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Jane's Addiction proves to be intoxicating

Review: Jack Foley

JANE’S Addiction are one of those bands that seem to thrive on being unpredictable - but then what would you expect from an outfit that boasts Perry Farrell as its lead singer?

Having burst onto the music scene in the late Eighties/early Nineties, and been credited with being the first, true, 90s alternative band, they parted company several times throughout that decade, before properly reforming at the beginning of the year and putting out their first studio album for 13 years.

The tour which followed was always going to be a spectacular affair, with fans clamouring to catch them before any further splits, so it was almost a privilege to catch them at the end of the UK leg, at the Hammersmith Apollo on Wednesday, November 12 (2003).

And, from the moment lead guitarist, Dave Navarro, walked onto the stage, flanked by bassist, Eric Avery, and drummer, Stephen Perkins, and played a spellbinding guitar solo while stood on top of a small set of speakers, you had the feeling you were in for something special.

The hour and 15-minute set which followed was crammed with powerful rock-outs, eccentric behaviour and the odd acoustic moment, which served to underline why the band remains one of the biggest in the world.

Each member is a character, vying for the limelight, with Farrell just about taking centre-stage, courtesy of the tight black, all-leather catsuit he was wearing, and his penchant for the bizarre. Resembling, at times, an effeminate ballerina, or a super-charged fly, Farrell delivered each song with almost unbridled enthusiasm, clearly in love with the occasion, the fans, and anyone who will honour him.

On one occasion, he thanked the women in the crowd for turning out in such droves, and urged the men to do the same, claiming the credit for being able to assemble so many ‘pretty girls’ in one place. On another, he slipped in among them, quickly offering kisses to those fortunate enough to receive them.

And then there was the drinking (a bottle of JD was used as a prop, more than anything), and the wilder extravagances - most of them sexual in nature.

There were times when your eyes didn’t know where to look, for vying with Farrell for an equal spot in the limelight were the majestic Navarro, and the lively Perkins. Both are musicians of the highest calibre, and both revel in their own ability, providing several scintillating solos for the benefit of the crowd.

Navarro, in particular (who temporarily hooked up with the Red Hot Chili Peppers during Jane’s time out), is a mystical presence, appearing bare-chested from the start, and sporting nipple rings and a wide range of tattoos, which represent the ultimate ‘rock’ image.

His guitar work, however, is exemplary; even mesmerising. Whether providing the fierce drive of Jane’s Addictions rockier moments, such as Ocean Size and Been Caught Stealing, or making things more mellow, as in the surprise acoustic version of former single, Just Because, he bears all the hallmarks of one of modern music’s mystic greats. A living guitar legend, if you will.

From the moment it began, to the closing strains of Jane Says, this was a magical evening; a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity which couldn’t fail to impress. Jane’s Addiction is compulsive, and the highlights, of which there were many, included that acoustic rendition of Just Because, and their crowd-pleasing medley of Born on the Bayou, mixed with Wild Thing, which eventually gave way into previous single, True Nature, with its scintillating mix of drum loops and slide guitar.

The promise of a return visit by Farrell, Navarro and co next Summer is something we would urge you not to miss…

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