Jane's Addiction

by Todd McFliker

“How many of you guys out there wish there were more bands like Jane’s Addiction?” asked Live’s front man Ed Kowalczyk before Jane’s claimed their stage for Toronto’s “Jubilee Tour”. In a time after the Zeppelin landed, and before Nirvana happened, the Los Angeles quartet, Jane’s Addiction emerged. The band’s mas influencia has reached a global scale due to two groundbreaking albums. At the same time, Jane’s has always delivered unparalleled live performances. Each musician is one of the best in the world at the instrument he plays, performing almost an identical set-list of a decade old material with in-your-face lyrics about the earth, love, sex and violence. Jane’s Addiction has always celebrated an amazingly powerful experience onstage, while serving as rock and roll’s most poignant humanitarians.

In 1986, a surfer named Perry Bernstein, the son of a Jewish jeweler from Queens moved to the city of angels. When longhaired dorks like Bon Jovi and Poison, Perry borrowed his big brother’s name, Farrell, and joined bass player Eric Avery, guitarist Dave Navarro, and percussionist Stephen Perkins to make up Jane’s Addiction. Camera’s got those images of Avery and Farrell in multicolored biker shorts and long red hair from the late 80s. Influenced by Zepellin, Floyd and Hendrix, Jane’s Addiction’s live performances were fresh, and not yet wealthy rock stars, Jane’s Addiction played with nothing but intensity and wild stage props, such as blowing fire onstage. Meanwhile Perry’s real-life lyrics about love, life, violence and politics served as a voice of my generation.

At the turn of the decade, Jane’s reached planetary fame until the release of the “Been Caught Stealin” video, and opted not to continue on MTV’s mainstream game. Instead, Jane’s, Ice T and Body Count headed up the original Lollapalooza, where Perry preached about balancing out the world. Originally slated as Jane’s Addition’s farewell tour, Lollapalooza became one of the most influential concerts in history, and paved the way for Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, The Beastie Boys and Nine Inch Nails headlining future festivals. Lollapalooza also set the template for the lucrative multi-band festivals of the '90s to follow, including Lilith Fair, Ozzfest and H.O.R.D.E. On the “Ritual” tour in the early 90s, Jane’s played out a life-changing concert in Miami’s Bayfront Park. With Suicidal Tendencies opening, “the pure energy on stage was omnipresent.” In high school at the time, Chris Cimaglia, a 25-year-old music engineer from Miami explained the “Ritual” concert experience was the “best decision of his life”. Unfortunately, Jane’s Addiction left the music scene while they were still on top to pursue other ventures.

The band never officially split, but each member of Jane’s Addiction had gone onto separate projects. While Avery dropped out of the public’s eye, Navarro joined the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Perkins played drums Methods of Mayhem and Munk With a Gun. Perry the visionary made a short film called “The Gift”, and joined Perkins in another band, Porno for Pyros.

Jane’s Addiction revived in 1997 to bless the continent with their “Relapse Tour,” and again put on an unimaginable show in Miami’s Bayfront Park complete with flexible dancers and other eye pleasing spectacles. Adamantly anti-nostalgia, Eric Avery declined joining the reunions. Rather, the just as powerful Flea, from the Chili Peppers, filled the void. The new Jane’s released “Kettle Whistle”, a CD of Jane’s archives, mixed with new material, such as “So What” and “Slow Divers”. After “Relapse”, all four musicians returned to their previous outfits; Chili Peppers, Mayhem and Porno.

Showing off a new musical outlet, Perry’s solo CD was in the works, and he hit small clubs including Boca Raton’s Radius, on a trek across the continent spinning records, techno-style in the summer of 2000. In the intimate setting, the deep lyrics associated with Jane’s were pushed aside, as Perry danced with his fingers. Almost operatic, they were wild, fantasizing. The beauty of his movement was a sensation not unlike bliss.

In April of this year, Jane’s successfully returned to their habitual rituals in the misty college bowl of Santa Barbara, marking the band’s first performance together in over three years. Again, Eric Avery wanted no part of the reunion, and Flea has been working on a new album with the Chili Peppers. Keeping it in the family, Porno for Pyro’s Martyn LeNoble, filled in on the bass. The band was also augmented by keyboardist Linda Good, of the former Chicago duo Twigs. Needless to say, every member of Jane’s was completely thrilled to be onstage together again. At the show, Perry dressed like a matador in an off-yellow one-piece bull-fighting outfit. Under a sloppy military buzz haircut, he danced with masked phantoms and stripping nymphs, while two clowns on stilts stumbled around elaborate stage designs. There was a glowing vibe of happiness from Jane’s coming together onstage to create magic again. The entire crowd laughed and raised their hands into the air as the four shared a joint tossed up by someone in the audience. The drummer, behind a couple of steel Puerto Rican drums and under a mohawk, took his time enjoying the gift. To the audience’s surprise, Flea appeared before the moshing started with “Been Caught Stealin.” Every song played was from “Nothing’s Shocking” or “Ritual”, as the crowd was denied Kettle Whistle’s “Slow Divers” or “So What” and classic Stone’s covers “Sympathy” or “Rock and Roll”.

Spreading the message of free expression via art, Jane’s performed together a second time this year for the third Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on April 28th,. The massive outdoor fest that catered to all audiences in a crowd of about 35 thousand sat on one flat acre, hidden between the hazy highlands of Indio, three hours east of the Los Angeles. The Woodstock-like show was modeled after Perry’s Lollapalooza which ran for seven years. DJ Peretz joined Tool performing at the first Coachella in 1999, and Weezer joined the festivities at this year’s Coachella. This year’s Coachella consisted of an extraordinarily glowing vibe, both onstage and in the crowd. Perkins explained that when everybody in Jane’s is in a good mood onstage, it’s just like lighting a firecracker. Similarly, Farrell told a web-site, NME.COM, “It was sensational. It was too short. I want to do more.”

The radiant mastermind got his wish, but not before more solo work for Jane’s Addiction. Navarro released a solo CD, Trust No One, featuring the song “Hungry”, while Perkins kept himself busy with his latest band, Banyan. Perry’s DJ release, Song Yet to be Sung, originally titled The Diamond Jubilee, hit the streets after teasing fans for over four year. Opinions vary on Jane’s’ front man mixing rock vocals with electrica. Unlike his solo CD, Perry denied his audience any lyrics when he spun at the grand opening of Miami Beach’s Billboardlive. Everybody has their own opinion of DJ Peretz’s skills behind a couple of turntables. Most just wanted to see the legendary Farrell up close. Pulling 12-inch singles from a milk crate behind his two turntables, Perry tweaked the knobs on his mixer, amplified beats, and sliced out sonic ranges, laying down jungle beats with trippy affects. As Perry spun, audience members got a close up of the tattoo on his right arm. It is a 7-inch a mosquito. I wonder if it’s one of the same mosquitoes that are addressed in “Ritual’s” introduction letter. Perry spun immediately following the Jane’s show in several cities, including St. Paul, Charlotte and Gainesville. Unfortunately for the true ravers across the continent, there were no sounds that Perry could create with his turntables that could overshadow the radiant mastermind’s raw power on a stage. Nothing’s shocking about that. DJ Peretz spun in New York, Pittsburgh and Dallas before he embarked upon another mission with Jane’s.

Addicted to playing together, the two Jane’s reunions in California blossomed into "Jubilee 2001" a few months later. The name for the tour is derived from the biblical Jubilee, a 50-year cycle in which debts are forgiven and slaves are freed. The Jubilee theme has been carried out for thousands of years across various cultures and faiths, while it carries a message of peace and redemption through music. In fact, the band is planning to post a video of the tour documentary on the Jubilee Freedom Foundation web-site. “We are lucky to be living during this Jubilee year,” Farrell stated in a press release. “This is a 50 year cycle that peaks with mad conscience to be free and to free others along the way.” Jane’s mission has been to save children from sex trafficking and slavery, in order to reunite them with their families. Meanwhile, Perry has recently been marked for death by Islamic extremists for his public campaign against slavery in Sudan.

American flags were waved throughout the massive arenas on the “Jubilee Tour”. The shows in Canada were filled by a young preppy crowd in their twenties. Dressed for a fraternity function, there were neither drugs, nor fights apparent at any of the shows in the great white north. The floor was general admission in some venues found in Canada as well as The States. The American dressed more grunged out. The crowd of 20 to 35 year-olds also sported plenty of leather and tattoos. True, the “Jubilee Tour” was less intimate that past road trips. But if there were 20,000 people who wanted to see Jane’s Addiction in the city, and they picked a small venue, then 18,ooo fans would have denied the experience.

The band Live opened with lead-singer Ed Kowalczyk approaching the stage alone and kicked into an acoustic version of “Lightning Crashes.” Following “I Alone”, Ed showed off his voice with Lennon’s “Imagine”. Guitarist Chad Taylor explained that John's son, Sean, toured with Live earlier this year, and claimed to be overjoyed that they were covering "Imagine." "Sean said the crowd would totally crucify him if he ever tried," Chad explained to me after a set. Midway through the set in Toronto, Ed explained how much of an honor it is to be opening for Jane’s Addiction on this tour, and admitted to personally owning two or three copies of “Ritual”. Unfortunately, Florida was denied an appearance from Live the next week, as Nigerian artist Femi Kuti and a DJ named Logic opened For “Jubilee” in most cities, including Gainesville on October 9.

Jane entered their stage with the lights off. The arena illuminated an array of eye candy; lustful dancers and juggling gymnastic grace in a strip-club atmosphere. It was a visual feast of Christmas lights, lasers and dancers arranged on stage, with a hand-painted backdrop of white and black bricks. Navarro dressed in his customary black leather pants and a nipple-ring, and Le Noble wore a white wife-beater. Still sporting a mohawk, Perkins was the only one who dressed differently each night. In Gainesville, the under-appreciated artist wore a Clash T-shirt. Perry emerged in a parachute dress that that stretched 6-feet around. Suddenly, Perry was picked up four feet from the ground. While thousands pondered the man’s elevation, Perry’s gown dropped and displayed five erotic dancers, almost naked, emerging from under the garment to dance erotically. The maidens’ bikini underwear didn’t left little to the imagination. In Detroit, there was a male dancer onstage who spotted the damsels with their acrobatics.

The sounds of “Up The Beach” kicked off as Le Noble started pounding out the opening bass line. The first song led strait into “Ocean Size”. Always making a grand entrance, Perry emerged chugging from a bottle of whiskey. He put on a red cowboy hat, a black scarf and a vest over his healthy six-pack. The man never stopped dancing. Neither did the luscious dancers on a few satellite stages, sporting mere bandages over their nipples. There was no talking and all action onstage as Jane’s jumped strait into “Ain't No Right”. Farrell's voice was trumpet-like as he sang “I am skin and bones, I am pointy nose.” He swung the mic stand around in circles and flung it backstage. Circus-like, one dancer spun from a circular platform 9-feet from the ground with her legs spread. A second woman joins in, and they both spun upside-down. Kids on the floor moshed and security swiftly yanked away the crowd surfers. The number concluded with Perry repeating the phrase into the mic, “Mother fuckin’ took that pain…” In a 10-minute version of “Three Days”, Mr. Farrell sang about “Xiola”, an influential mistress that always took her party to the limit. Perry also wrote about Xiola with his pre-Jane’s band, Phi Com. After all, every Jane’s lyric as based on a life experience. The ladies onstage kept themselves entertained by grinding up to Le Noble and Navarro, who smoked from a cigarette kept at the top of his 6-string. Perry played some sambas, while Perkins thundered out four-limbed drumming, with a 2-foot doll of the Muppets’ ‘Animal’ hanging from his set. Giant cannons shot confetti onto the floor and lights strobed during “Stop”. The versatile Perry shook maracas up to Navarro and Le Noble who both stood with one leg propped on a speaker, as the herd underneath the band slammed into each other. In Gainesville, five video monitors displayed the lyrics to the number’s slow part. The crowd sang along with Perry, along the TVs. During the slow intro of Summertime Rolls, two of the dancers rose up and down on an enormous seesaw. Moments later, audiences heard an exotic mixture of brutal power and sensuality in the number. In Toronto, Perry questioned his audience, “Are you ready for a change? Are ready for the change?”

Following a minimal stage-break, the four boys fled to a satellite stage in the rear of the floor. Perkins, who played the set with steel Puerto Rican drums, claimed to love getting out there and actually taste what’s going on. The intimate setting was reminiscent of the first two reunions over the summer, where the boys were all smiles, and shared joints tossed up to the B-stage from the crowd. Thousands of fans were on there feet. Couples swayed together and kissed during an acoustic version of “Jane Says”. The three original band members have a friend named Jane. She’s alive and kicking. The way Jane lives, addicted to living, and inspires the musicians’ concepts. Perry shared his first conversation with the crowd and saluted the audience members who study a lot in the tour’s college towns. He dedicated the next number to “all of you beautiful ladies,” and sang “Classic Girl”. Wearing a stuffed beaver cap on his head, Perry shared his views on “a classic girl. She gives her man great ideas.” Next, Perry sang one of his recent solo numbers about the joys of life, “Happy Birthday Jubilee”. One spectator lept up on the acoustic stage and accidentally slipped, knocking into Perkins’ drums. Perry was startled at first, but the two danced onstage together until security hauled him off moments later. Orange spotlights shined on a few of the dancers, each wearing a 3-foot long hair-pieces colored red, and getting off on her own satellite stage in the crowd. One vixen is a luscious oriental, who doesn’t deserve to be Perry’s real-life girlfriend after she refused to take a picture of Perry and I at Billboardlive last month. Perry dropped to his knees singing, and found himself flat on his back by the number’s conclusion. “We are psyched to be here with you beautiful girls, handsome men, and good parties we’ll remember all our lives,” explained Perry in Toronto. “You are a big puddle of love to us.” Making the Toronto show stand out, Perry asked Dave if he’d serenade the ladies with his beautiful and largely unsung voice. “I sure will,” replied Navarro, who obliged with the melodic “Hungry”.

While trekking back the main stage, Perkins chanted for the masses to stand up and cheer. Perry changed into a silver sequence suit and purple hat, when he sang “Mountain Song”. Now chugging a bottle of wine, Perry never stopped dancing around the stage, quite the opposite of the energy-lacking solo gig in Miami’s Billboardlive last month. The crowd surfed during “Been Caught Stealin’,” and many spectators hoped for Flea to make another surprise appearance, as he did twice during the song earlier this year in LA. But there was no such luck on “Jubilee”. In “Ted, Just Admit It”, Perry hopped up to the circular platform and never quit singing about “Sex is violent”, even after he was thrown off to the floor. In New York City, Perry sported a bright red tux while he replaced the word ‘violence’ with ‘terrorism’. “What a great country, America. If they only knew what they’re trying to fuck up,” he expressed. A giant glow monster with a whip hobbled around, while green lasers shot from above Navarro, Le Noble and Perkins each banging his own giant drum in the night’s concluding song, “Chip Away”. Perry obviously felt comfortable with his audience, shuffling around the stage in a pair of tighty whities as all three of his bandmates banged his own stand-up drum. Of course, Perkins hands moved too fast on his congas for the naked eye to catch. He signaled for us all to cheer louder, and we obeyed. Some fool in the front row screamed “You fuckin’ rock Stephen.” The drummer smiled and winked at him. In the windy city, Perkins kept yelling, "Don't sell out Chicago!" “You are awesome, I love you,” Perry announced before he exited the stage chanting “Earth. Earth. Mother Earth.”

Despite the sheer energy on stage, fans still had a few complains. “Jubilee” was no more than 90 minutes long. “That was too damn short,” explained Mathew Cshoka, a business professional from New York. Others could see that Jane’s didn’t play every night loving each other, or with the same excitement as the glow found in this the two reunions this summer outside of LA. Nor did Jane’s have the rage or energy of '91’s gig. There was less talk than past Jane’s experiences. There was also a shortage of new material. “I would love to hear new Jane’s Addiction songs. The world could use them, and so could I” said Le Noble on an AOL chat. At the same time, thousands of fans were denied favorites “Then She Did” or “Sympathy”. Yet, the show was golden just the same. Some fans were soar to hear the same set-list each night. Mid-way through the “Jubilee Tour”, Perkins said that Jane’s loves playing the songs that they’ve written and they ‘re merely having an exceptional time on tour. Yet, the crowd was really weak in comparison to past Jane’s gigs in Miami, where some of the most spectacular shows of their career have been in Bayfront Park. So why would they choose the college-town in the middle of the state? True fans are part of an older generation, as most of us are part of an older generation that was in grade school when “Ritual” happened. “Jubilee” will cross the States and wrap things up on November 11 in Vegas.

Jane’s fans are still talking about the astounding show in Madison Square Garden, saying it was one of the most emotional, festive and best shows the band has ever played. Despite Perkins saying ‘maybe it should be left at that’, it appears that the “Jubilee Tour” will not end in Vegas. According to Perry, they are planning to sell out three more shows in New York City later this year. But in the last few years, Jane's Addiction members have put out a few underachieving solo projects and tours. Despite being well received, the gigs were essentially exercises in nostalgia, exactly the sort of impulse that both Jane’s and Lollapalooza were brought about to destroy. Yet for Jane’s Addiction, as well as the hundreds of thousands of lives they’ve touched, life was full of pleasure on 2001’s “Jubilee Tour”. These have been the days to see Jane’s, such a classic show where playing a decade old material still retained the passion and the energy from years earlier. Thank you boys for hitting the road again as undoubtedly one of the best shows of the year. South Florida is looking forward to Navarro’s West Palm Beach appearance on December 1.

After the Jane’s show in the swamp, DJ Peretz spun a set at a small club called Simons. Always the fun guy, Perry was on a natural high as an intimate room full of college kids danced for an hour. After sharing the pictures of my time chasing the rock icon, Perry explained to me that he loves his fans, and “life is a mirror. What you put out is what you receive, and what you are looking at is what you are.”