Saturday at Bumbershoot: Jane's Addiction Is Wine by the Bottle

Renee McMahon
Here are five excuses I heard for why Jane's Addiction frontman Perry Farrell sounded fully shit-canned Saturday night:

1. The sound engineer sucked

2. The Key Arena sucks

3. Perry Farrell thinks he's Jesus

4. Perry Farrell was holding the microphone to far from his mouth

5. Dave Navarro was great

Alas, by the time Farrell produced his bottle of wine from somewhere near the bass drum, it was quite clear that he was coming by his boozy sound honestly.

Renee McMahon
And it mattered. At times, the band sounded like a bad night at the karaoke bar - "Been Caught Stealing" was particularly tenuous. Other times, it seemed like Farrell wasn't there, leaving the listener entirely in the hands of Navarro's blistering guitar work.

Which, in turn, is why Farrell's wino moments weren't fatal to the show: Throughout, Navarro worked the set with a sober determination that gave it a bedrock consistency, carrying the show through its rough spots and allowing it to soar when Farrell hit his notes.

The show hit a sublime stride when all band members save for Farrell joined together on various percussion instruments for "Chip Away" and "Jane Says," songs that not only pleased but showed how insanely inventive this band is.

There was also plenty of bizarre eye candy to behold: the show opened with two maidens in flowing white gowns swinging high above the stage, one of whom was being molested by a goblin. Later, a generally nefarious looking hunchback walked across stage then hanged a baby doll - as in put a noose around a baby doll and suspended it from the rafters above the stage. Whatever.

And for all his vocal missteps, Farrell seemed to be enjoying himself, which helped the huge Key Arena audience enjoy the show. He wasn't going through motions, though his famously flailing motions were many. At one point, he cooed to the audience: "You my baby tonight, Seaaale [the Ts weren't coming through for him]. Let's have sex."

That gets to one last rationalization I heard after the show: "They actually put on a show. They didn't just play."

Renee McMahon
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