Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell kicked off his run of the City Winery here in NYC on Friday, June 7th (followed by other Winery locations Boston, Washington D.C., Nashville, and Atlanta), and we caught his band’s inaugural performance. He is playing in support of his first solo album in almost a couple decades called Kind Heaven.
“It’s hard to believe, but I’m 60 years old, and I started my story right here in Jamaica, Queens,” Farrell revealed during the show. He escaped his oppressive Jewish orthodox upbringing and went to school in LA with visions of becoming a star. Like many before him, those sweet dreams quickly turned sour, as he fell real hard into the drug-fueled lifestyle. After playing in an early 80’s called Psi Com, he fronted a stripped-down duo with bassist Eric Avery, then they added drummer Stephen Perkins and then his friend guitarist Dave Navarro, calling them selves Jane’s Addiction, named after a actual friend of theirs. They released a minor label self-titled live album in 1987 which gained such a cult following for its angry, funky, surreal, and darkly diverse appeal, that they were quickly snapped up by WB records and they released their studio debut Nothing’s Shocking in 1988. They led the charge for the whole alternative rock revolution well before grunge broke through. They then pumped out one of the most powerful albums of the decade with their follow up 1990’s Ritual de lo Habitual, which led to major headlining tours and the formation of Perry’s own music and arts festival called Lollapalooza. Even though they were at the top of the music world in the early 90’s, their addictions were beginning to tear them apart.
In 1993, Jane’s spit in two, with Navarro and Avery forming a band called Deconstruction while Farrell and Perkins formed Porno for Pyros. Pornos was a much a happier alt-pop band than his previous efforts, but they did get more electronic and spacey over the course of several years. In the late 90’s that band dissolved and then Jane’s Addiction reunited briefly, with Avery refusing to “sell out” and Flea of Navarro’s other band Red Hot Chili Peppers taking the bass spot. However, this also did not last, and Ferrell went solo for a time, using his DJ skills to dive full on into his electronica and trance side with 2001’s Song Yet to Be Sung. He formed another Jane’s in 2003, releasing an impressively Floydian-sounding Strays. Shortly after they broke up yet again, so Farrell formed a new super group called Satellite Party for a bit. Then the original Jane’s lineup regrouped for a tour with an epic tour Nine Inch Nails in 2008, and yet Eric Avery was clearly not interested in continuing for the long-term, so they created yet another lineup with Guns N’ Roses Duff McCagen on bass for 2012’s more mainstream effort The Great Escape Artist, but then they came back to the 2003 lineup, with Chris Chaney returning as their bass man for succeeding tours.
This album and tour is clearly an attempt to get back to the edgier styles of his past self, as the stage was stuffed with musicians to help add to the carnival atmosphere of this classically Perry Farrell performance. The lineup was extensive, with a team of backup singers that included wife Etty, ex Jane’s Addiction’s backing members bassist Chris Chaney and keyboardist Matt Rohde on keys also came along, and they were joined by session-extraordinaire drummer Matt Chamberlain and Velvet Revolver and NIN touring guitarist Nick Maybury. The setlist mostly consisted mostly new stuff obviously, and it was great to hear its intensely diverse glory, from the angry protest songs, to the festival feels, to the sappy psychedelic love songs. I never saw Pornos For Pyros, so it was good top hear songs like “Pets” and “Tahitian Moon ” for the first time live. He played some covers as well, like his ode to Iggy Pop with The Stooge’s “I Feel Alright.” He also graced us with one of my faves, Jane’s early classic “I Would for You,” which sounded real nice expanded out to a full band song. They also played some rather faithful renditions of “Ocean Size” and “Mountain Song” from Nothing’s Shocking, but that was it for Jane’s classics this night, which was a little disappointing. However, I have heard from others that have caught other shows say he has been switching up the classics, also playing tracks like “Jane Says,” “Been Caught Stealin’,” and “Stop!” It was a bit strange to see Perry Farrell play a dinner club, as you usually think of his music being played at a location where there is plenty of space for moshing, but his music has always had an element of wacky unpredictability, and his shows are almost always like a freaked out carnival of perversions and psychedelics, so a fine supper club ends up feeling like home for his drunken antics. He certainly did not show is age, as he rocked harder than ever, and the band sounded perfectly exquisite. So, the musical atmosphere ended up working pretty well, and the wine and food was amazing, so I staggered away deeply satisfied.
Article: Dean Keim