Jane's Addiction an 'Irresistible Force' in Tour Closer: Concert Review

Jane's Live Wiltern Perry Farrell L
Paul Familetti
L.A.'s prodigal rock sons return home and show off all sides on an epic night.

All of the elements were in place for a truly epic night at Los Angeles' Wiltern Theatre: Jane's Addiction was headlining a hometown show which was the final date of the band's Theater of the Escapists tour, plus it was the Saturday before Halloween.

Fittingly, the foursome came out in epic fashion, taking the stage just before 10 p.m. to the strains of Pink Floyd’s “Welcome To The Machine.” Bathed in red lights, a massive sculpture of two naked women behind them, dancers in long, flowing dresses on swings hanging from the ceiling and frontman Perry Farrell with his arms outstretched to both sides, the quartet opened with the hypnotic rhythms of “Underground,” from their most recent album, The Great Escape, and from there, steamrolled through a surprisingly short 14-song set that clocked in at just under 90 minutes. But whatever was missing in quantity was more than made up for in quality -- musically, visually and with true rock star form at every turn.

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Utilizing an effective mix of occasional video imagery, the blistering light show that melded blue, red and strobe lights and the dancers clad in leather during a monumental set-closing “Three Days,” the band created a massive production that perfectly complemented the music rather than overwhelm the songs.

That was most evident during the 10-minute plus “Three Days,” a locomotive of power, psychedelia and sex wherein the dancers, holding canes as they moved around the stage, flanked guitarist Dave Navarro during a stunning guitar solo and hovered around the shirtless Farrell as he slowly bounded around the stage ready to explode at any moment. All eyes in the sold-out Wiltern Theatre remained solidly fixed on a band at their musical peak. Indeed, the performance was also noteworthy for Stephen Perkins’ mighty drum solo.

Musically, Jane’s tends to be fiercest when on the same page, and that was definitely true of Saturday night as they displayed their full range of rock -- from frenetic to psychedelic to slow and mesmerizing -- and proved why, 20 years on, they remain, to quote one their own songs, an "irresistible force."

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It should comes as no surprise, then, that among the numerous high points were longtime crowd favorites like “Mountain Song” and "Jane Says," the latter of which displayed the band's versatility with a poignant rendition that positioned all four players at the front of the stage as Farrell held a bottle of bubbly. It was a moment that was both a moving and wistful celebration of their L.A. past and present. 

Farrell spoke often of his legendary hometown lore, from telling a tale of hanging in a parking lot with the Germs’ Darby Crash while he hurled bottles at trucks midway through “Just Because” to recalling a hooker with big “titties” before breaking into “Whores,” another highlight of the night. The banter became even more entertaining as chief orator Farrell somehow connected his love of breasts of all sizes and Halloween to his disdain for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. “They’re saying America will be a spooky place if Mitt Romney gets elected,” he said.

During interviews for the album -- only the band's fourth since breaking out in 1988 with Nothing's Shocking -- Farrell often spoke of creating an escape for the mind, body and soul. And other than the one Romney reference to bring the audience back to earth, Jane’s did just that, all the while reminding those in attendance that rock and roll can be simultaneously dangerous and inviting and dirty and glamorous. But most of all, in the hands of Jane’s Addiction, it is sexy.

Set List:

Mountain Song
Just Because
Been Caught Stealing
Ain’t No Right
Irresistible Force
Jane Says
Chip Away
Up The Beach
Three Days
Splash a Little Water On It
Ocean Size

Twitter: @THRMusic

Photos by Paul Familetti