Jane's Addiction - Camden Koko - 30 August 2011
By: Mark Reed
Many years ago, Jane’s Addiction were a dream to me. Split, gone, burnt, ashes. The fragments of memory existed on records, videotapes. A band I would never see, experience, feel, or taste, except through records. And if you’ve only experienced Jane’s Addiction on record, you’ve tasted less than half of the banquet. And then, the inevitable reformation. Some bands should split up. Some bands should never reform. Some, you wonder, how did you live without them? Like a colour blindness, having never known a world of green, for example. Jane’s Addiction are one of the primary colours of rock.
After two cancellations in a row – disappointing fans at the Reading and Leeds Festival with throat problems – there is doubt that tonight will happen. Text messages, webpages, and emails fly across the country: flights and trains and babysitters are nervously booked and boarded. Even as we stand outside the venue, the crowd files in, the tickets are stamped, there is doubt. Is tonight going to happen? Is Perry’s Voice still shot?
We could all do without this. As bands age, the idea of packing everything up into a kitbag and trawling all over the country just seems impossible. Weddings, children, jobs, mortgages. All the things we swore we would never do. Or all the things we never thought we would get to be old enough to do. Live for today, for tomorrow is a mystery. In these days, a gig is a rarity – not a regularity – and the moments that we live and breathe and love for, when everything else goes away, and when all that exists is a joy.
I admit. I play air drums. And air guitar. No shame. Forget that other people can see you. I don’t care what I look like when wrapped in this music. I care about how I feel. Better than sex? Well. Maybe. What I know is that the horrendously crammed Camden Palace – you can call it Koko if you like, but it’s the Camden Palace, and we all know it – and that this music is transporting people to a world that is, in all probability, much better than the one we live in. A world made by dreamers and not businessmen. All of us with wings. And Stephen Perkins whips up a frenzy of drums, and the songs ebb and flow, rise, and fall, tension and release, Dave Navarro coiled and poses, speaking the language of LA Hair Metal, but different, better, with a visionary approach to chords and structure, whilst Perry Farrell – an aging 52, but svelte and looking more like Al Pacino than ever, bends the fragile vocal chords through a bank of phasers and pedals, playing his own voice like a guitar, rousing a chorus.
Opening with ‘Pigs In Zen’, Jane’s dispatch a salvo of old, but not dated songs. These may very well sound this superlative and sparkling in a hundred years time. ‘Aint No Right’ is followed by – for the first time on British shores – a full, electric scream through ‘Just Because’.
As is customary, Jane’s have brought a new old line-up back to the stage. After a five year hiatus in the middle of last decade, a brief reformation with original bassist Eric A came to a close. Tonight, the mystery bass player is Chris Chaney – first seen with the band nine years ago, at my first Jane’s Addiction show. Line-up aside (and Chris is a perfect fit to the band) – there is also new material, though only ‘An End To The Lies’ is played tonight. Given Perry’s fragile throat, it may very well be that the set is shorter than usual (75 minutes). Not necessarily that this matters – the last time I left a gig and had to buy a new t-shirt due to a tide of sweat was New Order in Wolverhampton in 2006. And then, it’s ‘Mountain Song’.
Perhaps more than anything tonight was a restatement of the obvious. I’ve never seen Jane’s Addiction play anything less than a captivating, committed set, never anything less than being lost in a moment and meaning this. This is who we are; not suits, not commuters, not indebted wage slaves. We are beautiful creatures in a world run by the cruel.
Been a long time since I’ve seen a reaction quite this : balconies swaying. Hands reaching to the stage. A thousand voices chanting the same words, the same songs, lost in the same moment. If only we could bottle this power. We could rule the world. We could change the world.
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