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Jane's Addiction 'Theatre of the Escapist Tour': Nothing But A Good Time…Just Admit It

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Summertime rolls...

Alternative rock icons, Jane’s Addiction, stopped by Philadelphia’s Mann Music Center as part of their 24-city Theatre of the Escapists Tour Wednesday night. Touring in support of their latest release, The Great Escape Artist, Perry Farrell, Dave Navarro, Stephen Perkins and Chris Chaney showed their heady mix of rock, sex and helter skelter theatrical excess still makes them Houdini masters of their genre.

Blazing through a set list that was a fiery, yet congealed, alchemy of all the best of their old and new, the Jane’s boys delighted an eclectic mix of metal heads, punks, druggies, die-hards and scene dabblers comprising the crowd, much as they have for pretty much the entire duration of their 27(!) years of cosmic existence. Mixing old hits such as “Mountain Song”, “Been Caught Stealing” and, of course, “Jane Says” with new tracks including “Underground” (with which they opened), “Irresistible Force” and the characteristically hydrophilic number, “Splash a Little Water on It”, the band was in stellar form. 

Despite a brief downer interlude featuring a bizarre video of individuals making like Will Ferrell and punching a plastic baby (a heavy-handed criticism of child abuse?), followed by a rather pedestrian acoustic sit-down version of “Jane Says” (which really could only serve to disappoint, given how sonically ingrained it is in listeners’ collective cochleas from constant radio airplay over the years), the show was high energy and strung out on the soaring, dare one say incomparable, guitar/vocal combination of Navarro and Farrell. 

Truly, the man formerly known as Peretz Bernstein exhibited  the tendencies which have made him one of rock’s most electrifying front men and even illustrated that he may be growing into a bit of a mensch in his old age. Pouring tequila and red wine in to the mouths of fans, telling them to “Never mix beer with wine” and “When a man sweats on a woman’s breasts they’re bonded,” and hugging and conversing with them like a cross between Bacchus and Dr. Oz, Perry the impresario never left one feeling less than entertained. Navarro, of course, held the axe-wielding, top hat-doffing virtuosity down to a key of C5. And Perkins (the drummer) and Chaney, (the intermittently used replacement on bass for founding member, Eric Avery), also showed no rust for the wear. 

Here is a band that reminds what rock is all about. A band that still somehow harkens back to Los Angeles, circa 1987, where groups like Jane’s, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and X held sway, displaying the seedy punk meets metal meets grunge meets ? energy of summer night-loving artists flying stratospherically at/on Peter Pan speed.  And they are still visually captivating! Not only with the swinging, twin burlesque dancers with mile-long trains and massive, busty caryatids which were featured as the stage’s centerpiece, but each unto himself. All in all it was a splendorous evening, confirming that maybe these guys should put out an album more than once per decade.