Nine Inch Nails & Jane's Addiction: My (16 Year Old) Dream Concert

Photo by flickr user 'General Disarray (ClintJCL)'If you had told me 16 years ago that I could see Jane's Addiction and Nine Inch Nails together at one concert, I probably would have started gibbering incoherently and asked what horrible acts I had to perform in order to get a ticket to said magical dream show. Well, it turns out that the horrible acts included little more than handing over a huge fistful of cash and 16 years of patient waiting. Last night, my dream concert came true, and I couldn't be happier.

We got to Merriweather Post Pavilion in the middle of the Nine Inch Nails set, which was a bummer, but I still got to hear the second half of "The Becoming," as well as great renditions of "Burn," "Dead Souls," "Hurt," and "Head Like A Hole" which was a fantastic closer. NIN definitely seemed more focused than the times I'd seen them in the past, and a bit louder as well, but the rage seemed toned down. Maybe Trent's just in a happier place these days, but while there was plenty of yelling, he just didn't seem as pissed off - he's too obviously happy to be on stage performing songs he loves in front of huge crowds. I can't blame him.

But the real star of the show was of course the always entertaining Perry Farrell. At the ripe old age of 50, he pranced his skinny frame around the stage all night wearing little more than what I'm generously calling pants and sporting some sort of feathery tail. Swigging from his signature bottle of wine, dispensing bits of "wisdom," and dancing around like a gay peacock, he called to mind some bizarre mixture of David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Tony Curtis, and a Jewish grandmother. While his voice has never been his strong suit, Perry worked the knobs and dials of his "make-me-sound-good" machine to great effect, essentially making his voice another instrument in the mix on every song.

While Perry did his "rock star from another planet" routine, Dave Navarro rocked the "too cool for school guitar god" persona all night, replete with a cigarette sticking out from between the strings on the neck of his guitar. My friend Matt made a comment earlier in the evening that Jane's Addiction and Guns N' Roses are essentially 2 sides of the same coin, and watching Navarro, I could definitely see him as sort of a bizarro Slash who used his talents for good. Stephen Perkins looked happy as hell to be on stage, showing not a shred of ego despite being one of rock's best drummers. And Eric Avery did his best to look like his appearance on stage was his fulfillment of some court ordered community service. You could see him wince every time Perry got too close, which of course only made Perry all the more likely to stay close once he got there. I have no idea how these guys haven't all killed each other yet.

Personalities aside, the music was simply incredible. It's hard to be objective about a concert I've essentially waited half my life to see, but the fact that they lived up to my expectations has to mean something. They didn't really vary from the setlist they've been performing on this tour, but that's OK - those were the songs I wanted to hear. From the opener of "3 Days" to "1%," "Whores," "Ted, Just Admit It," "Ocean Size," and more, they brought to life songs that have been part of the fabric of my musical memory since I can remember being interested in music. They even made "Then She Did" (a tune I'd never really cared for) sound alive and interesting. The only low point was "Been Caught Stealing," which the band didn't really seem to care about, nor did the audience. I wonder why they played it?

Of course, I owe all this musical love (as usual) to my brother, who one day randomly walked into my bedroom and handed me a CD of "Nothing's Shocking" and said something along the lines of "I think you'll like this." Whether he meant to or not, he changed the way I would listen to music forever - i.e. I would henceforth hear all other bands through the aural lens of Jane's Addiction. And that's fine by me. I'll be there for their next reunion tour, and my inner 16-year-old will be delighted.


Molly Malone said...

they played "been caught stealing" for the people in the crowd like me who know them for nothing else. not to say that they should, but just that every artist has some signature song that an uninitiated listener will at least mostly recognize. ("born to run," "closer to fine," "it's the end of the world as we know it," etc.) it's probably contractual or something. that your audience wasn't all that into it probably speaks to the narrower appeal of Jane's Addiction. i hate seeing artists perform and watching the crowd liking the show, but then erupting when they get to the signature song. not that the song isn't good,just that it annoys me. (grump.)

glad to read the review. we saw NIN last fall, the day after the election. (first time for both of us.) Reznor told the audience that now that his candidate had won, he wasn't sure he'd have as much anger to write from. the last 8 years, i suppose gave him a lot of material. we're going to see NIN/JA this weekend. i'm so-so on NIN (growing on me) and know nothing of Jane's Addiction but i'm open. i'm just looking forward to a good night out. sounds like i'll have one.

99 said...

thanks for the shout out. i was a total jane's addiction evangelist back in the day, as i've been at various other times with bands like smashing pumpkins (everyone i knew had to love gish or i couldn't rest), eels (daisies of the galaxy was a constant presence), dexys (if you know me, you've been forced to listen to "until i believe in my soul"), etc. that's what i do . . .

i had read an article in one of the many, many music magazines i read back in high school about "the next big thing" - a band from l.a. just signed to warner bros. i had no idea what they sounded like but i was curious. one night in in early fall 1988, i believe, i bought the cassette of "nothing's shocking" at a record store in lakeforest mall. i remember asking the record store guy what they sounded like. he said "i think they're a metal band."

late that night i listened to the album. i was reading a book, but by the time "ted, just admit it" got going i was just sitting on my bed listening to the album. very aware that i was hearing something special.

not too long after that jack and gina bought me a cd player and i wasted all sorts of money replacing my tapes. i must have shoved the cd down your throat around then. sorry - you were 11, 12 years old, whatever - you weren't coming to the (old) 9:30 Club with me and karen to see them . . . twice. if it's any consolation, i had to buy her ticket and pay gas money to get her to take me to the shows. do you remember all of those necklaces i used to wear back in the day? i found that ankh on the floor of the 9:30 Club at one of those shows. at one of the two, perry took a cigarette from a girl. mocked her, saying "i'm so cool, i smoke." then ground out the cigarette in his dreadlocks. a great time was had by all.

i still think there are only three great songs on ritual - "three days," "stop" and "classic girl." but those three are pretty damn great and better than most can pull off. "nothing's shocking" and the live album (purchased on vinyl at records yesterday and today) are still close to my heart, however.

i'm glad you finally got to see them and it lived up to the expectations. i would have been there if not for the tv on the radio show. which really was excellent . . .

Newmanium Reveler said...

This reminds me that every time I record an out-of-office message on my work voicemail, I am tempted to say, "...if you leave a message, I'll call you back. LEAVE IT BY THE BED!"

Somewhere along the way, my Ritual cd got scratched on "Then She Did" (a song that I love, because I'm like that) and it upset me to no end. So I was excited to find it on vinyl at a stoop sale down the block from me a few years back. Except that when I got home and threw on side B to hear "then she did" after so many years...well, the record was scratched there too.

As for reunions...you know I'm waiting with bated breath: http://www.rollingstone.com/rockdaily/index.php/2009/02/26/faith-no-more-confirm-reunion-reveal-lineup

Kurt Fields said...

The most brilliant and creative bands of my generation. Cheers to NIN!