Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Nightwatchman Occupies L.A.'s Troubadour!

Tom Morello: The Nightwatchman has been all over the place alongside Occupiers, helping them to be heard. In fact, he opened his sold out return home show last night at The Troubadour by saying, "I'm The Nightwatchman, and this has become much more than a One Man Revolution!" The song of that same name opened his fiery set, and it was real clear from the outset that since the early Nightwatchman days of Tom out there singing his protest songs in coffee shops, trying to drown out the espresso machine, he is certainly no longer alone in the struggles we all face - together.

Fresh from Occupy LA earlier in the day, many of Tom's new friends from downtown were in the building (as he gave out free tickets!) and were extra vocal, extra into it, the whole night. (One hammered but charming young Occupier asked, "Can I occupy your heart?", so the movement is even providing new pick-up lines!) The entire evening, I just kept thinking, "FINALLY!", as I've been alongside Tom at many events, for a long time, and it's so exciting to see people actually starting to more than listen to his songs of freedom, but to ACT on the injustice that has been so sickeningly rampant in our country - and the world - for ages.

He was playing with a home team advantage, sure, but this crowd was special anyway. SUPER FANS - singing along every word, lowering their heads and nodding at the profundity of the lyrics, raising fists the entire night, yelling their solidarity, and generally going all-around nuts. "Dogs of Tijuana" began a clap-along that kept up all night, with the rowdy fans beating time along with Tom's foot on his stomp box. WOOOO! When that one ended, Tom said, "Over the course of the last 6 weeks, I've found my Occupation!" Sure enough, as he's like the folk singer Superman these days, flying into Madison for the Union battle last winter, playing benefits all over the place, speaking his mind on the likes of the Olbermann, Smiley, and Maher shows, and more recently, showing up to play for any Occupy _________ site he's remotely near. There is no one that walks the walk like Tom Morello. Period.

"Flesh Shapes The Day" and "The Fabled City" were both great illustrations of what a good ring-leader Tom is ... one second it's absolute pin-drop quiet, the next it's mad clapping and screaming along, then back to quiet whenever he asked for it. Masterful crowd control, really. The Cops at the various Occupations could learn a thing or two from The Nightwatchman. The last lines of "Fabled City" go, "On the wire outside my window, there sit one hundred swallows. And I suspect that if one flew, then 99 would follow". Hearing the cheers after that one, it was hard not to think of those 99% of us finally following.

Carl Restivo from The Nightwatchman's Freedom Fighter Orchestra joined him on stage to play the Ben Harper part on Tom & Ben's duet off the new World Wide Rebel Songs album, "Save The Hammer For The Man". They wrote the song together after some mayhem during our 2008 Justice Tour stop in Chicago, when Ben asked Tom if he wanted him to bring down the hammer on some folks. Tom replied, "Save the hammer for The Man" - and a song was born. Carl is so talented and versatile, I've heard him be everyone from Sting to Rhianna to now Ben. Badass. Tom brought out his electric guitar for his scorching solo on that one, and peoples' eyes spun like the Mac pinwheel thing as they watched. Really.

"I don't write many love songs, but I did write one for my new guitar, 'cause sometimes it's the best friend you have in the trenches," said Tom as introduction to his new song, "Black Spartacus Heart Attack Machine". "Union made, Let Freedom Ring!!!" He proceeded to play that new guitar so hard he broke a string. While adjusting from that, Tom asked for people to go insane for the next 15 seconds of tuning, which they obliged, loudly. In addition to all the fighting for justice, being a husband and parent, having two other bands, etc etc, Tom has also written a comic book called Orchid, a class conscious comic (finally!) that was available at the merch table for $1. Alongside "The Nightwatchman's Little Red Book". Rad.

Carl and Tom did an acoustic duet on "Union Town" that went over huge with the audience, and then they harmonized, and Tom lit up "The Fifth Horseman Of The Apocalypse" with some beautiful, intricate, flamenco sounding guitar solos. Completing a trio of songs from the new album, Tom told of how he was inspired by the empathy of 9/11 and the recent 10 year Anniversary of that awful day, and thinking that people in our country would NEVER go to war again if we could see the victims in other countries like we saw our victims that day. Tom kept waiting to hear someone sing that song in the aftermath, and when he didn't, he wrote it himself. "No One Left" is quiet and beautiful and heavy, and the joint was silent - and not just because Tom said, "Quiet, or The Nightwatchman will show you the back of his hand". They felt the reverence all on their own, as it was impossible not to.

Tom's Aunt Isabel taught him at 4 years old how to root for the Underdogs of the world, because she turned him into a Cubs Fan. He joked that she died without ever seeing a Cubs Championship, so he had to have kids so that some Morello might one day have that joy. In tribute to his Aunt, he got out his Irish War Drum and banged out "St. Isabel", one of my favorites. "ROCK ON, TOM!!!", someone yelled, and Tom said in reply, "I WILL rock on, thank you!" And so he did/does.

Word came in of hundreds of arrests at Occupy Oakland, and Tom said, "That just means we're getting under their skin, and we're doing the right thing. There are 1,300 Occupations as of now, and I suspect that will double in the next couple of weeks. They push back, we come back stronger and smarter!" YEEEEEEAAAAAHHHHH! And that's "The Road I Must Travel". Everyone sang along on that "Na na na na!" chorus, and I was delighted to see a whole gang of much older, very grey patriots standing up and clapping along with huge smiles on their faces, hanging over the balcony, as into it as the young whippersnappers down front, some of whom maybe just got drawn into activism for the first time. It was exciting to behold.

But not as exciting as what came next. I think if I could choose one song to show someone what Tom Morello is all about, playing-wise, I'd want them to see him play "The Ghost Of Tom Joad". He's made the Springsteen classic his own, and I'd go so far as to say he's blown it up to be even better than it was ever intended to be. Carl kept the acoustic melody going while Tom melted faces with his electric Arm The Homeless virtuosity ... SO good. I've seen it played a lot, and I still get chills every time. The solo with his teeth doesn't hurt either.

"And Tom said, Wherever there's somebody fightin' for a place to stand, or a decent job or a helpin' hand, Wherever someone's struggling to be free, Look in their eyes, Ma, you'll see me" ... could have been written verbatim by Tom Morello, and it was even greater that his own Mother, Mary ("The 88 year old Matriarch of Molotovs!") was there, smiling down from the balcony, fist ever raised. It was extra special watching her watch Tom, as the room exploded after that perfect example of the genre henceforth known as "Pure Folk Heavy Metal Thunder".

That one prompted a very true chant: "The People! United! Will Never Be Defeated!" which was instantly stopped when Tom played his gorgeous (and Mary's favorite) "Garden Of Gethsemane". From the sheer uproar of a moment earlier, now it became so hushed in there that Tom could do his thing where he sings away from the mic and you still hear him perfectly. Magic.

"Woody Guthrie would be 99 today, and he would be at Occupy LA!" said Tom, as he directed the people for the "Class War Anthem" of "This Land Is Your Land" - with all censored verses restored ... and moshed to! "This is the Valley Forge of the Movement ... We have to weather this winter ... And we will have an American Spring, because my Brothers and Sisters, This Land is OUR Land!"Woody would love Tom, I'm sure, and love even more that his kindergarten classic has become a rock star's rousing set closer that has everyone in the place singing along and jumping up and down as one ("From Grandmothers in the balcony to guitar geeks down front - SING!") ... and I repeat as ONE. Which we all are.

People went so loudly bezerk after that one, that Tom then invited EVERYONE to join him on stage for his new sing-along title track, "World Wide Rebel Songs". Nearly everyone present took him up on his offer, squishing in around Tom so close you couldn't even see him anymore. Cool - and rare - as that is of him, it's also funny: "I know it's exciting, but don't step on my shit!" "Someone is petting me, stop that, it's distracting!" "OK, one guy in front here is going to film this and put it on YouTube. The rest of you are going to live in the moment for once!" {A mf ing MEN! - Auth.} "Someone just put a baby in me on stage!" "If you forget the words, just raise a militant fist!" It was total mayhem up there, but the Rebels onstage DID sing out loud, all night long ... and it was good. Real good.

Tom's traditional closing statement of, "Take it easy ... " was answered in a loud collective yell by the whole gang, "BUT TAKE IT!" and that turned into another chant of "We! Are! The 99 Percent!" over and over until The Nightwatchman had extricated himself from the swarm and left the stage.

Looking down from the balcony at all the spirit and enthusiasm and camaraderie and SOLIDARITY in the room as it all went down, all I kept thinking was, that truly and finally, WORLD WIDE ...

It's ON.

And The Nightwatchman is playing the soundtrack.

See you there.

Monday, October 24, 2011

River Too Wide by Matt Ellis - A Venice Video

A gang of friends got together recently to create the gorgeous new music video for the Matt Ellis "River Too Wide" track off of his excellent Births, Deaths, and Marriages album. It was shot - all night long - in their Venice backyard and features a slew of Venice faces. Just in time for Halloween and Dia de Los Muertos, it is a celebration of LIFE, love and friendship. And it is awesome. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The 2012 Other Venice Film Festival

The 8th Annual Other Venice Film Festival was another success - and a blast - this year, featuring wonderful work from our own local filmmakers, as well as entries from around the world. The festival ran from October 13-16 this year, and it all started out with a big rager at Beyond Baroque for Opening Night.

The Featured Artist of the OVFF was William Attaway, whose art was displayed in and around the entrance to Beyond Baroque. It was great to see so many creative people all coming out to support each other in their different mediums, and something that I hope will only grow as more and more, our circles overlap.

The first event drew all sorts of local legends of skate and surf, as the Feature competition kicked off with a screening of big wave surfer, Allen Sarlo's, documentary, Work To Surf. It was the hottest night of the year in Venice, I think, so we watched the film in chairs outside under the stars - and close to the open bar. I chatted a bit with festival founder, Reuben DeLacasas, before the film started, and he said they had far fewer feature length submissions this year, and the ones that were submitted were mostly documentaries, as people are into them and really, real life is better than fiction most of the time. With the economy being what it is these days, shorts are more prevalent, and easier to produce, obviously. The economy being down also severely hampered the sponsorship support that has been contributed in past years, so most of this year's Festival was coming out of Reuben's own pocket. Ouch. Hopefully that can be sorted out for next year, as it really is a valuable display of the deep talent pool here in our Venice.

Work to Surf was super entertaining, and most deserving of the Best Feature Abbot Award that it ultimately won. Jaw dropping big wave surfing plus laugh out loud funny at times, it takes you to the "War Zone" of 1970's Venice, when, as Jeff Ho says in the film, "Their JOB was to go out and tear the waves apart!" Then they grew up, and Allen Sarlo decided to get into real estate so he could subsidize his travels to go surf big waves, and there you get the title. The working just to surf tied in with the soul surfing ethic, and Sarlo and his good friend, Mark Foo, made a pact that they would always "Work to Surf". Foo died at Mavericks on a day that Sarlo didn't go. He was crushed by his friend's death, and the film is dedicated to Foo. Known as "The Wave Killer", Sarlo is described in the film by Kelly Slater as, "The thing about Sarlo is he's just a good guy ... until he gets in the water, then he's an animal!" And now, still working to surf, Sarlo's legacy will be carried on by his two surfing kids, Sophia and Colton. I loved this film, and agree with Mr. Slater that Allen Sarlo couldn't be a nicer guy.

The bar re-opened for an intermission, and then we saw another good and funny skate film, A Day At The Pool, about how maybe a guy named Benton Shakely was really the guy who started the whole skating pools thing. After that, the party was on, and off the record.

Friday night's "Premiere Night" segment saw the brilliant short film, Admissions, (directed by Harry Kakatsakis) steal the show. It was produced by local Venetian, Gavin Behrman, who told me that they finished it under the wire, as it was important to him that it premiere in Venice. Starring Academy Award nominee, James Cromwell, as the guy at the Admissions Desk leading to Heaven or Hell, the film is a (15:00 timed) discussion between an Israeli couple and the Palestinian suicide bomber who killed them. It is so wise and well written (by John Viscount) that I honestly feel like it should not only win the Oscar for Best Short Film next time (maybe it will!), but probably deserves a Peace Prize too. Honestly. As Cromwell says in explanation to both outraged parties, "You can't want Hell for other people without being in hell yourself". It's very deep, very profound, and should be required viewing for people in conflict the world over. After this (truthful) gushing, you will be happy to know that Admissions won the Abbot for Best Short, (voted on by the audiences over the weekend) so it's off to the races! GO!

Short Films that stood out to me on the standing room only Saturday, (which ran very behind, as everyone shrugged, "It's Venice") were Sandbox Lullaby, directed by Joey Indrieri - a very dark tale shot all around very sunny Venice, and The Unicorn Girl, a beautifully shot fantastical story about a girl (local Amelia Mulkey, who also directed) - and a unicorn. Thanks to Amelia's swag of a headband with a unicorn horn attached, I also had a Halloween costume! Win, win! The New Bicycle was a good one all the way from India, by Arshdeep Singh Jawandha, about a kid who is desperate for a bike - Venice people can understand that one.

The Abbot for Best Music Video went to "Love Is Love" by Gabriela Tagliavini, and I had to miss that section as there was a beautiful wedding on the beach in Venice that I had to attend. But Congratulations to all the winners, and to everyone that participated at all! Making a film is hard work, from idea to screening, by everyone involved, and it's kind of a drag that there even has to be a "Best" of any of it. Having said that, the ones that won were really, really good.

Everyone had another ball at the Closing Night award ceremony, hosted by the hilarious Jill Jacobson. The three Abbot Awards were given out (cut back to three this year as those things are expensive) and the fact that great film making is alive and well in our community was duly celebrated. It's a special festival, and also a lot of work - done mostly by Reuben DeLacasas by himself with volunteers. There may have to be a change of venue next year, as it's all been too expensive, and even non-profit Beyond Baroque wouldn't budge much on their profit, but maybe the local community can help each other out a little more and band together to make this thing awesome - and not break one guy's bank. Venue donations, sponsorships, HELP - I think we have it in us, right?

Cheers to the Other Venice Film Festival, for a great time/s, and for giving all this excellent and thought provoking film work a place to be seen, right in the neighborhood.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Occupy Venice!

That's right.

Strength with Love.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Kris Kristofferson & Merle Haggard Together at The Greek

Very exciting music week last week, for sure. Topped off by the complete joy that is seeing Mr. Kris Kristofferson play live. If you've been introduced to me, you already know that he is my favorite. Always has been. So it was that I went off to the Greek Theater with my fellow Kris lover, Sweet D, for our third KK show together (!), this time in an evening with both Kris and Merle Haggard playing together. To a crowd of obvious disciples, so it was like a big honky tonk party the whole time.

A party that we were late to, because traffic in L.A. is ridiculous always, but especially on a Friday of a long weekend. We finally got there and all squared away just in time to hear the opening chords of "Me and Bobby McGee"! We were thrilled, more so as we walked down and down and down to our very excellent seats that let us see every cool expression that crossed the legends' faces the entire night. Kris sang, "Good enough for me ... and Janis" in a shout-out to his dearly departed friend who made that song famous. The audience was rowdy, and more than into it, calling out requests, hooting and hollering when their favorites were played, and laughing at every quip out of Kris and Merle's mouths. They pretty much alternated their songs, but sang together on them all, backed up by Merle's backing band, The Strangers. "This next one's for all the drunks in the crowd", {Hoots! Hollers!} said Merle to introduce, "Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down". Though the voices have grown a little shakier, and the playing a little creakier, and they use teleprompters for the lyrics these days, these old friends were clearly having the time of their lives playing together again, and thus, so were all of us listening.

It was classic after classic all night, with each song getting its due yells from the superfans. Merle - "Silver Wings". Kris - "Loving Her Was Easier" (a favorite of mine - I won't lie - there were tears). Then a cover of their mutual friend, Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues" that had people up and dancing and raising their glasses in the air. Merle and Kris were cracking each other up all night, and we laughed along with them. "I remember when women would cook and chop wood", said Merle. I bet he does too.

Kris - "Here Comes That Rainbow Again". Sigh. And "For all the working men", Merle played his "Working Man Blues". Very timely considering the lack of jobs right now, and the entire country mobilizing to protest our corrupt banks and corporations. People sang along with gusto, and deservedly. Ahhh, "Sing Me Back Home" from Kris, which had Sweet D and I elbowing each other at how for real absolutely dreamY that Kristofferson still is. The best.

"The most fantastic thing about a show with me and Kris is that we're both out of jail at the same time ... or the hospital", wise-cracked Merle, before launching into his "30 Again". It made us kind of sad to hear these guys singing about their hey-days so wistfully, but also served as a reminder to live it UP while you can, man.

There is such clear mutual affection between these guys, that you just loved them both. I never really got into Merle before (saw him open for Bob Dylan a few years ago and kind of shrugged about it after), but now I'm a fan. He's funny and sweet and talented and yeah, I get it now.

"This one's for my kids ... and their Mamas", said Kris to begin another favorite, "From Here To Forever". Just lovely. There was a little old man in The Strangers that stood up to play his lap steel guitar during this one, which was kind of precious. As a retort to Kris, Merle introduced his next one by saying, "I wrote this one for MY Mama", bending Kris over laughing. "Mama Tried" was another party song that everyone knew and sang along with. Then Kris's great, "The Pilgrim". I'm trying to keep the gushing to a minimum, but Come ON with this man! Merle picked up his fiddle (that he rules at) for "Working In Tennessee", a story about losing his guitar in the Nashville floods. That's the thing with these great singer/songwriters - they're telling actual STORIES, not just cobbling together random words and beats. You can picture everything happening as you go along with them through their tales. I love it.

"You notice how good it smells in this hall?", said Kris as there was a pervasive, unmistakable wafting of weed over the proceedings throughout the chill, autumn night in the hills. That was perfect timing for "Sunday Morning Coming Down" and when he got to the part where he sings, "Wishing, Lord, that I was stoned ...", Kris smiled and nodded to the crowd, prompting a guy in the front row to blow so much smoke towards the band that I thought it was a smoke machine. The whole place laughed, and it looked like Kris and Merle breathed a little deeper on that tune.

"I was the only one who knew the words, and it had to be written", said Merle in reference to his hit,"Okie From Muskogee". It was Merle's BIG crowd pleaser, especially when HE got to the line, "We don't smoke marijuana ..." where he stopped and said, "In the old days you would never hear the WORD marijuana on a microphone", to which the front row guy responded with another giant cloud of smoke. "We got drunk like God wants us to do" ... earned more yells and a toast in unison from the whole place. As I mentioned at the outset, it was a party.

For the last song of the night (as there was no encore, sadly), Kris and Merle harmonized beautifully on "Why Me?" Hear:

Why me Lord, what have I ever done

To deserve even one

Of the pleasures I've known

Tell me Lord, what did I ever do

That was worth loving You

Or the kindness You've shown

... And try to come up with someone who just nails it lyrically every time like Kris Kristofferson does. Not easy. He is an American Treasure. I keep waiting for that Kristofferson autobiography, as you just know it will be the most interesting, riveting read ever. For real.

They took their bows to raucous cheering. "God Bless! What a great crowd!", said Kris before departing the stage, and he was right. This was a party crowd, and an appreciative one as well. We yelled for more, but it was not to be this time.

Lights up, stars out, a glorious night indeed. Though we didn't hear it this time, this night will most certainly be added in "For The Good Times".

*Photos by Alexina Matisse and Harry Wilson
*Video by Alexina Matisse

Friday, October 7, 2011

Jane's Addiction Live on The Jimmy Kimmel Show

Well, it's a pretty good week when you see Jane's Addiction twice in it! I went to their stellar show at the John Anson Ford on Monday night, and then got hooked up by my good pal, Brad, to see them again at The Jimmy Kimmel Show, where he works. My friend, Steph, and Brad's wife, Maryjane, both love Jane's and had never seen them live, so this was going to be FUN.

After some time in the fun - and packed - Kimmel green room party zone, we trooped outside to the outdoor stage behind the studio on Hollywood Boulevard. A loud guy riles up the crowd a bit in a pretty obnoxious fashion, then Jimmy Kimmel comes out to introduce the band. The crowd was all ages, and ALL into it. If you saw the show on t.v., the enthusiasm was genuine, I assure you.

It's usually a short set when a band plays Kimmel, and they only air one song, but the crowd was happy to hear anything by Jane's. The guys in the band got deafening screams just for walking on stage. The "On Air" signal went down, Jimmy K. intro'd the song, and we got to hear the new "Irresistible Force" from their new album (coming out next week, the 18th!), The Great Escape Artist. I love it. It's classic sounding the first time you hear it.

Then right into "Stop", which featured a ton of confetti falling all over, and Etty Farrell and her dancing twin (Stephanie?) in sparkling outfits, vamping hotly all over the stage. Speaking of the stage, Perry was not happy with it and threatened to sue Kimmel if he broke his foot. Seemed a little dangerous.

"Just Because" was great as ever, and included an eyeball searing Navarro solo, and Stephen Perkins grinning - as ever - as he banged the drums.

Chris Chaney as the new bass player, more than holds his own with these longtime band mates, seamlessly integrating himself into the songs, some of which are twenty+ years old! "I just wanna work and get high!", yelled Perry after that one, earning a lot of shouts in solidarity for that.

The last one of the far too brief set - but enough to STOKE Steph and Maryjane for their first show - was the epic, "Ocean Size". It's just perfectly titled, as this song is always HUGE. I love it so much. As did the entire audience begging for more when they were done. Screaming their heads off! Perry said, "For the second half of the night, we're partying. But not with you." Burn! People laughed. As they turned to exit the stage, Perry said, "Party! The country suffers for the lack of partying". So THAT'S the problem here. That's fixable! Phew.

Thanks, Jane's, for another great GREAT time. Every time.

The Great Escape Artist! October 18th! Get yours.

(And all the other albums if you don't own. Each is crucial.)

Thank you, Morrisons!!!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Venice Issues, Venice Nap

I am a bit bothered by some things lately, and with all the brothers and sisters out protesting with arms up on Wall Street (and it's spreading!), I need to address at least two issues (three counting how badly we need more bike lanes, but that's for another day) here in Venice.

One - if you go down The Boardwalk at night, you will not believe how many people are camped out to sleep down there. More than I've ever seen. I'm not sure if it's all due to economic situations or if a lot of it is by choice (or by addiction), but it's really sad to see. Especially when the Lincoln Place Apartments over there behind the Ralph's on Lincoln are - and have been for years - totally empty. Patrol guys bike around the perimeter to make sure no one is squatting or whatever. ACRES of empty, unused housing is sitting there rotting while we had the first big rain of the season the other night, and scores of people slept outside in it down at the beach. That is WRONG. Even if it's just letting people crash out there until they sort out what they're going to do about it all, at least it would be a short-term solution to get a LOT of people in out of the cold. Really.

Two - There are new robot looking trash cans down at the beach that are locked to prevent people, I guess, from digging in them to get the cans or bottles out. We all know Los Angeles/California budgets are broke, but the few coins that recycling revenue could bring them cannot possibly be more than the fancy new trash cans cost. When someone is at the point where they need to be digging through disgusting trash cans to get a couple cents to eat food, and we're not LETTING them do that (!), how can we feel like that's right as human beings?

These are the kinds of things worth protesting over. And we can all see for ourselves that when the PEOPLE band together ... things get done. Things CHANGE. So Let's go.

On an entirely different note (but it IS about sleeping on the beach), look at this dream of a nap set-up we came upon the other morning on the beach:

Once again, Venice ... the good and the bad go together. It's up to us to make sure the good persists.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Jane's Addiction Live at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre

Jane's Addiction last played at the John Anson Ford Amphitheater 23 years ago, and returned to that same stage last night (and tonight), looking and sounding as fresh as they ever did. The first thing I heard when I found my spot in the little, tiny, super-intimate Ford venue was a guy nearby saying, "Well, this is a pretty great spot for a rad show!" And boy, was he right. The Ford is all nestled into a Hollywood hillside, surrounded by trees, the crescent moon, and stars. And on this night, a bunch of lasers and smoke and serious rock and roll.

The night had two opening bands, Boys and IO Echo, both bands fronted by women that sound straight from the 1980s (Boys even did a Pat Benatar "Love Is A Battlefield" cover). I was happy to see some ladies on the rock scene, and they did a good job of engaging the crowd, earning some appreciative hoots and hollers. This not easy with a crowd that was clearly there to see their beloved Jane's. Speaking of the crowd, it was an interesting one to observe ... surprising amounts of grey hair, but also a lot of the usual young Hollywood Hipster variety, and one new friend even admitted, vaguely embarrassed, that he'd never heard Jane's music before. Blasphemy! His mind was about to be blown.

That would prove not that hard to do, considering the beauty of the night and the venue. I went over with two of my friends that I first saw Jane's Addiction with at the very first Lalapalooza in 1991, Tony and Brandon. We were as excited to see them today as we were then, and even though time and circumstance have blessed me to now actually know the Farrell family, the thrill doesn't go away at all when the lights go down and you hear those familiar chords ring out. WOOOOOO!

Pink Floyd's "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" came on, the lights went down, people stood and screamed before one thing happened, on anticipation alone. Then Perry strolled out in a sharp suit and Dave, Stephen and Chris Chaney took their places, and they immediately tore the place up with "Whores". People were going crazy (It helped that the Ford generously lets people bring in their own booze - yep). Perry's face was one giant grin from start to finish, and the fans reflected that back to him all night long. "WE'RE HOME, LA! And we're throwing a party, you know why? Just because!" With that they threw down "Just Because", and already the guy beside me (who had painted the Jane's banner hanging alongside the venue and had never heard their tunes) had his arms in the air, screaming. Pretty sure he's ordering up all the Jane's catalog today.

While the boys in the band were down front kicking out the jams, the girls (led by Mrs. Farrell, Etty) of the Jane's world were climbing around up above among the trees and rocks, looking like the sexiest wood nymph fairies ever. The whole scenario was dream-like, with lights and smoke and props and cool ... one felt fully transported through the music and the visual feast - and I was totally sober.

Perry shouted out to some L.A. towns ("Venice!!!") and said, "I LOVE living in L.A. - you all make me feel so good, I could just float over Los Angeles", and as fluid as his dance antics are, you believed that he could. A bottle of red wine was now in Perry's hand, and he swigged liberally from it as they blew up "Ain't No Right" and "Ted, Just Admit It" in a back to back beat down. Perry screaming "Sex Is Violence!" while Etty and Stephanie rocked on the sideways rocking chair in S & M style outfits was pure, classic Jane's. By the way, it should be noted ... those ladies are damn fine DANCERS. It's easy to get distracted by the sexy get-ups and props, but they have serious, classically trained MOVES. Super fun to watch. Stephen Perkins particularly brought it on this one, per usual. After that one, Perry said how they'd previously played the Ford in 1988, "But Dave doesn't remember it". At that show, Axl Rose approached Perry and said, "You're a real artist, Man." Perry laughed and said, "I don't think I said anything back." Again, classic.

Perry spoke about the fancy threads he was wearing (and soaking through with the sweat of a consummate entertainer), and said, "But back in the day, I used to just steal shit!" So of course they launched into a fiery, "Been Caught Stealing", that pleased the crowd to no end. Shirtless, perfectly preserved Dave blazed, both on his guitar and on the smoke that his guitar tech came out to light for him, mid-song. Badass.

Jane's Addiction is releasing their new album, The Great Escape Artist, on October 18th (!!!), and they played a new track from it next, "End To The Lies". There was a bit of the lull in the crowd typical of people not yet knowing the words and biding time 'til they hear their next old favorite tune, but it has all the makings of being a future classic. Perry's voice is so inimitable that everything he sings sounds epic and familiar. I cannot wait to hear the whole album of new jams, based on this one alone. At song's end, Perry said, "I love that guitar shit" and vocally imitated the metal slide sound of Dave's guitar, cracking people up. I totally agree with him, by the way.

Sweet lasers began to swirl and Perry said, "We kick ass all over the world, but we can't wait to get back to L.A. - and we let 'em know, L.A.! Fuck yeah!" That brought screams that only intensified when they began "Ocean Size" - which is exactly how big that song felt. SO good. Right from there, the place turned all black and red, and the ominous opening strains of "3 Days" began. Etty and Stephanie were bound and gagged and gyrating all over the stage, acting out the story of those 3 Days of song lore. Dave had a blistering solo, and Stephen had an extendo drum session that had fan guys slapping fives. Literally every single camera phone was out and capturing (or trying to - you really had to be there) the scenery. Here's a video that I snaked off of YouTube that gives you a little feel:

Perry recently had knee surgery, but you would sure never know it. He was just NON-stop: dancing like a marionette let loose off his strings, strutting, posing, jumping, ruling. The big anthem-y one off the new album, "Irresistible Force" featured lasers and pictures in the smoke, and every marking of a Jane's hit. From that we went right into a medley of L.A. tunes - The Doors' "L.A. Woman - The Germs' "Lexicon Devil" - X's "Nausea" - that was a total highlight until "Mountain Song" came next and easily topped it. Girls popped out of a box on the side of the theater, but I don't even know if many people noticed them grinding around, so transfixed were they by Perry's own moves. My friend said, "I was Perry-lyzed" - meaning he didn't notice much else. Most everyone there would understand.

While slapping and shaking hands all night with people down front, Perry said, "We're under the stars! I fucking love living here, it's a dream!" There was a guy down front from Israel, and Perry said, "We want to hang out with you in Israel. AND the Palestinians. We want peace in the Middle East!" (He gave the guy his bottle of wine at show's end, saying, "L'Chaim!" Rad.)

"Stop" was next, and it was crazy, and no one wanted it to stop. Every voice sang along the "Hum, along with me, hum along with the t.v., Whoa-oh-oh-oh ..." part, making Perry smile as confetti fell down on everyone, looking like snow in the laser lights. So so good.

After a short departure, which the audience filled with chanting and clapping for more, the band came back on to set up for an encore. Perry spoke about how now days he has to "get up at 7 a.m. to help my kids put on their underwear. That part sucks." And how he hopes they grow up ok living in Los Angeles ..."Uncle Dave is gonna have a little talk with them", which cracked them and us up. (For the record, they are wonderful kids, and are going to be epic adults, I assure you).

All the guys lined up at the front of the stage, with Dave now on acoustic guitar, and Stephen now on congas and steel drum - which we knew meant "Jane Says". It did. Once again, the entire amphitheater sang along to every single note. When the guys stood at the stage's edge at the end and received the crowd's adulation, they were shining back the beaming faces of everyone there. From the guy that has never missed an L.A. Jane's show, to the guy that had never even heard their music before, everyone there was equally thrilled. We yelled for more, and everyone has their own personal favorites they still wanted to hear, but no one there could have asked for a more beautiful night outside, under the moon and the stars, with their friends and the music they love.

As Perry said, "It's like a dream". A really, really good one.