NEW YORK — Jane's Addiction have a lot to live up to. They made their reputation as a genre-busting art-rock band without compromise over a decade ago. They pulled off two semi-reunion tours, riding their legend by performing their classics to legions of the devoted and new fans who wanted to check out what the years of hype was about. So on Wednesday night at Irving Plaza, when the band returned to the stage with a whole album's worth of new material for the first time in 12 years (and yet another bass player), a number of questions came to mind:
The lights go down. Here we go.
Opening with "Stop!," drummer Stephen Perkins and bassist Chaney immediately went into overdrive, taking the already frenetic backbone of the song up several notches from the original. Perry Farrell held nothing back with his opening vocal salvos, and he radiated health and happiness while throwing off almost palpable electricity.
The band promptly dove into material from its upcoming album, Strays, due July 22. Rocking through "True Nature," "Strays" and "Just Because," Farrell was in his element, screaming, begging, joking, seducing and just plain pounding new stories into his audience, as opposed to leading sing-alongs as their last two tours amounted to (brilliant sing-alongs, but still). The band killed, and the audience ate it up, with the mosh pit getting wilder by the minute, except for the quiet bits when everyone shut up and listened. Yes, the new material holds its own.
Particularly on the new tracks, the audience really got an earful of Chaney. Powerful and assertive, Chaney not only returned the band to the slamming four-piece it originally was, but drummer Stephen Perkins and guitarist Dave Navarro were pushed musically by him. Unlike previous reunion tours, there was a lot of eye contact and laughter between the players as the musicianship grew increasingly polyrhythmic. Let's hope the band keeps this guy.
With six of the 11 songs coming from the new album, the freshness of the music seemed to light a fire under Jane's Addiction, and the difference in energy and emotion between this and the previous two tours was obvious. Of course, for Jane's Addiction, a band with a big, overwhelming sound, it's not all that tough to impress the crowd when playing a room that holds under a thousand people, but it seemed clear at this show that the group is set to remake its reputation. After the set, a new fan who came to test the hype said, "To see something that intense in a space so small and contained ... I mean, you go with expectations, but ..." before walking off, too euphoric to continue. There was a lot of grinning at the exits.
- "True Nature"
- "Just Because"
- "Summertime Rolls"
- "Price I Pay"
- "Three Days"
- "Wrong Girl"
- "Ocean Size"
- "The Riches"
- "Jane Says"
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