Jane's Addiction - May 30, 1991 - Cal Expo Amphitheatre, Sacramento, CA

Date: May 30, 1991
Location: Cal Expo Amphitheatre, Sacramento, CA
Recorded: Audio
Status: Confirmed
Type: Concert
Lineup: Perry Farrell
Dave Navarro
Stephen Perkins
Eric Avery


Up The Beach
Standing In The Shower... Thinking
Idiots Rule
Ain't No Right
Three Days
Been Caught Stealing
Ted, Just Admit It...
Summertime Rolls
Mountain Song
Jane Says
Chip Away

Show Information:

Mary's Danish opened for Jane's at this show.

JUNE 1, 1991
Section: SCENE
Page: SC3

By David Barton Bee Pop Music CriticBy By David Barton Bee Pop Music Critic

GENERALLY SPEAKING, the world of hard rock is a small, conservative one, where musical ideas from outside the genre are suspect and there are very strict unwritten codes concerning dress, subject matter and performance.

Which is why Jane's Addiction, which played the Cal Expo Amphitheatre Thursday night, is the most interesting hard rock band of the '90s: it uses the basic language of hard rock but extrapolates from it and twists it into something distinctive and individual.

Based on Stephen Perkins' pounding tom-tom rhythms, which cross the tribal affectations of the mid-to-late-'60s West Coast bands like the Doors and Jefferson Airplane with a classic Bo Diddley backbeat, Jane's music swirls and echoes, creating dense atmosphere and palpable textures rather than melodies and song structures.

Bassist Eric Avery keeps a steady throb going throughout, and guitarist Dave Navarro uses echo and other effects to color in the sound, resulting in the most rhythmic and atmospheric of hard rock bands.

But Perry Farrell, despite his punny name (peripheral) is the focus of the group, not just visually, but also as the maker of its controversial album covers, as an increasingly outspoken champion of liberal causes and, last but not least, as its singer.

Singer is a charitable way to describe Farrell, who has a loose relationship with pitch and harmony, sliding in and out of each in pursuit of the perfect howl. His sustained, non-verbal cries work well with the trio's swirling grooves, but he has a tough time staying on pitch, and spent a good portion of the group's sole hit, Been Caught Stealing, in a key unrelated to the band's.

Thursday night, Farrell was shorn of the long dreadlocks he had sported since the group's incarnation, instead dressed in a big red suit and white Fedora that made him look like a cross between David Byrne and Mick Jagger.

Farrell was helped visually by a spectacularly creative lighting design, full of odd color juxtapositions and cliche-free lighting angles, all animated by the constant swirl of stage smoke stirred up by a wind that blew across the stage the entire show. (Unfortunately, that wind also tended to blow the sound away from the audience, making for uneven sound through the show.)

Working against Farrell was he himself, opening his mouth only to make simple-minded political comments that undercut the show's music. Taking political positions is all very well and good, but Farrell's attempts to make Big Statements went consistently awry, sometimes gratingly so. This is a pop star unafraid to let a lack of clear thinking keep him from the soapbox any more than he lets his lack of vocal chops keep him from the microphone.

Outraged by the recent Supreme Court decision on abortion counselling, Farrell commented, Abortion is practically illegal now, so you can start brushing up on your coat-hanger technique, adding, You keep sitting on your a--es, the whole world's gonna be taken over by the CIA.

Later, he exhorted the crowd to put some people into government who can makes us all happy, and chanted free speech, free will as the band launched into Been Caught Stealing, a tight little funk rocker that extolls the joys of shoplifting. This is the flower of popular intellect?

THE AUDIENCE of 9,000 didn't seem particularly impressed, an impression reinforced by the steady rain of shoes that flew on stage, which outraged Farrell (who pronounced himself and everybody else bummed) and probably accounted for both his relative stiffness and the brevity of the set.

Besides that, though, the audience was remarkably passive, dancing at certain points, and cheering the most familiar numbers Mountain Song, Standing in the Shower. . . Thinking, Stop! and Been Caught Stealing but falling silent as the band finished its set at just over an hour.

Jane's Addiction takes hard rock into areas where it rarely goes, and refuses to fall into anything too tightly choreographed, which leaves room for surprises. But in the final accounting, it delivers less than it promises. Certainly Jane's is different, and that's half the battle in rock 'n' roll, but it is nowhere near the intellectual level Farrell pretends, and musically, despite its considerable promises, the charm of different wears off quickly.