Touring to support their latest release, entitled The Great Escape Artist, seminal rock group Jane’s Addiction performed before a sold-out crowd at the Paramount Theatre (QRO venue review) in Huntington, New York on Sunday, March 4th. As opposed to solely showcasing the new material, ‘The Theatre of the Escapists Tour’ instead celebrated the band’s rich sonic history focusing mostly on their strong back catalogue. Touching upon only a handful of tracks from The Great Escape Artist, and just one from 2003’s Strays, a majority of the evening comprised of the songs that initially propelled the group into the limelight.
Before delving into the well-known crowd favorites, Jane’s Addiction barraged the audience with the heavy fuzz-bass tones and squealing guitars of the leading track off the new album, “Underground”. Backed by ancillary theatrics and deep grooves, lead singer Perry Ferrell whirled and pulsed across the stage obviously relishing in the audience’s warm reception.
The introductory track only ramped the excitement and exultation of the crowd by following up with a string of hit singles. The most notable of such tracks, “Been Caught Stealing”, was sung in a manner more reminiscent of the Kettle Whistle/lounge-style version than that found on Ritual De Lo Habitual. As the music inspired some members of the audience to sing, dance around, and crowd surf, a few brazenly climbed on stage for a dive off.
After approaching the midpoint of the set, Jane’s Addiction changed gears and took the audience on a journey back to the beginning of their existence with three songs off of their untitled debut live album. In perhaps the highlight of the night, the ever-popular and crowd-favorite sing-along “Jane Says” was sandwiched between two drastically different textures. Surrounding the tune, which features Stephen Perkins’ hammering out the tinny notes on the steel drums and Dave Navarro strumming acoustic progressions, the audience caught a less than publicized glimpse of Jane’s Addiction roots.
Beginning with a beautiful and demure rendition of “I Would For You” Perry Farrell intimately crooned the heartfelt lyrics. Stephen Perkins left his perch from the drum riser to sit stage left supplying a subtle beat on an electronic drum kit making the original recording feel somehow cheated. Dave Navarro traded the guitar for a keyboard to tap out the atmospheric synthetic strings as Chris Chaney, in his best Eric Avery, plucked chords and arpeggios on the bass.
The biggest thrill of the night came with the whooping and tribal thumping of the psychedelic experimental track “Chip Away”. Perry’s voice long sustained and unnaturally changed in pitch as he tweaked his vocal effect control box. The rest of the band, armed with drumsticks and mallets, huddled before a setup of floor toms and other such drums to beat out the wild rhythm.
Punctuating these tracks with another tune off of the new record, the band launched into “Irresistible Force”. Although the on-again/off-again status of main contributor and bass player Eric Avery fractured the group’s ability to maintain and progress as a whole, little evidence of his absence could be found here. While often leaning toward emulating his patented bass driven repetitious riffs on other tracks, “Irresistible Force” relied solely on chemistry among the guitar, drums, and vocals.
After rocking two more gems from the past they steered the night’s close with a dual encore of “The Words Right Out of My Mouth”, followed by an equally powerfully version of “Ocean Size”. When the house lights came up he three-decade-old group then left the stage with thanks to the faithful audience. Many lingered long after the stage cleared as if to savor the night and prevent the ending of this particular chapter.