Jane's Addiction at the Brick, 3/19/12
By Rob Sherer
With Black Box Revelation
The Brick, Minneapolis
Monday, March 19, 2012
View a slideshow from the concert here.
Growing pains were on display last night as a new concert venue in Minneapolis made its debut and familiar faces from Los Angeles kept the party going. The sold-out Brick was frenzied as an adoring, rain-soaked, and very large audience welcomed Perry Farrell, Dave Navarro, Chris Chaney and Stephen Perkins. Before Jane's Addiction took the stage, the opening tracks of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" set an anxious atmosphere, punctuated by the unveiling of two nude female statues. It was an unexpected opening to a set in support of The Great Escape Artist, the band's fourth studio album, but it worked.
The nude icons were soon joined by the band members, most notably Farrell and Navarro in all their rock-god glory. The set got off to a blistering pace as new track "Underground" gave way to a rousing rendition of "Mountain Song." Farrell was electric and Navarro's guitar was equal to the task. A 90-minute set that included a few additional new tracks followed, punctuated with crowd favorites including "Just Because," "Been Caught Stealing," "Three Days," and "Stop."
Throughout, pageantry was at the forefront. Half-naked men and women, grotesque dolls, leather straps, bondage, spanking and simulated cutting were employed to heighten the experience. So too was a version of the rocking chair built for two from the 1988 cover of Nothing's Shocking. That was put to particularly good use, and a favorite what the hell moment came as a sort of S&M version of Swan Lake's "Von Rothbart" gyrated with a pair of scantily clad dancers.
Photo by Ryan Siverson
Nothing's shocking indeed. As electrifying as the early set was, it dragged, and the gratuitous visuals on stage quickly lost their effect. Farrell was charming as he bantered with the audience, and he was especially well received as he encouraged a group on the balcony to pull down drapery blocking their view. Sight lines were bad in several parts of the club and the crowd was all too happy to oblige as Farrell called out for them to "pull the fucking thing down."
Nothing's shocking to be sure, and most everything on stage was excessive. As the set plodded along, Farrell asked the crowd, "Do you know we've been here so long that the show is over?" The hour-and-a-half mark had come and gone at that point, and the tank very much appeared to be empty. A short encore that included only "Jane Says" was a lackluster bookend to a scintillating opening to the set.
The Venue: The sound was excellent. Farrell has one of the more exceptional set of pipes in contemporary rock and his clarion calls are nothing short of epic. The Brick's sound system responded in kind, but several faults were apparent. Sight lines are difficult, if not impossible from the balcony; the sold-out crowd seemed too large for the venue; and ticketing logistics were regrettable as many were stuck in the rain waiting to get inside. The Brick will do well to work on these shortcomings, and its security staff should be commended for a job well done on opening night. Bottom line - the sound was fantastic.
The Audience: It had all the charm of a wet dog and one could reasonably expect better behavior in thunder dome. Amidst the reek of stank weed and wet clothing, a portion of the audience tried to dismantle drapery along the balcony, a particularly classy woman was seen throwing her drink at a bartender and a team of security guards had to escort one guy's impossibly limp body down the stairs and out the door. All of this says nothing about the general lack of concert-going etiquette one expects at a small venue. Jane's Addiction is built for a stadium. As fun as it is to see them in an intimate setting, it's quite another thing to negotiate close quarters with a glut of pin-balling, elbow-throwing fans.
Personal Bias: I saw Jane's Addiction ten months ago in front of about 500 people. It was incredible and for the first time in 18 years, I realized why people love the band. Monday started on the same note, but the momentum built during "Mountain Song" faded with each subsequent song. The set indeed came down the mountain, giving way to an anemic encore which, happily enough, was eclipsed by Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" over the PA as the audience made its way to the door.
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