with the sound is that the crowd's loud cheering is included (and frequent), though others may feel it adds to the energy of the performance.
Lyrics — 10
(this section of the review will critique the performance) It's no surprise that A Perfect Circle put on a great performance – how can you get to play at Red Rocks and not put on a good performance? Guitarists Billy Howerdel and James Iha complemented one another throughout the set, and got to do quite a lot of improvising in songs like "3 Libras (All Main Courses Mix)," "Orestes," "Peace, Love and Understanding" and "Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie" to make the performance unique. Since the bass in A Perfect Circle is nowhere close to being an afterthought, it takes more than just adequate to fulfill the role, and bassist Matt McJunkins fills the role well, and he even got to do some improvising of his own in "Three Libras" and "Orestes." Drummer Jeff Freidl doesn't slack at all during the 20-song set – in fact, he takes a lot of liberties with fast drum-fills in just about every song; making the live versions of the songs more interesting than the studio versions. Keenan's vocals don't falter at all, and shine brightest in songs like "Imagine," "Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie" - where Keenan did a more sing-y version, as opposed to the growly studio version - and "The Fiddle and The Drum" - where Keenan delivered a solo vocal performance with the intensity akin to the National Anthem at the Superbowl. It should also be noted that the backing vocals provided by Howerdel and Iha were damn good as well in songs like "People Are People," "Orestes," "Blue" and "When the Levee Breaks."
Overall Impression — 9
While there may be people that would have preferred more of APC's original songs from "Mer de Noms" and "Thirteenth Step" (the absence of "Judith" and "Pet" may even disappoint some), APC puts on a great performance with the set provided. The quality of sound is absolutely worthy of being put on CD, and the numerous variations in the live versions of songs compared to the studio versions gives you a solid reason to choose listening to these versions. This is exactly what a live album should bring to the table, and it is indeed worth getting.