I seldom see concerts in arenas these days; the artist/audience medium too diluted and choreographed to appeal to the raw sonic instincts I have grown gratefully accustomed to. That being said, I jumped at the chance to see Jane’s Addiction at the Philadelphia Spectrum, the arena that housed my first concert experiences like Motley Crue and Guns n Roses, and then later the hallowed room that delivered my earliest Dead and Phish glory nights. Jane’s was together again, complete with elaborate stage festivities and a booming soundsystem, for Perry Farrell’s new brainchild, the Jubilee Festival.

This festival is to commemorate the Jubilee, a tradition in Jewish mysticism, or Caballah, as Farrell has become ensconced in study and practice, supposedly giving up his dark opiate days and S+M filled activities. Femi Kuti was supposed to open but was denied Visa privileges, and Pennsylvania’s own Live preceded the headliners. The vibe turned strange as the house lights came down and LTJ Bukem-like drum and bass came over said soundsystem. The smooth, analogued-out rollers were from Farrell’s recently released album Song Yet to Be Sung, and spun for over a half an hour. Darting laser beams and strobelights created a marginal party vibe. The somewhat restless eclectic mix of fluorescent mohawked punks, suburban skate kids, dreaded and bald-head peoples of all colors and smattering of exquisite women sort of milled about instead of raving out in nervous anticipation as I imagine Farrell’s twisted jovial mind envisioned.

With a grand entrance that would make Jon Bon Jovi and W. Axl Rose eat their hearts out, Jane’s Addiction, the ultimate rock stars, began with a lavish setting of Middle Eastern décor and suggestive, traditional dancing. Farrell rose from an enormous flowing white skirt that had five dancers underneath it, waving it about over their heads like we did as elementary schoolers playing with the parachute in gym class. Topless go-go dancers swung from an enormous shining merry-go round while an American flag was prominently displayed in the background, along with much other Jewish spiritual embellishment. Guitar hero and resident sex symbol Dave Navarro, looking slick, mighty fit, and raging, was shirtless clad in light jeans and cowboy boots. Miniature drummer Stephen Perkins sported a mohawk, Clashed-out clad in a black tank top and combat pants and boots. Original bassist Eric Avery has not buried the hatchet with Perry, so Porno for Pyros’ Martin Le Noble dutifully filled out the foursome, although making the group 3/5ths of Porno as well as 3 quarters of Jane’s(Perkins drums for PFP).

Opening with an abbreviated “Kettle Whistle” seamlessly into the scorching surfing tribute “Ocean Size,” both Farrell and Navarro were in full rock star form. After disrobing the crazy skirt, Farrell leaped about the stage frantically as the bar chord refrain had just about every guy in the place flailing air guitar. In an enveloping next half hour, Jane’s tore through classic after classic with reckless abandon; early on they busted a downright scary “Three Days,” showing The Disco Biscuits’ hometown just exactly how ferocious and soulful that epic romp really is. “Ain’t No Right” lost a little of its metal edge in a muddy mix, but still provided a glimpse of how dangerous this band was in its mid-eighties LA club days. It was during this speeded-up thrasher that Navarro stepped it up with annihilating fretboard mastery and gritty tone. Not to be outdone, Farrell swung violently on the merry-go-round while delivering the third verse and then whipped off of the thing and right up the drum riser to pair the chorus with Perkins maniacal bashing up close and personal. The song that introduced me to these icons, “Stop” got this mostly tame audience all riled up, and finally got a pit up and slamming in the general admission area.

One of the more touching highlight of the evening was the inclusion of the soaring ballad “Summertime Rolls,” although this tune stood out as one that sorely missed Eric Avery’s moody bass strumming. The band retired as some house music came over the PA, only to reappear on a very Rolling Stones-esque acoustic mini-stage in the middle of the arena. They busted the obvious “Jane Says” to a raucous audience chorus; the tune featured marvelous steel drumming by Perkins. Navarro delivered a bluesy acoustic number with somber vocals while Perry banged a triangle, and then the three musicians drummed a tribal beat together as Farrell debuted “Song Yet to Be Sung” from the album of the same name.

The four badasses then reappeared on the giant main stage for a ridiculous “Mountain Song,” an anthem in its own right. The still lame crowd did manage to belt out the lyric “Everyone has their own opinion, holding it tight it hurts so bad…” enough to get Perry’s attention and he in turn treated us to the creeping metal haunt “Ted, Just Admit It” which many remember as a featured song in the Oliver Stone classic Natural Born Killers. With Le Noble and Perkins banging it out with sheer brutality, and junk-stud Navarro taking prisoners with his Marshall stack rage, Farrell unleashed his most brilliant spaz-out of the evening with his peaking refrain “Sex is Violence… Sex is violent” until the band stopped on a dime to mellow out with the song’s somber ending.

They disappointed the crowd with a half hearted tribal drumming encore that was squeezed in just before the eleven o’clock curfew. This was not enough to damper the flooding emotions flowing through so many Jane’s fans who were getting maybe their first, probably their final opportunity to see the band (albeit 3/4ths). Kudos to the band for smartly omitting the cliché “Been Caught Stealing.” An art rock conglomerate that transcends genres, generations, dark drug decay and spiritual rebirth, Jane’s Addiction truly are rock stars and pillars of the psychedelic cooperative.

JamBase Correspondent

[Published on: 10/4/01]