[ATTENDED: July 16, 2016] Jane’s Addiction
When Jane’s Addiction came out back in the late 1980s, I loved them. Nothing’s Shocking was my favorite album for a few years and Ritual de lo Habitual was a close second. There was something about their sense of sleazy and weirdly catchy songs that I totally gravitated towards. I probably should have gone to Lollapalloza that year, but I didn’t.
But then I moved past them. When they released Strays back in 2003, I didn’t even give it a listen. Same with The Great Escape Artist in 2011. I just didn’t care all that much. I’d also gotten a little overexposed to Dave Navarro and his exploits over the next decade.
And while I was interested in seeing them–especially since they were doing Ritual in its entirety, I was much more excited to see Dinosaur Jr.
But wow, was I impressed by their show. The most impressive thing for me was the sound quality. Whether that is chalked up to the venue (I doubt it–outdoor venues aren’t usually that good) or the way they mixed it (more likely), I couldn’t get over how great the band fit together–it sounded like the album (not like it was prerecorded or anything, just really full). And most of the applause goes to Navarro.
He didn’t do a lot onstage except play guitar. And man was he good. Beyond the sound of his rig (which was great), he was masterful on his instrument. His solos sounded great–never missing a note–and he seemed really at ease up there (perhaps because he is sober?). Here’s a terrible video, but decent audio clip of a solo.
Also impressive was the sound of bassist Chris Chaney (who I didn’t know and who really didn’t seem to fit in with the tattoos of Navarro and the suit of Perry Farrell). But his bass was perfect–especially during the parts of the songs when it really counted–his played the riffs and the rumbles perfectly. And the two of them together made some great music.
They were accompanied by a keyboardist (I don’t remember his name), but he added nice accents –strings and piano where needed–and no doubt fleshed out the sound as well.
Stephen Perkins was great on drums–he’s a maniac. And then of course there is frontman Perry Farrell. Farrell came out in a pink three-piece suit and a big pimp hat. He brought a bottle of wine and attitude and he was mesmerizing for most of the show. He is full of charisma and told some stories of playing in New Jersey in the past, which were all entertaining. When it started raining he said that he was going to get wet on stage so we ought to as well.
And yes, the skies opened up pretty much as soon as they came out and there was a soft but steady rain for pretty much their whole set. It actually felt pretty good since it had been pretty warm that day. And, yes, he sweated like crazy. He took of his jacket but stayed in his vest and long sleeve shirt and he sweated all the way through the vest. Here’s a short clip of his antics.
The one thing I didn’t know about was the stage show. I genuinely had no idea there’d be half-naked women writhing around on stage, “dancing” and doing various other things. It was, frankly, shocking, that in 2016, that would be the stage show. Of course, Farrell and Navarro have reputations of erotic excess, so I guess it’s not really that surprising.
The opening dialogue came over the speakers and as the woman said “juana’s addicion,” Navarro launched into “Stop!” and everyone raised their phones for photos and videos.
Now, I’m obviously a fan who likes to grab some photos and videos, but in my defense, I try to be as discreet as possible. I usually try to get my own eye-view of a show. I’ll occasionally raise up for a quick snap, but I’m respectful of the people behind me (even if they are six-foot-eight and my outstretched arms wouldn’t even reach their faces). But the whole view was of little screens. Half way through the song people behind us shouted “Put your phones down!” but no one did. The guy right in front of me took long videos of every song. So between the huge guys in Yankees hats and the short guy with the phone, views were limited.
Perhaps the coolest thing I saw that night came right after “Stop!” I watched as someone passed something up on stage to Navarro. After “Stop!” was over, he signed the item (a book, it looked like) and passed it back into the crowd. That’s pretty cool.
And so the band played through the whole Ritual album. On certain songs the women came out and danced. The crowd went nuts for “Been Caught Stealing” (except for the guy behind me who said it was the one song he did NOT want them to play (but he did know they were doing the whole album, right?). I was especially excited to hear “Three Days”– my favorite song on the album. It’s a really long song with great instrumental passages and quiet and loud parts. I didn’t expect the women to come out and do all manner of things to the band including a simulated act that many young eyes would have been very surprised to see. But they couldn’t distract from the music.
And those antics didn’t compare at all to the stage show during “Classic Girl.” As the song started, two women came out in robes. And one of them undressed the other one entirely (she was facing away from the stage but was clearly starkers) and then put new under garments on her. Some things may still be shocking after all.
When the band finished the album, they left the stage. I had read that they do a pretty short set but I assumed we’d get a few more songs. And we did.
They came back with really great sounding cover of David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel” (again, Navarro’s guitar was great and a lot of fun to watch). And then they played a rousing version of “Mountain Song” (I was really hoping they’d play a few songs from Shocking). They played a song from Strays called “Just Because” which I gather was a single (and everyone around me knew all the words to, but I didn’t know it at all).
And then, the most shocking thing of all. They played “Ted Just Admit It…” (the sex is violent” song) which isn’t shocking exactly. But for this song, they brought out two women who were then suspended from piercings in their backs. The woman in front of us (on the left side of the stage) didn’t seem all that comfortable) but the woman on the right (whose name is Gisella Rose and does her own performances with body modification) was really enjoying herself–swinging her legs and doing all sorts of things (see, here’s a brief clip). It was impossible to take your eyes off of her, and I don’t even really know what the song sounded like.
For the final song, they brought out some chairs and a steel drum. Perry introduced the band and then Perkins came out from behind the drums and introduced Perry (that’s Perkins in his underwear introducing Farrell). And after a brief acoustic introduction, they launched into “Jane Says,” with Perkins playing steel drum.
It was a really nice ending to the show (as nice as a song about heroin addiction can be, of course).
Between the video cameras, the tall guys and the surprise of the women running around, the show was total overload for me. I feel like I need to see them again just to see what I actually saw. And, hey, they’re playing in Philly in two days…