As we climbed into the car The MND looked at me and yelled, “You’re deaf, your joints hurt and you’re soaked to the bone. Was it worth it?”
My answer was, “Fuck yeah!”
We had just come from standing in the parking lot of a local brew pub for almost five hours in pouring rain to watch Perry Farrell, Dave Navarro, Chris Chaney and Stephen Perkins build a time machine of sound to take us back to 1995. That was the plan at least. This was the last concert on the Jane’s Addiction’s tour and I’m sure playing on some dinky stage next to a pizza place/brew pub in Alaska during torrential rain storms wasn’t exactly how they wanted to spend the night. They are pros though, and the show must go on after all. Then they saw this bunch of crazy, cheering, soaked, totally happy to see them, odd people jammed into the roped off area looking up at them and it took over the band.
Standing directly in front of the speakers without hearing protection is a young fool’s game but sometimes I forget myself. The MND and I planted ourselves on the barricade and didn’t move for the entire concert. When I felt the ground vibrating under my feet as the opening band hit the first note I knew I’d made a bad decision. But it was when I realized that I didn’t notice it anymore that I knew I’d reached that point of no return like when you get frostbite, just leave it frozen until you got home. The opening band were local folks called Modern Savage with Jenni May on vocals, John Cripps on guitar, with Matt Eley playing synth, Ivan Molesky on bass and David Devlin beating drums. I’m not sure if Perry and company were just hoping the rain would break or they were being nice but they let Modern Savage play what amounted to a full show instead of the usual six or seven songs that an opening band usually gets to do. I have to say they were at the top of their game with Jenni bringing a fine combination of Shirley Manson and Chrissy Amphlett.
After much delay, Perry walked out and stared at us with some amusement. I’m sure he’s seen plenty of soaking wet concert goers in his time but as a crowd we wanted the band to know that it really mattered to us that Jane’s Addiction had finally come to Alaska. He had bailed on us once before (I still remember trudging back to the Sullivan Arena to get my money back) and it was important that he knew it was the right decision this time. He cocked his head and launched into Up the Beach from Nothing Shocking. In fact, they pretty much did Nothing Shocking straight through and wrapped it up with Been Caught Stealing, Three Days and Stop! from Ritual de lo Habitual. I was a little surprised they didn’t do anything from their new album The Great Escape Artist because it’s got some pretty solid work on it. The vinyl version, even though it was recorded in digital, was mixed well and sounds almost as sweet as his older stuff.
The new release vinyl of Nothing Shocking brought back memories of listening to KRUA the college radio station here in Anchorage, of wondering just where music was going to go. There seemed to be infinite possibilities then. Songs like the Pigs in Zen or Idiots Rule made me realize just how far this thing could go. It was possible to write protest music and still be arty as fuck. But things don’t always work out the way you think they will. Just like how Perry’s stage voice can really start to grate on you after a while, Janes Addiction went away. But they rose again covered in ashes and I was finally getting to hear them live.
Chris Chaney seemed to be really loving the situation and told Perry a couple of times how great he thought the crowd was. It didn’t really sound like the usual pandering to an audience that you hear at a concert; “We love you Chicago!”, no this was, “You’re weird is right up our alley.” Dave Navarro has the whole rock god thing down pat. There is nobody who can stand one foot on a speaker, slamming the guitar and giving the impression he is looking straight into your soul, like Dave. Stephen was the consummate pro, the kind of guy who handles everything like he’s seen it 5,000 times before. He had a constant half smile that broke out into a grin when we burst into applause during his steel drum playing during Jane Says. And Perry, well he was Perry. The man with the patter to fit the local. The guy who could make the lead in to Standing in the Shower about the rain.
It was the counter points that sold the show. When they sat down to play Jane Says and Dave looked like he was on his grandmother’s porch on a Sunday evening. The MND even broke his own rule of never pulling out his phone and took the pictures I’ve posted here. Then there was the closing. To avoid the whole issue of people demanding an encore Perry, just kicked out the MFing jams with Stop! as the closing song. Dancers who up till then had only come on stage one or two at a time, filled the stage. Two young woman hooked themselves to steel trusses only by piercings on their backs and twirled around. The music screeched and collided with the sky. The audience stood stunned as the band filed off the stage. Then there was five minutes of wild applause and everyone ran madly for the shelter of their cars.
- Up the Beach – Nothings Shocking
- Ocean Size – – Nothings Shocking
- Ted, Just Admit It – Nothings Shocking
- Standing in the Shower… Thinking – Nothings Shocking
- Summertime Rolls – Nothings Shocking
- Mountain Song – Nothings Shocking
- Idiots Rule – Nothings Shocking
- Jane Says – Nothings Shocking
- Pigs in Zen – Nothings Shocking
- Been Caught Stealing – Ritual de lo Habitual
- Three Days – Ritual de lo Habitual
- Stop! – Ritual de lo Habitual