Perry Farrell conducts his circus.
Review and Photos by Phil BonyataThere once was a time when rock bands broke up and stayed that way. Not so in a day and age when we have witnessed the reunion of one of most defiant and least commercial bands, the Sex Pistols. Make no mistake, Jane's Addiction made a statement last night as to where their place in rock history should be. Straddling rocks' Mt. Olympus as one of the most creative, influential and innovative bands of the '90s. They're among good company with Nirvana, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Smashing Pumpkins and Beck.
Contributor Stevie Styles
Jane's broke up in 1992 after posting an impressive few years as fresh innovators on an exciting music scene in the late '80s and early '90s. The band left a smoking brand on the ass of the alternative music scene. This is Jane's second reunion tour in less than five years. With no new album to promote (maybe this explained why the Allstate Arena was only two-thirds full) the band consisted of original members Farrell, guitarist Dave Navarro, drummer Stephen Perkins and newcomer bassist Marty LeNoble who has taken the place of founding member Eric Avery. What was to come was a musical and visual feast not witnessed on the music scene in quite some time.
As the curtains rose, Farrell adorned in a parachute style wedding dress straight out of a Norse wedding from hell, menacingly glared at the audience. The white dress which was more than twenty-five feet across and went waist high on the bare chested he-bride, contained some very special treats. The dress started to course like waves on an angry ocean frothing up half-naked female bodies that moved in tribal fashion as they started to grope the unblushing "bride" like a twisted Hindu deity. It's a scene taken right out of Francis Ford Coppola's "Dracula." Sexuality pulsates through everything that is Jane's Addiction. Farrell's voice has a shrill trumpeting quality that warbles it's androgynous arrows directly at the listener. He is an uncaged animal on stage. He exudes rock star panache and has the quirky and inventive moves of Scott Weiland from the Stone Temple Pilots down pat. Dressed in a pimpy red polyester jump suit, the enigmatic Farrell strutted the stage like a caged and hungry lion eying up the plump zoo goers. The beautifully eerie ballad "Classic Girl" trembled with an unusual amount of self-inflicted vulnerability. "Mountain Song" busted lose with such ferocity and cold intent that many in the first few rows were physically taken aback before they decided to ride out the sonic tidal wave like a surfer that found his elusive tsunami. On "Summertime Rolls," Navarro's shirtless and sculpted body, tattoos galore and both nipples pierced, kicked his leg in the air and chopped the chords off with the help of a resident lumberjack living on the neck of his guitar. Perkins' booming drum beats built mountains of sound in the cavernous arena, so Navarro's licks could cap the peaks with an edgy electricity.
Jane's overall stage production came right out of Vegas, albeit one of the seediest shows way off the strip. It had a colorful girlie show quality right out of a twisted gypsy circus. It's excess bursting out at level 10. It's refreshing to see that the visionary Farrell need not worry about being politically correct and listen to what do gooders tell him to think. Half-naked female dancers with elaborate red-feathered costumes, strutted all over the stage, on teeter-totters, a creepy merry-go-round and mini stages located halfway out in the stadium that created an intimacy with the audience. The band lit the indoor night sky with piecing green lasers and so much color everywhere that the whole stage took on the effect of a Saturday morning cartoon animated by Salvador Dali.
Halfway into the explosive set the band evaporated off the main stage only to reappear onto a smaller setup in the center of the the arena. It's becoming cliche at this point with the Stones and even Aerosmith doing it this year. It's still effective to create a more intimate theater-in-the-round setting. It's also an opportunity for Perry to have a costume change. This time appearing in a tight fitting brown leisure suit complete with coon skin hat. Who says Perry has no fashion sense? It will probably be all the rage this fall. After a few obligatory words of warmth towards Chicago, the band kicked in with the simple punk ballad "Jane Says." Each band member unleashed a torrent of singular sounds which pretzeled nicely around Farrell's fey lyrics. Perry then introduced Dave Navarro, solo artist. Backed only by his acoustic guitar he performed "Hungry" off his first solo outing, Trust No One. A autobiographical song about the death of his mother and the emptiness that still remains. It's a moment that reminds us it's not 1992 anymore and this is a band that has grown together and apart. They are no longer the lost versions of their youth. Still, they may very well be looking for those answers in adulthood.
It was time to head back to the main stage for yet another costume change for Perry. This time it's a silver glitter suit that would make the Vegas Elvis blush. Complete with purple fedora and matching feather you would have felt comfortable approaching him on Rush Street. The man isn't shy and soon proved it during "Nothing Shocking." In a split second he stripped down to his black bikini briefs with only his white socks to keep him warm. A clan of women that were similarly dressed, minus the socks, pranced around and surrounded our unlucky frontman. It's tough to be a rock star. Perhaps nothing is shocking in this day and age.
Glaringly absent was their signature song "Been Caught Stealing." With no new music to promote, why would they omit their best number ever? The answer is lost somewhere in Farrell's rather distorted inner cranium.
Let's hope Jane's can harness all this evening's robust energy and inventiveness into some new and exciting material that will propel them back into a preeminent role in today's rather bleak musical landscape.
Live opened up for Jane's Addiction without much fanfare. The band played a spirited and bare bones set. Lead singer Edward Kowalczyk's voice rang rich on all the hits and some of their lesser known new material. The band, while competent never really caught up. Live was a curious and questionable choice to open for the fiery Jane's Addiction.
Live goes mellow.
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