show review

Jane's Addiction @ House of Blues Cleveland 5/21/2015

(Sanchez/2015)
Lisa Sanchez
​I didn't grow up in the era where Jane's Addiction ruled the alternative rock scene with their medley of diverse sounds and delivery. But, during their performance at the House of Blues on May 21, I felt like I got a small glimpse at the appeal and skill the band had back in the day as well as the drawing power and charisma they still possess in 2015. Jane's Addiction performed Nothing's Shocking in its entirety and the whole performance was a combination of a high-flying circus show and a 1980's music video.
           
The band's entrance to "Up the Beach" seemed very appropriate to build Jane's Addiction's momentum and suspense for the show with the song's slow, moody introduction. When Perry Farrell began his dream-like, smooth vocals for "Up the Beach" I was impressed how he could still hit the strikingly falsetto notes and sound exactly as he did on Nothing's Shocking, an album that has already passed its 25-year anniversary.
           
Throughout their performance, Jane's Addiction had the practiced air of a band that has been around for almost three decades and they knew how to put on a good show. Without missing a beat, Perry Farrell interacted with the Cleveland crowd while simultaneously introducing the next song. The singer affectionately commented "I hope you win, man" referring to the Cleveland Cavaliers success in the Eastern Conference Finals and then teased that Lebron James was going to go to Miami Beach before launching directly into "Ocean Size."
           
The stage show was unlike anything I had ever seen before. I've gone to see bands with high-quality, big-budget productions, but often those bands still remain untouchable and are often rendered unreal either by the size of the venue or the disconnected attitude the band members themselves. Jane's Addiction faced none of these impediments in their performance. The House of Blues offered an appropriately large and furnished stage for a band of Jane's Addiction's caliber, but also offered an intimate element that allowed the band to truly see their fans and interact with them to make the experience really come to life.
           
Farrell made a comment to the audience if they were enjoying the "80's smoke" which billowed out and obscured the members intermittently throughout their set. Although the effect did add ambiance and most likely did harken back to an older style of performance it also seemed distracting and a bit unnecessary. The band clearly put a lot of thought into their performance, so to have it blurred seemed a bit odd. Also, the smoke often appeared during Dave Navarro guitar solos, which only enforces my belief that Navarro is actually a magician.
           
Jane's Addiction's interaction element really came to life during "Standing in the Shower Thinking" when Farrell extended the microphone to the crowd and took it a step farther when he jumped in front of the barricade and performed nearly all of "Idiots Rule" to eager fans trying to caress him. There aren't many musicians who would put themselves within city blocks of their most ravenous fans, let alone allow the unwashed masses to embrace them while performing. But, Farrell's openness during Jane's Addiction was refreshing and sets the vocalist apart from some of his contemporaries.
           
While the entire Nothing's Shocking performance was highly enjoyable, the overwhelming crescendo arrived during the last part of the band's performance with, "Jane Says," "Been Caught Stealing," and "Stop!" Jane's Addiction spared no resource when it came to performing "Jane Says," arguably one of the band's most popular and well-known songs. Drummer Stephen Perkins played an entire steel drum set like a pro without missing a beat. Navarro and bassist Chris Chaney were positioned on Victorian-style clawed chairs during their sit-down performance, further demonstrating the deliberate aesthetic Jane's Addiction cultivated on stage. Although Chaney had used one of the chairs during "Summertime Rolls", "Jane Says" really came alive watching all of the band members happily jam to a song they've played innumerable times.
​"Been Caught Stealing," while not on Nothing's Shocking like the rest of the songs performed at the House of Blues that night, acted as fan service for the crowd and a chance for Jane's Addiction to have a little fun. Two cabaret dancers in lingerie were present in the background during the song and eventually took center stage to entice the audience and interact with the band. Initially I didn't understand the reason for the scantily clad ladies, other than to further enthrall an already fervent audience, but when the band prepared for their final song in "Stop!" the motivations became clear.
           
Two different women were suspended from the skin of their shoulder blades onto steel hooks and were hoisted into the air from the House of Blues light rigging. These ladies proceeded to sway, kick, and dance mid-air as Jane's Addiction performed "Stop!" their final song for the evening. You have to give the band points for originality because I can't think of any band in a decade's worth of concerts that has even come close to the spectacle. The women appeared to be having a great time and they were absolutely breath-taking to behold. Both in the way they moved fearlessly and the way the light fixtures and suspended amps threatened to sway and kill us all. But, what's a rock concert without a little danger?
           
By the end of the performance the band, dancers, and suspended ladies all took a theatrical bow and happily walked off stage. Overall, Jane's Addiction proved they can still make new fans with songs that are older than 2015 college graduates. They still play to the crowd and offer once-in-a-lifetime carnivals of musicianship. The band will be performing at festivals and concerts throughout the summer including the LC Pavilion in Columbus, OH on July 7. Don't miss an opportunity to see these alternative rock forefathers bring the party from the 1980s to the present with a single performance.