Friday, 22 August 2014

Jane's Addiction - Manchester Apollo - August 21st 2014

In 1988, a flamboyant energy force from Los Angeles named Jane's Addiction released their first studio album that would go on in some part to shape alternative rock music into the 90's. It may not have had the selling power that Nirvana's game-changing Nevermind did some years later, but it helped the band leap towards the mainstream and remains an iconic, cult favourite some twenty odd years on. Three quarters of that line up have made it through break ups, world tours, addictions and follow up albums to bring it to the UK for just two dates this August. The fourth (Bassist Eric Avery) was briefly reunited in the full line up last time they came to these shores but has since departed leaving the spot open once again for replacement Chris Chaney. 
The band as ever revolve around the showmanship of singer Perry Farrell. On occasion, band tensions, technical issues and general rock and roll lifestyles have marred some Jane's shows, but the now mid-fifties frontman is in fine health and struts around the stage like a fighting, prize-winning cockerel, taking the occasional swig from a bottle of wine and genuinely on top of his game. He knows a thing or two about stage presence does Perry Farrell and milks it like the true pro he is. He also has vast musical knowledge and never misses the opportunity to engage with a crowd. Name-checking some of Manchester's finest exports as well as a warm mention to the Hacienda days. The missing Eric Avery was key in the making of this record all those years ago, often providing the simple but hypnotic bass lines to the rest of the band to build these classic songs around. Chaney doesn't quite sling the bass around in the manner Avery did but musically it's all there and he's every part the fully qualified JA member. Tattooed, shirtless guitarist Dave Navarro has riffs and guitar trickery pouring from his heavily inked fingers. If ever there was a lead guitarist that made this rock and roll thing look easy as well as fabulous then he stands before the 02 Apollo tonight. Which leaves Mr percussion, Stephen Perkins. The youngest member of the original line-up at the age of 46 yet his boyish looks take years off that figure. I imagine he'd probably not miss a beat if he did this entire album blindfolded such is his obvious passion for the band and the music they've created over the years.
An album-in-full-show can sometimes be nothing more than a necessary cash cow in a band's later career. For Jane's Addiction and Nothing's Shocking it's no longer about the dollars, but the need to give this masterpiece its own stage and let it out again like an uncaged animal. 'Idiot's Rule', 'Mountain Song' and 'Had A Dad' just three of the album's significant gems inside The Apollo tonight. For sure there have been arguably 'on a par' moments in the years that followed this release. 'Ritual De Lo Habitual' graces the tail end of the performance with a magnificent rendition of the iconic 'Three Days'. Scantily-dressed dancers move playfully around the stage, as this sexually charged album high-point delivers it's unique roller-coaster of a record live once again. 'Just Because' from the third album 'Strays' is warmly received as the band remind us of their back catalogue outside of Nothing's Shocking. Perkins comes to the front of the stage for the signature moment of Nothing's Shocking - 'Jane Says' and for the triple drumming collective on the Indian war dance like of  'Chip Away'. Two more female performing artists swing high over the stage, suspended from hooks through their backs as the band blast through this tribal-like number. 
Before exiting the night, the band and performers take a final bow. It's all been very Jane's Addiction if you get my drift?  Elaborate, flamboyant, sexual, comical and intense.  And you wouldn't want it any other way than that.
Words - Pete Jackson

Photos courtesy of Shirlaine Forrest