With The Duke Spirit
Fillmore Miami Beach
Friday, May 18, 2012
Better Than: Remembering that Ritual de lo Habitual came out in 1990.
Jane's Addiction doesn't so much play a concert as put on a party. For frontman Perry Farrell, who spent his teen years just a few surf breaks up from the Fillmore Miami Beach, Friday night's show was a homecoming blowout.
"People tell bands that it's not a good idea to come to Miami," he told the crowd. "Well, they're fucking liars."
The party began long before the show did, with a scaled down version of the carnival that used to accompany the traveling version of Lollapalooza. On-site tattoo artists helped make the freaks and weirdos freakier and weirder. A magician did tricks while muttering things that even made the ladies in leather pants blush.
Even before the lights went down, the crowd was already cheering. A curtain dropped, showing off two extremely large wooden carvings of naked women. And the audience howled. Later, during the show, when strobes hit the statues from different angles, the women would appear to dance like the tattoos on a sailor's forearm when he flexes his fist.
The band squeezed a huge sound out of just three instruments and vocals -- in no small part due to the virtuosity of guitarist Dave Navarro and drummer Stephen Perkins. Close your eyes and you would've sworn that there were two guitarists and two drummers. But open them and you would've seen just one of each.
As for Farrell, this is what 53 looks like? He did jump kicks from the drum riser, performed spins in his unbuttoned waistcoat, and lunged all night like a cobra. Not to mention, his wail was just as fine as ever.
Perry also seemed ecstatic to be back home in Miami, bounding around the stage with a bottle of red wine in hand and peppering the show with memories of Miami.
"When I was a young man growing up in North Miami Beach," he said, "I fell in with a bad crowd. They surfed, they got high, and being the young one hanging out with older guys, they made me break into some houses. I do apologize if I took your television."
Farrell told stories of sneaking into concerts by climbing up drainpipes and climbing in through open windows, of getting together with old friends earlier in the day to reminisce about driving to Tampa to see Led Zeppelin.
He thanked our city for teaching him how to get high. Then, after accepting a joint from an audience member, a slow pillar of smoke rose from Farrell's upturned mouth. The higher it stretched, the louder the cheers.
Of the fifteen songs played, only three came from the new Jane's Addiction album, The Great Escape Artist. And with the exception of the band's late classic single from 2003, "Just Because," everything else played at the Fillmore came from its original three-album run.
Not that anyone complained. Even honeymooning couples stepping out of the cab at a Sandals resort don't get this excited about steel drums, in this case signifying the imminence of "Jane Says."
As though to temper the downshift in rockage, the steel drums were brought out along with a large taxidermied bear in attack position. But the bear was just one of a cavalcade of strange characters, including a brutalized robotic nanny pushing a pram and a spindly slam-dancing rooster.
Two dancers in bondage gear, one of whom is Farrell's wife, swung from swings and whipped each other astride a bench throughout the evening. Screens showed glitchy video loops of vintage sex and drug films.
Twice, videos played while the band left the stage. Why? Perhaps to give Dave Navarro time to do some super squats, tear the cellophane off a new pack of cigarettes, and pop into the Exxxotica 2012 expo at the Miami Beach Convention Center next door. A mystery, for sure.
Oh, and Jane's Addiction is a band that is staunchly anti-shirt. Farrell made a brave showing of at least keeping his waistcoat on for a few songs before going topless. It's possible, however, that Navarro suffers from a condition that makes non-leather clothing dissolve upon contact with his skin. (Stay strong, David!) Even the band's lighting tech went bare (and headbanged harder than just about anyone in the theater).
But while Jane's Addiction may be anti-shirt, they're sure as hell pro-fun.
Personal Bias: Though others disagree, we've always felt that it has been wearing shirts in public that has held us back from worldwide acclaim.
Perry Farrell, Storyteller:
"They said, 'You coming with us?'
"I said, 'Where you going?'
"'Fucking get in the car.'
"I was doing pretty well until I got caught stealing."
In the crowd: A man in whiteface, a handlebar mustache, and a mortician's suit leading a chain gang of shackled young women to the bar.
Opening Band: For more on the opening band, The Duke Spirit, stay tuned for a separate account of their 36 hours in Miami.
Jane's Addiction's Setlist:
-"Been Caught Stealing"
-"Ain't No Right"
-"Ted, Just Admit It..."
-"Up the Beach"
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-"End to the Lies"