Jul 9, 2022

Billy Howerdel - Soundstage

Category: Live Reviews



Baltimore Soundstage

Baltimore, Maryland


BILLY HOWERDEL Set List: Beautiful Mistake, Same Again, Ani, Bring Honor Back Home, Selfish Hearts, Poison Flowers, Drum Solo, Follower, Forever Can Be, EXP, Free & Weightless, Stars

Billy Howerdel is best known as the lead guitarist for A Perfect Circle and alongside his songwriting sidekick Maynard Keenan (Tool) he’s toured the world wowing fans with his dark, dazzling guitar work.

 Billy got his big break in the music world as a guitar tech for Nine Inch Nails on the “Self Destruct” tour in ’93; Howerdel set up and tuned guitars for Trent Reznor & Danny Lohner.  Ironically Lohner is a current member of Billy’s touring band and has a long standing history with A Perfect Circle.  APC wrote a song called “Renholder” which is about Mr. Lohner who also remixed several tracks from APC.

 While on the subject of Danny Lohner, I ran into him after the show and he told me that he loved my shirt.  The shirt I wore was a KISS Betty Boop shirt from the bands “End of the Road” 2019 Japan tour.  Lohner told me that KISS was his first concert ever and that it was during their “Creatures of the Night” tour when there was a huge controversy over the bands name standing for “Knights in Satan’s Service”.  He went on to tell me that he was more excited for the opening band that night who was none other than The Plasmatics.  He told me that seeing Wendy O. Williams on onstage in all her glory with electrical tape over her nipples left an impact.  I asked Lohner if it was true that he played on Marilyn Manson’s “Anti Christ Superstar” record and he confirmed that he did indeed play guitar on several tracks.

 Doors were scheduled to open at 7 PM but did not open until around 7:15 PM.  Eight people were in line waiting to get in once doors opened and VOWWS took the stage a little after 8 PM.

 VOWWS delivered a moody, gloomy, dark wave set and the only downside was the tiny crowd because in between songs there was absolute dead silence and you could literally hear a cell phone ring between songs.

 VOWWS offered fans a few interesting shirt designs and two different vinyl records at the merch table.  Billy Howerdel offered fans a signed tour poster for $50, signed CD’s for $35, pins for $10, and a few different shirt designs.

Billy did sell a pre show meet and greet package which he charged for BUT at the end of his set Danny Lohner broke the news to the audience that Billy would be at the merch table to sign and take photo’s for FREE.  It took Billy about 25 minutes to say hello, sign, and do photos for everyone in attendance that wished to meet him.

 The weather on this day was overcast and slightly rainy which set the mood for this dark, dreary, goth inspired evening with Billy and company.

 Opening with “Beautiful Mistake” the Billy Howerdel solo experience was like one giant continuous track performed to a somber, deadpan, continuous drone and the emotionally charged guitar noodles Billy laid down over the gothic grunts from his backing band displayed how much of himself he pours into his art and his music.

 Billy is a surprisingly strong vocalist and you can clearly hear what he adds to A Perfect Circle when you see him perform his solo shows.

 “Forever Can Be” originally performed by Ashes Divide was the only song played this night that was not on his new solo release “What Normal Was”.

 In a 2009 interview with Howerdel I asked him what the song “Forever Can Be” was about and he stated:

“That song, “Forever Can Be” is really about a few people in my life that have..I’ve kinda merged the stories together with alot of these songs & they kinda lack a linear thing & therefore allowed me to kinda disconnect myself from something very personal specifically...that one is certainly about somebody close to me passing away & the permanence of loss of someone in a way that you knew them in your living life or however you wanna phrase that.”

 Danny Lohner was the man to watch because he was unpredictable and did random things.  Danny chugged Truly and tossed the crushed cans at the drum kit.  Towards the middle of the set he pulled a banana out, looked at it, looked at the crowd, then tossed it to the far side of the stage.  Danny pulled up random sounds from his phone during the show, randomly vaped, and wore what he called “local” attire.  Danny’s “local” attire was Edgar Allen Poe shorts and socks.

Howerdel took the stage at 9:15 PM and his entire set was over by 10:15 PM.  My random tie in story for this night is that I remember covering the Nine Inch Nails tour on December 6, 1994 at the Baltimore Arena.  That night Marilyn Manson opened for the Jim Rose Circus and NINManson was amazing and that show is what made me a fan of the band; while I was waiting for Trent and company to take the stage I clearly recall seeing Howerdel onstage setting up gear and I told Billy in an interview I did with him back in 2009 about this.  Billy laughed while commenting that was definitely a moment in time that would never happen again.

Billy Howerdel is a superb guitarist, strong vocalist, and overall amazing songwriter.  His current solo run features a great backing band and this may be your only chance to catch Howerdel in a small, intimate setting where you can get up close and personal with the man behind all of the great tracks from A Perfect Circle

Author: Bob Suehs