In spirit of The Great Escape Artist, Louisville’s Palace Theater was a fitting venue for the theatrical performance by Jane's Addiction last night. Accompanied by eccentric stage characters and props, they left no album untouched with a mixed set list to please any fan.
One would’ve thought they came to a Pink Floyd tribute show as the opening chords of “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” rumbled inside the Palace walls. It’s not until David Gilmour’s first solo kicks in that we see a flash of movement on stage, two figures draped in white suspended several feet over the floor. Suddenly the opening buzz clips of “Welcome to the Machine” interrupts and the members of Jane’s Addiction slowly file onto the dimmed stage.
They opened appropriately with “Underground,” the first single of The Great Escape Artist. It was now bright enough to admire the ornate stage set up. The draped figures were actually two foxy women on swings wearing tattered white dresses, almost as physical extensions of the large naked twin statues posing in the back, center stage.
By the second song, they’re already reeling back old tunes with “Mountain Song” and “Been Caught Stealing.” Time hasn’t lost Perry Farrell’s tendency to feel out strategically-placed scat vocal breaks. Dave Navarro brought out thrash nastiness on “Aint’ No Right,” another pull from the acclaimed Ritual De Lo Habitual.
The familiar rhythmic opening of “Ted…Just Admit It” spotlighted the twins, now in skimpy corsets, as they mirrored poses under a harsh, red light. All three stage screens were projecting vintage porno clips as Farrell screamed “sex is violent” to a confirming crowd.
A short film about voodoo babies (the correct term slips my mind; starts with an S…) played during a brief intermission for stage hands to switch out props. Suddenly, a stuffed grizzly bear appears. They welcomed us back with a mellow rendition of “Jane Says,” courtesy of Stephen Perkins’s pseudo drums and a scat vocal build to the first verse.
“Irresistible Forces” fast-forwarded back to The Great Escape Artist, but was overshadowed by “Three Days” as a follow-up. Some extended guitar shreds filled the solo space of its sprawling twelve minute length. They capped off the show with “Stop!” but it wasn’t enough for the crowd to resist cheering for an encore, in which the band happily obliged. The stage characters also came back adorned in feathers for primal head banging in "True Nature." Returning to their west coast roots, “Ocean Size" closed the show in a wave of intensity.
Those absent last night missed an incredible show, but there are still opportunities to catch Jane’s Addiction around the Midwest this summer. Head to Memphis as they play The Beale Street Festival in May, or catch them in Illinois for the Summer Camp Festival.
Photos: Allison Ray