Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Live On The Sunset Strip ... JANE'S ADDICTION!

There may be no better way to kick off a weekend of celebrating Independence and Freedom than to have your mind blown by Jane's Addiction. BLOWN!

Juana's Adiccion kicked off the Bing Sunset Strip Summer Concert Series at The Roxy last Friday night, in a show for FANS, called "Fan's Addiction". They weren't fronting. The people crowding the house were ALL Superfans, - you could tell. Fans that may not have ever seen Jane's live, or if they had, it had been a loooong while. The only way to get tickets was to win them from the band's website, Tweeting with Perry Farrell and Dave Navarro to win, or standing on line at The Roxy all day long (Rewarded in most cases. That's how packed it was). That makes for an extra special show, as out were the jaded seen it all types, and IN were the fans that count Jane's as one of their ALL-time favorite bands.

Like me. At the first Lollapalooza I literally somehow healed myself from too much sun and tequila & oranges ruin just in time to squeeze down front and scream along with every word Perry sang. That was the only time I've ever bounced back so dramatically, and it was because of the music. Now THIS night, I felt great to begin with, so it was all even better. Years have passed, both since that first Lollapalooza Jane's experience, and since Jane's recorded their first album - Jane's Addiction - in this very same venue. I am now blessed to call (longtime/former Venice dwellers) Perry and Etty Farrell friends, but that hasn't affected the fervor with which I revere the music, not one iota. It does, however, help a bit to get in the door to such a memorable evening.

Not an easy task. Those people had been lined up all day with the hopes of getting in The Roxy, and they were going to go OFF once inside. To behold such a spectacle, that - leaping ahead - HYPER ... I heard a lot of chatter after the show saying it had been the very best show many had EVER seen.

That show began with an opening set, not by some random up and comer band like usually is the case, but by a custom-made (by Perry) revue designed to shock and awe, put on by our own Venice Beach Freak Show! Todd Ray yelled "Where are the Freaks in the house?!" to unanimous applause from the house, and his cast of characters - Larry the Mexican Wolf Boy, Murrugun the Mystic, Brett the Sword Swallower, and The Rubber Boy - came out and had the crowd screaming the entire time.

Larry was hairy, Brett swallowed three swords at once (!), the Rubber Boy was jump-roping with his own arms, but Murrugun was the craziest. He pierced his flesh with metal skewers, all the way through, to where you had to either look away or risk throwing up. Yipes. The screams and gasps were authentic, and there's much more of that craziness to be seen each weekend on the Venice Boardwalk.

The skewers did not stop there. As tangible excitement built (like that old feeling you used to get pre-BIG show), next to take the stage were two tattooed and lingerie-clad ladies, one of whom took metal longass needles and inserted them through one cheek and out the other, licking it when it came out for good measure. More shrieking went down for that, but NOTHING compared to when both girls were suddenly hooked up to harnesses attached to metal rods in their backs ... flesh stretched out and crazy to where I had sympathy pain in my own piercing the next day, no joke.

Up they flew, swinging around from the ceiling, when the curtain dramatically rose and Jane's Addiction was revealed, blasting the opening notes of "Whores"!

To say that people went absolutely eyes-crossed crazy is too subtle ... all you could do was just scream senselessly at how Amaze-balls it all was. Perry dodged the girls as he sang, sometimes stopping to give them a swing push, as Dave tore through a possessed-like solo. I talked with many music biz folks after the show, and all agreed that it was one of the all-time Best Openings To A Show. Ev. Er.

The band was in perfect form from the outset: Perry smiling and having a ball; Dave skulking about the stage tearing his guitar to pieces, Stephen Perkins grinning like a little kid as he beat the daylights out of his drum kit, and Duff McKagan replacing Eric Avery seamlessly on the bass. The stage was done up as kind of an altar, with white Christmas lights hanging around a saintly painting and colorful Day Of The Dead-like accessories.

Awesome. (I'll be using that adjective a lot as we continue, I suspect).

"Ain't No Right" and "Had A Dad" immediately followed the spectacular opening number, and found Perry slapping fives with everyone down front, swigging from a bottle of red wine, and shimmy dancing along with the band he's fronted for over two decades, but performing his heart out like it was his first time.

He is the ultimate front man, he really is, and you can see the joy he gets out of these kind of moments coming off of him, like heat wave mirages (though it may really have been heat mirages, as it was a sweaty inferno of excitement in there). Dave calmly puffed away on a cigarette and shrugged his classic riffs out like it was no big deal. But it was.

Awesome. The crowd alone could tell you that, as they were SO into it for every last note and word played, you thought some would have to be carried out on gurneys.

Between songs, Perry said, "I'm talking to my homies in L.A. ... Kiss my ass, Boston!" (Referring, of course, to our recent NBA Smackdown with the Celtics - Ha!) L.A. was more than receptive too ... particularly when the "Everybody, everybody ..." opening to "Ted, Just Admit It" began, and Mrs. Farrell and her dancing partner, Stephanie Spanski, came out in black lingerie with feather butts, to bump and grind around the band. The guys (probably a bunch of girls too) in the place needed bibs at this point, so hot were these two.

Etty is a gorgeous woman - inside and out - and somehow managed to look like a wind machine was permanently on her - as cool and vampy (despite the heat), she pranced around her husband. The true love between them shone as bright as the spotlights. (I don't exaggerate in this case. They're the same at home as they are steaming up a stage. Theirs is a real and enviable love. So there.)

When the opening chords to "Mountain Song" started up, the audience was just GONE. Completely out of their minds. I personally was so happy to be there, I felt like I was vibrating like the breeze that comes out of speakers when you're too close - especially when I got a little Perry shout-out ("Cash in now, Carol ... Cash in now!") that pretty much made my Summer. When the resulting furor rose at that behemoth of a number's end, Perry said, "Do you know how much I love hearing that shit?!" Mad adulation - We meant the song, but he meant the cheering. There was a mutual love fest going on in the room, no doubt about it.

It continued with a crazy tearing through of "Been Caught Stealing", with Perry taking someone's cell camera and mugging for it, shaking his ass, and generally beaming throughout, while Stephen's curly-haired mohawk flopped around as he delivered a proper flogging to the song. Dave is just a blast to watch, and Duff is straight badass.

The slightly ominous tones of the dramatic "3 Days" started up, and Etty and Stephanie came out to flank Perry ("Three lovers in three ways ...") wearing black gags. Sexy, dark, edgy, DOPE as ever. For real, this band has held up almost miraculously, and makes a whole lot of newer bands seem like lint to pick off. Tight, almost telepathic tone changes, illustrated how being in it for the long haul makes for serious musical excellence. Duff as the new guy crunched out the bass lines like he was practicing them in night school after his GNR day job. Perfection. The song builds and builds, until Perry singing "All of us with wings .." felt undoubtedly true. Perkins took a blistering solo, and then it all exploded in such a way that left the room breathless ... but still yelling.

"Ain't life great?! I'm having such a fucking good time!", yelled Perry after that one, but it could have been said by anyone there. Strangers would pass by and high-five me, unprovoked. The resulting photos of the night show nothing but joy on every face you focus on. The real kind of happy that can't be faked. Shiny, excited, wild eyes were everywhere, and they lit up even more when the band revved up again for "Stop!" Perry was as dancing maniac, and the band showed zero mercy to the surging crowd. When it got to the "Hum ... along with me, hum along with the t.v. ... Whoa-oh-oh-oh, Whoa-oh-oh-oh, Whoa-oh-oh-OH-oh ..." part - ALL voices joined as one, and you could tell the entire band was thrilled, knowing that their heydays were far from over.

The entire Sunset Strip was thrilled (if the noise carried like I think it did) for "Ocean Size". It was done to epic proportions, and as Perry sang, "Wish I was Ocean size ...", I wanted to tell him, "Perry, You are." Nothing felt bigger at that moment in time, and as they rocked us to our collective cores, nothing but that feeling felt better. The stoke that comes from a good old- fashioned rock out cannot be diminished, nor can the camaraderie that comes from sharing that experience with a bunch of other like-minded new friends.

That was it for the regular set, but it started the frenzy anew, as rabid men and women shouted for more. Pretty soon, some roadies came out and set up some steel drums, which earned their own cheers. Uh-oh. That could only mean one thing ... and it did.

Stephen came out and stood at the steel drum set, Dave and Duff brought out acoustics, while Perry and the Girls danced around to the more than classic, "Jane Says". There wasn't one word of it that wasn't shouted along with by the entire room. Not one. When they brought up the house lights for the band to see the crowd sing-along, all the faces reflected the same pure giddy happiness. By the way, I don't care if you think I'm being gushy about all of this, I'm merely reporting the simple facts of a SPECTACULAR show. It was truly one for the ages.

"How are you all?" {{ ROOOOOAAAARRR!!! }} "Remember how vibrant the music scene used to be in L.A.? {{ WOOOOOOOOO!!!! }} "Well, I don't keep track, I just keep going!"
{{ AAAAHHHHH!! }} "We recorded our first album here in 1987, and I insulted every record executive in this whole city ... I invited 'em all to come check out my balls!" {{ A-HAHAHAH! }} "Tonight felt like the Good Old Days ... but these ARE the days!" {{ YEAAA-whistles-AAAAA-shrieks -AAAAAH! }} And with that, Dave, Stephen and Duff each began banging on big drums in unison at the front of the stage, signaling the opening to ... "Chip Away"!

You could barely stand how great it was in there then. That song has always felt just HUGE to me, and tonight it was that much and more. Like Ho. Ly. SHIT (That was the dominant phrase being uttered by nearby fans)! Etty and Stephanie were leading the clapping, the guys in the band were banging the drums senseless, and everyone else was just jumping up and down (waitresses, bartenders, security, EVERYONE!) as Perry screamed, "I don't, I don't, I don't feel easy!", over and over until the fever pitched and it all finally had to come to an end. Not that anyone wanted it to.

Jane's Addiction
came to the front of the stage, arm in arm, and stood there just soaking up the adulation for a beautiful moment of complete triumph. After all the years, hardships, fights, yes, addictions, memories, and completely righteous shows like this, they're still standing. And so are we. Not just standing either, but SOARING. The arms of everyone present did not come down and the throats did not stop straining with ragged effort and noise until the house lights came on, and we all realized that it was over over. And with that realization came the accompanying one: group-think/talk of it having been "One of the greatest shows I've ever ever seen, Man!"

It really was. Like old school shows, where people didn't want to leave, they just wanted to keep talking about it. When they were finally forced to leave, they kept talking about it on the sidewalk outside, and on up until right now, when I'm still talking about it. And I'll for sure never stop smiling about the memory of it.

So as the Summertime begins to roll, I thank Jane's Addiction for sharing their gifts, and that feeling of being rocked until you're hyperkid when relating the tale. For me, it's an escape, a treasure, and ...

"It brought peace to my mind in the Summertime ... and it rolled ...".

*All photographic excellence was committed by Paul Gronner.com.


  1. NICE!!!! I don't know if I can show Tony (tears)

  2. sooooo GOOD honey
    LOVE LOVE LOVED IT and paul's pics wowsers.....etty look gorge!!
    good arse writing, my summertime rolls lover
    see you soon biotch!!

  3. LOVE this... brings back so so many great memories - wish I could have been there for this one, but alas I'm in NYC...

  4. And I thought their Santa Barbara show was off the hook....this one sounds like it was the top "1%"!!!!! ; )

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