One of the few still-relevant groups from the alternative-rock renaissance of the 1990s, Jane's Addiction, roared into town last week and crammed an arena-size show into this genteel theater.
The band, which began in the 1980s, arrived to the strains of Pink Floyd's "Welcome to the Machine," and they immediately walloped the audience with the power of a super-charged earthmover. During the 80-minute set, Jane's played songs from each of their studio albums (including a couple from last year's The Great Escape Artist), although the concert was top-heavy with numbers at least 20 years old—"Ocean Size," "Mountain Song," "Jane Says" and "Been Caught Stealing" among them.
In attendance were three of the original members, looking younger than they have a right to, as well as bassist Chris Chaney, who has played on and off with the band for a decade. Singer Perry Farrell was a genial host, dancing in his familiar arrhythmic, psycho-marionette fashion and cranking his inimitable whine up to air-raid-siren volumes. Guitarist Dave Navarro—despite his well-publicized forays into reality TV and porn-directing—proved why he should be considered a quasi-pioneer for melding metal, alt-rock and psychedelic styles. Drummer Stephen Perkins remains the band's secret weapon, thanks to his ferocious tribal drumming and steel-drum-playing.
Jane's Addiction treated its fans to a visual assault as well, with multiple, large video monitors blasting old movies, propaganda and vintage stag films. They opened the show with "Underground," with two sexy female backup singers perched high above the band on trapezes, wearing long white skirts that almost reached the stage. The pair returned for "Ted, Just Admit It," from the album Nothing's Shocking, and performed a choreographed S&M couch dance that seemed like a PG-13 reinterpretation of that album's controversial cover.
The London band the Duke Spirit was a pleasant surprise in the opening slot. Fronted by authoritative lead singer Liela Moss—long legs, blond mane, gregarious charm—the band played about 30 minutes of punchy psychedelic-blues. Their set would've appealed to fans of the Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, and The Cult.