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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Jane's Addiction played the Tabernacle on March 13

Perry Farrell and Dave Navarro of Janes Addiction

See a gallery of photos from the Jane’s Addiction show at the Tabernacle on March 13.

Sometimes the right thing happens at the right time, something that could only happen during a specific flash in time. For Jane’s Addiction, that time came and went sometime between 1989 and ’91. It was a nebulous era — the ’80s had shifted gears into the ’90s, and the climate of underground music was in a ragtag state that, in retrospect, embodied all of the logic and structure of a Jackson Pollock painting. In the midst of it all there was Jane’s Addiction, a group from Los Angeles fronted by Perry Farrell, a dread-headed frontman that seemed to bear the resemblance of a lovechild spawned by Boy George and Ronald McDonald. He looked good, and not only that, Jane's Addiction truly offered an alternative to the music that surrounded it. At the time, both punk rock and heavy metal had reached a point of maximum entropy, and along come Farrell (vocals), Dave Navarro (guitar), Stephen Perkins (drums), and Eric Avery (bass) to shake up the lunkhead complacency of the MTV generation with a gypsy whiplash sound that was too cool and stylish for "Headbangers Ball," and so wide-eyed and … well feral that it redefined the pseudo-intellectual tooth and claw of coffee house punk and the counter culture the ’90s. On stage at the Tabernacle on Tuesday night, more than two decades after the arguable peak of commercial and artistic success that came with Ritual de lo Habitual, the fourth dimension that Jane's Addiction once occupied has been buried by the sands of time.

That’s not to say that it wasn’t a solid and energetic show with a killer stage set and beautiful ladies swinging from the rafters between bouts of mock S&M play. Farrell had more of a Hy Pro glow than ever before, bass player Chris Chaney handles Avery’s parts well enough, and the group gave a pretty spot-on performance. But it's easy to forget just how strong of a cultural force this group was in the early ’90s. The rock ’n' roll cabaret show that passes for Jane’s Addiction now is a pale shadow of its earlier self. ... And OK, the group has a "get out of jail free" card to a certain extent. It rides the fence of not falling into a lounge act, while having earned the rights to rest on its laurels, despite the cultural crimes committed in Jane's Addiction's wake — 90 percent of Porno for Pyros and pretty much all Farrell’s solo output, along with Navarro’s beard(s), and not to mention the whole Carmen Electra thing.

Bur really, all of this would be a moot point if the group would just come back to the fold with a really kick-ass album that did its legacy justice. The post-Ritual de lo Habitual numbers they played Tuesday night, such as “Underground,” “Just Because,” and “Twisted Tales,” have zero personality and zero staying power, especially when stacked against “Mountain Song,” “Ain’t No Right,” and “Ted, Just Admit It...” Seeing the latter three numbers played live made the trek downtown all worthwhile.

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