Massey Hall, Toronto - Feb. 27, 2012

Jane Stevenson, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:27 AM ET

TORONTO - Perry Farrell called Jane’s Addiction’s 2011 album, The Great Escape Artist - their first collection of original material in eight years - because he’s always trying to escape his storied past, as the founder of alt-rock festival Lollapalooza, among other things.

And yet, Farrell, now 52, was up to his crazy old familiar ways on Monday night at Massey Hall as Jane’s Addiction - rounded out guitarist Dave Navarro and drummer Stephen Perkins, along with Chris Chaney on bass - put on a 90-minute show big on theatrical production with a muddled middle despite a strong beginning and end.

Note: Before the alt-rock icons played a single note, a large group of women were led across the stage by what appeared to be a roadie and Pink Floyd’s Welcome To The Machine played while ghostly red lights were beamed out into the audience.

What it all meant was anybody’s guess, but it certainly suggested, at the very least, the sex-fuelled night of rock ‘n’ roll that was to come.

Farrell, dressed in head-to-toe black including a black leather jacket, fingerless gloves and designer track pants with a low crotch, began the evening in strong voice with the new song, Undergound, from The Great Escape Artist, an accomplished album under-represented in the set with just four songs.

Instead, the tight-sounding band - it took just 10 minutes for black leather pants-wearing Navarro to lose his shirt and show off his numerous tattoos while displaying his “mighty” guitar skills as Farrell called them - concentrated mainly on their ‘80s-’90s output.

The audience, on their feet from the beginning, lapped up such classics as Mountain Song, Been Caught Stealing, Jane Says (with Perkins on steel drums), and Stop along with fan favourites Just Because, Ocean Size, and a marathon version of Three Days.

But the distractions were many, including nonsensical talk from a potty-mouthed Farrell, who swigged from a bottle of red wine - “tonight we all get circumcisions!” was the tamest of his proclamations - and ‘50s-era S&M pornography that was projected onto three video screens during oldie but goodie Ted, Just Admit it.

Farrell, who has always liked the idea of two women, going back to the provocative album cover of Jane’s Addiction 1998 debut, Nothing’s Shocking, was dwarfed by a sculpture of two naked women behind him, and there were also two live women on stage who alternately sat on swings, donned S&M gear and spanked each other (Farrell also spanked one of the girls), or strode around wearing black leather bustiers while wielding canes.

There was also a stuffed bear, a man dresssed in a white hood and white tux and tails who alternately hung or beat up baby dolls on stage during the new song, Twisted Tales, before his own mock suicide, a guy dressed as a human sized crow and a creepy robot-slash-human who pushed a baby carriage across the stage.

It was meant to be thought provoking, but not all of it worked.

And the show took a turn for the worse when it slowed down considerably in the middle as the musicians gathered at the front of the stage to perform slower songs like Classic Girl, and I Would For You, with both Navarro and Chaney seated.

As for Farrell, when he wasn’t talking, he was a hyper, whirling dervish of energy, whether he was twirling, tap dancing, shaking a tambourine or maracas up on speakers or hi-fiving audience members at the front of the stage.

I left the venue thinking Perry Farrell, still crazy after all these years, God bless him.

SET LIST:

Underground

Mountain Song

Just Because

Been Caught Stealing

Ain’t No Right

Ted, Just Admit It

Twisted Tales

Classic Girl

Jane Says

I Would For You

End To The Lies

Three Days

Stop

ENCORE

Words Right Out Of My Mouth

Ocean Size

 


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