Jane's Addiction at the Allstate Arena
October 23, 2001
At a time when the corporate-rock machinery tries to present cookie-cutter
conformity as "alternative," pioneer of the genre Jane's Addiction serves as a
welcome reminder that it was once all about letting your freak flag fly.
The reunited Los Angeles quartet was in fine gonzo form Sunday night at the
Arena, playing a much tighter and more focused set than it presented at the Aragon
during the initial "Relapse" tour in 1997.
One of rock's most distinctive frontmen, Perry Farrell changed from one outlandish
costume to another, at one point stripping down to tiny black bikini briefs and singing
while twirling in an arc on a giant swing that had been set up onstage. He eschewed
his traditional monologues, preferring to stick to the music, but he was as lovably
weird as ever.
Shirtless guitarist Dave Navarro colored the sound with powerful washes of
feedback and psychedelic noise, while the amazing Stephen Perkins kept the band's
slinky sex grooves alternating between African poly-rhythms and Led Zeppelin
Adamantly anti-nostalgia, the band's original bassist, Eric Avery, wants no
part of the
reunion. (Porno for Pyros' Martyn Le Noble is a more solid replacement than Flea,
who filled the role in '97. The group is also augmented by keyboardist Linda Good, of
the former Chicago duo Twigs, who spent most of the night half-hidden in the
Still, Sunday's show made Avery's objections seem pointless. While there was
shortage of new material, save for one selection each from Farrell and Navarro's
recent solo albums, Jane's circa 2001 was no oldies act. Familiar hits such as "Ocean
Size," "Summertime Rolls" and "Mountain Song" were reworked and invested with as
much passion and energy as ever, holding out the promise of good things to come.
The only downside was the poor choice of venue. Jane's did its best to make
Allstate Arena seem more intimate, setting up platforms throughout the space for its
five leggy go-go dancers, adding extra lights and lasers, and taking the time to craft a
sound mix that was among the best I've heard in the venue.
Still, the house was at best two-thirds full, raising the question of why
opt to play at a mid-sized theater.
Another misstep was Jane's choice of opening acts. A decade on, the Stereo
mix of techno and R&B was tolerable if tired, but Pennsylvania grunge band Live
was simply pathetic.
Performing semi-acoustic while sitting on couches and stools on a stage set
like a living room, the no-longer-bald dime-store guru Ed Kowalcyk led the band
through lame versions of pompous radio hits, as well as new wet-noodle material and
a sorry cover of John Lennon's "Imagine."
When Kowalcyk concluded with the maudlin ballad "Overcome," he literally
himself in an American flag. This is a performer with a complete lack of shame.
Jim DeRogatis, pop music critic