Jane’s Addiction Live In London – Porn, Fire, Strippers And A Punk-Rock Masterclass

Jane's Addiction

It’s hard to summarise what makes you love a band. But a soul-gripping part of the magic comes from discovering them as a raw and wide-eyed teenager. When I was 13, way back in 1991, I stumbled across Jane’s Addiction and I’ve been hooked on their other-world-envoking dark art ever since.

Last night the band shook the foundations of London’s Centro club at a majestic, intimate show for just 200-or-so lucky fans. This was a million miles from the shiny chrome expanses of the O2 Arena, where the L.A misfits had just completed two nights with Nine Inch Nails. I’d flown out especially to see them play Bilbao festival last weekend, where Perry Farrell howled at the midnight moon high in the Spanish hills, but this was something else.

In the tiny club fire-breathing strippers writhe on the bar and glide on swings inches above the crowd. Wall-filling porn images are projected behind the band. The bar staff spray their soda guns into the air, soaking the audience who fling themselves around in a sweaty whirlpool of grins and clashing bodies. The music is seismic. Gigs simply don’t come much better. They can’t.

Of course the backdrop to all this only heightens the meaning of it all. The fact that the punk-rock warhorses who formed in the 1980s are still alive after several brain-frying decades of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll is astonishing enough.
But after such an acrimonious and final split in 1991, to be reformed and on tour together in 2009 is a preacher-blanching miracle. A couple of years ago you’d have got better odds on a cat building a rocket and flying to the moon.

To have them back is a crazy privilege.

As we waited for the band I met a guy who had flown back from a holiday in Italy (where, no shit, he’d only just arrived) to queue in the street from noon to get tickets. Jane’s Addiction inspire devotion every bit as strong as the obsessive state they’re named after.

Performed live last night, ‘Mountain Song’, ‘One Percent’, ‘Whores’, ‘Ted, Just Admit It’ and ‘Ain’t No Right’ are soaring, heady rides, infused with voodoo sexuality as snake-hipped bar-dancers thrust balls of fire into the air.

This was a no-rules, whistle-stop party with no place for the tender, reflective beauty of classic tracks such as ‘Three Days’, ‘Jane Says’ and ‘Classic Girl’. The setlist –

‘Up The Beach’
‘Whores’
‘One Percent’
‘Ain’t No Right’
‘Ted, Just Admit It’
‘Mountain Song’
‘Been Caught Stealing’
‘Had A Dad’
‘Summertime Rolls’

Perry Farrell throws himself around the stage as the banshee, fearless-and-funny (“I want everyone to go home and kiss a pussy tonight. Say Perry sent you.”), lithe, skate-punk frontman.
Eric Avery is the man-mountain bass-player, deceptively melodious and emotive in contrast to his rock-solid, one-man-army ‘don’t even think about fucking with me’ stance and laser-eyed, thousand-yard stare.

Dave Navarro’s guitar is whirling, dangerous like an ‘axe’ should be, and as ever, skillful-beyond-human-comprehension. Electricity and showmanship personified, he smiles when a fan throws him a cigarette and plays on with it lit between his lips.

And the ever-smiling drummer – beneath the images of dildos and pouting porn stars Stephen Perkins unrelentingly drives the carnival along with tribal, pounding, skull-juddering percussion.

As an aside, I remember him playing on kitchen pots and pans in the bands’ ‘Something Shocking’ video (a 12-minute long VHS tape as I recall, in which Dave shows off his party trick of stunning his pet eel with a blow to the head) and rushing off to try and do the same 16 years ago. To stand barely 4 metres away and watch him at work as beer flies and crowd-surfer after crowd-surfer crashes overheard is another level.

Tell me to ‘get a room’ if you like, but everyone deserves to suck in a show like this at some point in their short mortal span. Music exists to provide these moments of freedom. If you were there, at any of the shows from the past few weeks, or just want to reminisce about the band’s music and tumultuous career, post comments below…

Seriously, it was amazing.

NB: NME.COM will have a video interview and extensive live footage from the show coming soon. Keep your eyes peeled…