Here's a review of the show originally printed in NME...
Hordern Pavillion, Sydney
WITHIN seconds of Jane's Addiction taking the stage, yet another rock myth is blown wide open. Word of mouth and persistent rumour had led us to picture Farrell & Co as four thrillingly damaged wastrels, chronic ne'er-do-wells upon whose skinny, pockmarked frames the signs of decay and substance abuse would be instantly apparent.
It was a comforting vision, upon which we'd secretly pinned a lot of our hopes. Indeed, the more fucked up they were, the better-since what is an audience for, if not to vicariously live out the lives of their heroes? That never changes, and most likely never will.
In short, we were quietly hoping for a wild, ragged bunch of LA junkies who'd make Guns N'Roses look like Nelson, and so are quite unprepared for the reality:these four shockingly fit-looking young bucks who bound on and
without much ado proceed to deliver some of the harshest and most beautiful music of this or any other year.
Some things, though, do not disappoint us in the slightest. Clad only in a pair of skintight black pants that might be either patent leather or elegant Warholian vinyl, Perry Farrell remains every inch the sex god of repute:those sharp chiseled features;that angular, Iggy Pop torso;his abstracted, vaguely disconnected gestures-there's enough there in the way of androgyny and harsh beauty to set hearts of both sexes aflutter.
Combine this striking presence with that voice, and you have by far the most compelling frontman of recent times. Their songs are driven, not by riffs or thunderous rhythms (take a bow, Steve Perkins), but by Farrell's inimitable banshee howl-live, a piercing, curiously mournful sound. It's an instrument in its own right, used to further colour the bands already massive sound. he screams, and it's trapped:a short, closed loop of sound that's left to repeat over and over as the rest of the band pile on the power and dynamics with an assurance so complete as to appear effortless. Between songs, Farrell stands almost rigid, as if all the various tensions of their material are still seeping out of his body as the last monstrous
riff rings into silence.
Tension of another kind is evident, however, when a guitar amp bites the dust just three songs into their set. What follows happens quickly: David Navarro throws up his hands helplessly, calling to the wings for assistance. Farrell turns to see what's going on, Navarro seems to resent the attention, and suddenly there's a confrontation, both figures screaming abuse at each other, almost eyeball to eyeball, as unconsciously theatrical and absurd as the antics of baseball players or pro wrestlers. Fists are being clenched, and the crowd suddenly goes quiet, sensing that things are rapidly getting out of hand. Then it passes, as abruptly as it flared, and each turns away from the other with the air of feuding schoolboys too proud to shake hands and make up.
While this technical glitch is being attended to, Farrell amuses himself by taunting the crowd, shouting provocations: "Hey, you faggots," he cries, his voice shrill and abrasive. "I know you guys, you're all a bunch of faggots, man. That's what they tell me." Not entirely unexpected, the crowd bites back; Farrell just smiles wryly. "Motherfucking faggots," he mutters cheerfully, before suddenly growing impatient. "Hey Eric-come on man. Let's fuck these motherfuckers. Let's show them how metal can fuck up their minds." Now his voice is a menacing whine; all of a sudden he's a kid, a petulant little punk anxious to show off a little longer, to stay in control.
And show off they do: "Stop" and "Been Caught Stealing" go by in a glorious blur, like a goods train past a level crossing; while "Three Days" brings every one of us to the realisation that, as brilliant as their records are, Jane's Addiction make far more sense live than they do in the studio. To do this justice the leviation that is "Mountain Song", for instance, requires much more than one's stereo alone can generally provide. You just simply have to be there.
They finish with the much-requested "Jane Says", a moment of calm that, after the pyrotechnics of their other numbers, sounds unnervingly hollow and sparse, like a void waiting to be filled with noise. And then they're
gone, probably forever. I honestly don't know if I can wait that long.
- Shane Danielsen.
Big thanks to Gaby for sending me this!
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