It took the better part of seven years, but Jane’s Addiction, the acclaimed Los Angeles band credited with opening the commercial door for alternative-rock bands such as Pearl Jam and Nirvana, returned to the Universal Amphitheatre for the first of a two-night stand and, in a sweeping and contagious exercise in recent-history nostalgia, performed with a passionate and joyous manner that rendered moot any questions regarding the band’s current motives.
“What’s relevant got to do with it?” could even be band leader Perry Farrell’s mantra; the singer and entrepreneur, beaming large smiles beneath his nest-of-snakes hair braids, was the consummate post-alternative party host, sharing with the sold-out crowd his ample supply of wine, women and, most importantly, song.
Ostensibly touring the U.S. over six weeks to promote the newly released “Kettle Whistle” (Warner Bros.) album — an odds-and-sods collection of live and demo recordings, as well as two unreleased songs and two new songs recorded with substitute bassist Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers — Jane’s played no new or surprise tunes. Instead, the band, which broke up in conflict following the first Lollapalooza tour in 1990, played what’s becomes its regular set on this reunion tour, featuring most all of the fan faves from their two breakthrough albums, 1988’s “Nothing’s Shocking” and ’90’s “Ritual de lo Habitual.”
The stage, in classic Perry Farrell style, was vividly decorated with giant faux tiger lilies and featured a number of elevated small platforms, where band members could climb to play, and to be fondled by the ever-present scantily clad dancers, whose sexually charged interaction with the four players only added more heat to an already cooking party. During the guitar solo in “Stop!,” Farrell gave guitarist Dave Navarro a long, on-the-mouth kiss that almost brought down the house.
Even technical difficulties, which Farrell chalked up to intervention from space aliens, couldn’t spoil the celebratory mood of the evening. During a midshow acoustic set, performed on a small stage in the middle of the amphitheater, Farrell and Navarro (the group’s resident sex symbol) used the free time caused by a malfunctioning amplifier to kiss the kids in front of the stage.