Jane’s Addiction needs new passion dose

Jane’s Addiction lead singer Perry Farrell said this about their second reunion tour to Rolling Stone magazine: “I need to throw a party, our lineup is so solid and beautiful, and I like making love with good partners.”

This, I guess, explains why they went out on tour three years after their last “reunion” tour and many years after their official breakup. Their music is and always will be great, but as the years fade away, so does their energy and passion for performing it.

At their Portland show last Sunday Jane’s Addiction played a solid but apparently uninspired 90-minute set consisting of some of their best and most popular songs.

From London the Stereo MC’s opened the show with an upbeat set of club-friendly beats. Their lineup consisted of a drummer, percussionist, electronic technician, lead singer and three beautiful energized female backup singers.

Jane’s hit the stage at exactly 9:30. The stage had a party atmosphere with paper chandeliers, a fake palm tree, a 15-foot tall adult merry-go-round, and some random hanging bits that looked good under black light. Two newcomers joined Farrell and original guitarist Dave Navarro onstage.

It wouldn’t be fair to say the show sucked, because it didn’t. It wasn’t mind-blowing, inspiring or impressive, but they didn’t screw it up either. Perhaps doubting their showmanship Perry asked the crowd “Do you love us?” The crowd apparently did.

I’ve had my share of moments listening to the music of Jane’s Addiction. If I had never seen them before, I may have been as excited as many of the attendees seemed to be. Some of the fans, at least two drunk guys by me, may have been vocally affirming their love for the half dozen women with g-strings and silver pasties on their nipples who performed more physically than the band did for almost as long.

The multitalented women were able to climb scaffolding, hang upside down, swing from ropes, rock on a giant teeter totter with giant pink headdresses, manipulate a parachute and dance like strippers very well. They were as entertaining to watch as Farrell and company.

Monica Carderella, 22, said, “It’s like a strip club and concert, all in one package, and oh my god, Perry is so gay.” She said it all, I guess.

Farrell really wanted the show to be sexy, and for the audience to be turned on. He commented at least twice that there were a “lot of beautiful girls” in the audience and that the guys should at least try to make a connection with them. “Sometimes you just wanna fuck,” he said.

I want everybody to fuck too, and perhaps make more love and less violence. However, I was slightly worried that the annoying drunk guys around me would do something stupid. The line “Sex is violence” sung while Farrell chases one of the dancers around the stage, eventually ripping off her “skirt” might fuel my worries. Maybe I’ve just grown old, critical and politically correct. I call ’em how I see ’em.

The band hit their changes and ran around on stage a fair amount, but still came across a little tired. The epic song “Three Days” sounded as it does on the album but lacked an extra boost of power that would be expected live. They opened their acoustic stage set (a smaller stage closer to seated audience) with the obligatory classic “Jane Says.” Once again it didn’t sound bad but lacked passion. This lack of emotion is understandable. It has been many years since this band has actively recorded and toured together. They get together now to “party” or whatever, but their souls may no longer be with Jane’s Addiction.

Navarro and Farrell recently released solo albums and performed one song each on the acoustic stage. Navarro’s textbook radio alternative and Farrell’s electronic pop both lacked the power and quality songwriting of the old Jane’s material. They were also the only two songs that the crowd couldn’t sing a long to. The fact that everyone knew many lyrics was great. Farrell’s whine, even with the help of digital effects, sometimes came up thin, but was boosted with thousands of voices.

One good thing about the original members changing directions is the fact that they both bring new elements to the show. This show fused electronic music and rock. Farrell is into electronic music now; Navarro is still stuck on the rock. Some Jane’s songs had electronic danceable intros and they added a keyboard player for some extra texture. Navarro, still being into rock, kept the sound anchored with his classic riffs and good chops. Farrell’s DJ partner Alika kept things going in contemporary electronic mode in the down time (which there was a little too much of) with some good atmospheric jazzy drum and bass.

Farrell perhaps sensed that he and the boys (plus the lovely lady on keyboards) weren’t delivering the goods. He asked if the crowd loved them a few times and tried to interact with us personally. He mentioned that we are all family, saying, “Evil cowers in the face of greatness and we are not afraid.” He told us that we are “good people” and that he is too, “even with ripped pants” (during the first or second song he ripped the ass crack open on his tight red pants).

Farrell puffed on joints, at one time asking the audience for a light. After taking a puffs he said “Jah,” and “Jah protect us.” This made me laugh but I think he was serious in some way. He was probably also serious when, toward the end of the set, Farrell mumbled a few comments about us all being God’s friends, or children. The band played a fun drum and vocal encore to finish the almost 90 minute set (with breaks to change clothes and stages of course).

The show wasn’t amazing but for many teens and 20-somethings who hadn’t seen Jane’s before, I’m sure their stop to what Farrell dubbed the “Oregon Ballroom” (pronounced Or-uh-gone of course) was much appreciated. I can think of a lot worse ways to spend a Sunday night.