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[whitespace] Shoreline Gets Freaky

Jane's Addiction headlines LIVE 105's Halloween Freak Show

By Sarah Quelland

Last Friday (Oct. 26), Shoreline Amphitheatre was transformed into a dark carnival, a pagan celebration of epic proportions, as Jane's Addiction brought its Jubilee Tour to town in conjunction with LIVE 105's Halloween Freak Show. With a diverse lineup that included Stereo MCs, Sevendust, A.F.I., Onesidezero and San Jose's own Insolence, the night was primed for magic and mayhem.

Despite a glitch in the ticketing system that led some to believe the show would start later than it did, Insolence drew quite a crowd to the Levi's stage during its early performance.

This was the local band's first time at Shoreline, and its well-honed rasta/rap-rock sound went over well with the audience, particularly with those who follow a 4:20 lifestyle. A former staple of San Jose's club scene, Insolence proved its outgrown even the midsized second stage. After launching excitedly through highlights from its Maverick Records debut, Revolution, Insolence shared a brand-new song titled "Operation Irie," another pro-pot number from its growing catalog of marijuana love songs.

Though the crowd was still painfully small by the time Sevendust took the mainstage (it looked like BFD at 3pm when everyone's still roaming the grounds), the precision metal band was in fine form as it worked songs from its forthcoming album, Animosity (due out Nov. 13), into a setlist filled with favorites from Home and Black. The audience was particularly moved by "Angel's Son," a ballad written for the Strait Up tribute to Snot's late frontman, Lynn Strait.

Sevendust bears the distinction of having a drummer (Morgan Rose) whose puppetlike performance and robotic timing are so compelling that he upstages the band's muscular frontman (Lajon Witherspoon).

By the time Stereo MCs wrapped its set, Shoreline had filled up considerably and everyone in the crowd was waiting for one thing: Jane's Addiction. Complete with an entourage of erotic male and female dancers, flame-twirling stilt walkers, fire breathers, sword swallowers and a procession of mystical horned and winged beasts, Jane's Addiction created a surreal new world inside the open-air venue.

Part burlesque, part cabaret, part orgy and part Burning Man, this colorful Jubilee offered nonstop action and stunning visuals that stretched to the far reaches of the amphitheater.

Throughout the night, frontman Perry Farrell played the part of the consummate host, serving as the ringleader of this strange, hedonistic circus. Making a grand entrance wearing a long, flowing ball gown made of white parachute material, an androgynous Farrell concealed the dancers who writhed beneath his billowy skirt until they escaped to move and surge with the night. Over the course of the evening, he would trade a smart brick-red suit for a brown Western outfit and close the night in a shiny silver suit that twinkled like a disco ball.

Without so much as a new album to support the band's relapse/reunion tour, Farrell, guitarist Dave Navarro, drummer Stephen Perkins and former Porno for Pyros bassist Martyn LeNoble focused on Jane's beloved masterpieces from 1988's Nothing's Shocking and 1990's Ritual de lo Habitual, songs that have withstood the tests of time, space and musical trends remarkably well. Farrell and Navarro also broke the earlier relapse rules by playing songs from their recent solo efforts: Farrell sang "Happy Birthday Jubilee," and Navarro gave a mesmerizing performance of "Hungry."

Jane's is one of the few modern rock bands that can pull off touring exclusively on the merits of its old repertoire. At Shoreline, the band tweaked its songs, giving them a techno feel and letting them flow into extended jams that had no end. Periodically, Farrell would launch into cryptic monologues that rarely made sense but were interesting all the same, as he spun warped tales from the Bible, praised the late Bill Graham and celebrated the concept of freedom.

Midway through the concert, while a fire procession paraded across the center of the venue, Jane's disappeared, only to reappear on a small stage set up in the middle of the amphitheater. Fans on the lawn had an up-close-and-personal view as Jane's played its alternative ballads "Classic Girl" and "Jane Says." An extended version of "Mountain Song" began on the small stage only to be completed back on the mainstage as Jane's started to bring the night to a close.

With dancers at every turn, a swing carousel that spun madly out of control and a giant see-saw ridden by amorous nymphs, the entire show was a decadent spectacle. From the hypnotic beginnings of the slow burning "Kettle Whistle" to the orgasmic climax of the violent "Ted, Just Admit It," Jane's Addiction was nothing if not perversely provocative. Few would expect less from these counter-culture icons.

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Web extra to the November 1-7, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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