Jane’s Addiction at the Palace, Feb 24, 2010

9 out of 10: Awesomeness

Just as their first studio release began, so does their performance tonight at the Palace. The popping bassline and expansive drums on Up the Beach give Dave Navarro room to launch lead runs when not pummelling a power chord, while lights shine bright on Perry Farrell each time he launches his banshee wails standing majestically tall front and centre on a foldback speaker, champagne bottle in hand.

Jane’s Addiction’s heyday was over twenty years ago now, yet the band still look and feel the part of hungry rock stars on the make, Farrell and Navarro cut like men of tenderer years. And like another ageless, oft-topless frontman whose influence spans decades, Perry Farrell is overflowing with energy, limbs flailing uncontrollably, the very picture of an adult ADD sufferer. No one listens solely with their ears, and the sight of such gleeful, unhinged movement makes everything seem louder, more penetrating, as if the amps really do go all the way up to eleven.

Although they were one of the first alternative bands to make it big, the scantily-clad women gyrating provocatively on stage, the light show and the overdriven yet clean guitar tone are quintessentially LA hair metal, the sound and approach of the scene Jane’s Addiction grew out of back in the eighties. The differences, though, are sharp: whereas a band such as Mötley Crüe might write a derogatory  throwaway ditty that aims at the gonads after a particularly wonderful polyamorous sexual experience, Jane’s Addiction write Three Days, an eleven-minute psychedelic-metal epic of multiple movements that exalts the multiple women involved in the dalliance and aims to recreate the wonder of what transpired sonically. Live, dancers gyrating provocatively either side of Farrell, the drums pounding, the bass pumping, the lead wailing, one feels like one has indeed learned exactly what transpired and that eleven minutes never passed so quickly.

And that’s generally what’s most surprising about the gig: their grander epics, Three Days, Summertime Rolls, Ocean Size and Ted, Just Admit It are the most memorable, and their metallic, psychedelic, funkadelic sound spaced out into longer passages becomes almost transcendental. At such heights, Jane’s Addiction are peerless, no contemporary rock outfit ambitious enough to come close. This renders Jane Says and Been Caught Stealing — both spectacular in their own right — as mono-dimensional singalong crowd-pleasers in comparison, a curious result that speaks volumes of just how good they were.

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