Review by Jason Guest
Released July 8th 2013 on DVD, Blu-Ray, CD, Double Vinyl LP, and Digital
Unlike most bands that have been in existence for such a long period, Jane’s Addiction have managed to maintain legendary status with only four studio albums to their name. 1988’s Nothing Shocking is often cited as the band’s best album but it’s 1990’s Ritual de lo Habitual, the album that provided the band’s biggest hit, ‘Been Caught Stealing’, that the band is best known for. After their first breakup in 1991, it would be six years before they would reunite (Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers in place of Avery) and record again with two tracks recorded in 1997 for the Kettle Whistle compilation. 2003 saw the band return with Strays (with Chris Chaney on bass), an album that while it perhaps wasn’t up to the standard of their first two albums, prompted much speculation about what the band could have achieved had they not split twelve years before.
After another stint with Eric Avery between 2008 and 2010, Jane’s Addiction next album, 2011’s The Great Escape Artist (with David Sitek providing bass for the recording), again may not have been quite what fans desired from the band but it’s still a good album nonetheless. And so, Jane’s Addiction appear again in 2013, this time with a DVD of a live performance taken from their Theatre of Escapists tour. Possibly recorded before they split up again, recorded on 29 December 2012, Live In NYC appears 28 years after the bands formation, and judging the track listing, it appears that the band see their first two albums as their most potent.
Visually, this is gorgeous. Opening with footage of New York City in its early 20th century heyday, it quickly cuts to the band on stage playing ‘Whores’. A suitable elaborately decorated and colourfully lit stage, the suit-clad cool Perry Farrel is flanked by tattooed rock star-turned TV Reality show host and Penthouse relationship guru Dave Navarro and session/live and not-as-resplendently-dressed bassist Chris Chaney. With Stephen Perkins perched behind his kit and not-quite-in the limelight, he’s got little to complain about as two scantily-clad girls (one of which is Farrell’s wife, Etty Lau) swing from the ceiling above him. Musically, they are as tight and as beautiful as they ever were. Farrell’s voice is coloured by that trademark reverb that gives his idiosyncratic croon that hauntingly detached yet far-reaching sound. Navarro’s guitar work is potent, his leads ablaze with psychedelic splendour and his riffs seductive. Chaney does what great bassists do and sits perfectly in the pocket between the combined radiance of Farrell and Navarro’s showmanship and Perkins rhythmic pulse. And together, well, they’re Jane’s Addiction.
At just over one hour, the gallery of stills from the DVD goes little in the way of making up for the absence of tracks from their 2003 and 2011 albums, after all there are great tracks on both of those albums that could have provided at least another fifteen or perhaps twenty minutes of footage. The bonus interview with Farrell is interesting. Discussing the band’s origins and its evolution, Farrell makes for a compelling storyteller yet when he gives his definition of what it means to be a band and an artist in an era of get-rich-quick reality shows and ephemeral stardom, Farrell makes many a salient point. If, as Farrell maintains, real musicians work for their art and it is perseverance, love and passion, and absolutely no ass-kissing whatsoever that defines true musicianship, Jane’s Addiction can be counted among the best. Yet by choosing a set-list comprising material from their first two albums and only one new track, it does raise questions about how the band sees itself and its oeuvre. Was Avery correct when, in 2010, he left saying that “the Jane’s Addiction experiment is at an end”? If so, this DVD is no more than a nostalgia piece and the band a mere shadow of what they once were. Or is it that Jane’s Addiction remain a profound and potent reminder that musicianship and integrity are very much alive and well and what audiences truly crave? I like to think it’s the latter.
7.5 out of 10
- Ain’t No Right
- Just Because
- Ted, Just Admit It…
- Been Caught Stealing
- Irresistible Force (Met The Immovable Object)
- Up the Beach
- Ocean Size
- Three Days
- Mountain Song
- Jane Says