Before closing out an hour-and-a-half long set last night, Jane's Addiction frontman Perry Farrell told a packed Fillmore Auditorium: "I read a review of this tour. It was not good. It said, and I say verbatim, 'Jane's Addiction has no reason for existing. They should just stop.'" While there have been a few breaks since forming in 1985, judging from last night's muscular performance at the Fillmore, there's ample justification to support these guys forging ahead and not throwing in the towel for good.
While Farrell still considers Jane's Addiction part of the underground, as referenced in the show's opener "Underground," one of three songs from last year's The Great Escape Artist, last night's performance was arena-worthy. Taking the stage while Pink Floyd's "Welcome to the Machine" played, the band then plowed through "Underground" with Farrell's wife, Etty, dancing with an opened jacket and white bra and panties underneath. Although there might have been seventeen years between the times "Mountain Song," from 1988's Nothing's Shocking, and "Just Because," the only song played from 2003's Strays, were released, Jane's played each tune with equal force.
"When I was in high school I used to watch all the pretty girls walk by, and they'd say 'Oh, Perry, how are you?," Farrell told the revved-up crowd after a raucous take on the hit "Been Caught Stealing." "I'd say, 'Hey, what you up to you? Wanna go out tonight?' 'Oh, Perry you're so cute, but I'm going out with this guy, and I met him at the club, and he's like 34 and owns a modeling agency.' 'So fuck him. I mean, tell me the truth. What's wrong with me?' She says, 'Well, you're just skin and bones and you got a pointy nose'."
With that Chris Chaney, who's been in the band off and on over the last decade, launched into opening bass line to "Ain't No Right," one of the most energetic cuts of the night, fueled by drummer Stephen Perkins' feverish and thunderous work on the toms.
Up to that point, the band had been motoring vigorously through one cut after another, with guitarist Dave Navarro ripping into one solo after another as Farrell pogoed around the stage with strobe lights flashing until slowing things down a bit on "Ted, Just Admit It..." As black and white video of girls stripping in black bra and panties played on either side of the stage, Farrell asked, "Who doesn't like titties? Men like titties. I like titties. Dave, you love titties. Chris, I wonder how much you love the titties. Women love titties. Yay, let's celebrate titties!" As the song intensified with Perkins riding the toms again, bondage footage was beamed on either side of the stage.
"Mind if I have a seat?" Farrell said before he, Navarro and Chaney played "Classic Girl" sitting on stools. "They say you should never eat or drink on your feet. I don't know how many meals and drinks I've had on my feet. Probably more than I've had in my seat. A lot more. It's okay. That's why they invented chairs, right?"
After "Classic Girl," Farrell yelled, "It's not because I'm going deaf, I just want it louder! It's good for your ears because it's good for you heart. If it's good for your heart, it's good for your cock. If it's good for my cock, well that's fucking good, isn't it? Right? Let's make it louder!"
While, at this point, you'd think the band might have launched into another rocker, instead Navarro got on acoustic and Perkins walked to the front of the stage to play bongos and steels drums on "Jane Says," which had the crowd fervently singing along. Next up was "Chip Away," which featured Perkins, Navarro and Chaney all beating the hell out of toms near the front to the stage, beefy and tribal.
"Ocean Size" came at the end of the set, followed by the thoroughly epic encore "Three Days," which had this incredible gradual build that slowly intensified, like a modern day "Bolero," until Perkins was thundering on the toms as Farrell was flanked by two female dancers wearing ball gags and holding canes.
Personal Bias: The band's last Denver show with Nine Inch Nails at Fiddler's Green (now Comfort Dental Amphitheatre) in 2009 was stellar, but last night was pretty-close epic.
By The Way: Opener the Duke Spirit was in fine form, especially frontwoman Liela Moss, throughout its half-hour opening set.
Random Detail: A few songs into the set, a taxidermied bear was wheeled out and stood next to Navarro's amp the rest of the show.
Jane's Addiction Fillmore Auditorium - 5/29/12 Denver, CO
01. Underground 02. Mountain Song 03. Just Because 04. Been Caught Stealing 05. Ain't No Right 06. Ted, Just Admit It... 07. Twisted Tales 08. Classic Girl 09. Jane Says 10. Chip Away 11. Summertime Rolls 12. End to the Lies 13. Ocean Size
14. Three Days 15. Stop!
Follow Backbeat on Twitter: @westword_music
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.