Jane's Addiction/Nine Inch Nails: Live Last Night

perry farrell

Live Last Night

Perry Farrell is fun. Fronting the reunited Jane's Addiction at Merriweather Post last night, Farrell filled the big room and lawn with laughs and worked the stage with poses borrowed from Jim Morrison and Jerry Lewis.

"Let's kill some pain!" Farrell told the crowd early in the set, hugging and chugging from a wine bottle and dressed in black sequins with frills and boots, an ensemble that seemed borrowed from a really fabulous cowboy's wardrobe.

(Read the rest of the review after the jump.)

Even when he's being profane, as during his intro to "Ocean Size," Farrell had everybody laughing before he got to rockin'. He couldn't even shut off his humorous urges during the shock-rocker "Ted, Just Admit It," making comical pelvic thrusts amid all the references to violent sex. He settled down briefly to give a moody reading of "Then She Did," an ambitious and downright Doors-esque number.

Farrell still suffers from the same sort of attention deficit disorder that has caused him to disband Jane's Addiction so many times over the years. While introducing "One Percent," he interrupted a rant that had something to do with not trusting government, but instead trusting Farrell to scream "I'm 50!" He really is that old, but showed remarkable agility for a guy that age or any other. The song -- with Farrell yelling "The gang! The government! No difference!" -- delivered the message more successfully.

Guitarist Dave Navarro, who like Farrell has less body-fat than a jockey, pulled off a rare feat for a guitar hero: He took a shredding, string-bending solo on pretty much every tune -- the longest and wah-wah-est run coming during an Everest-sized version of "Mountain Song" -- but never changed guitars or took any obvious tuning breaks.

The encore included an unplugged and light-hearted version of "Jane Says," a song that every radio programmer loves, no matter the station's format. Farrell sang the familiar lyrics in a cadence just different enough from the ubiquitous recorded version to prevent the crowd from singing along with its hero, as so many fans had obviously been waiting to do.

trent reznor
Trent Reznor, the anti-Farrell, was less successful working the room during Nine Inch Nails' opening set. Reznor is incredibly influential, as much as the industrial beats and creepy aura of his recorded products are copied. But in the live setting, Reznor's downbeatness was mostly lost in a blitz of synths, strobes and smoke. At climactic moments of dark tunes such as "Echoplex" and "The Becoming," he'd get lost in a huge cloud of smoke. (Seriously, if there's ever a shortage of fake smoke, NIN's gonna have to give up touring for good.)

But when thousands of folks scream in unison -- and this holds even with the most bitter of lyrics -- beauty happens. So it was with "Head Like a Hole," a rare NIN radio hit, as Reznor had the whole crowd shrieking unsweet nothings such as "I'd rather die than give you control!"

Reznor's music works best when it overwhelms, like in a car stereo with the windows up and the subwoofers set to levels that could cause internal bleeding. Such consuming volumes aren't possible at massive sheds like Merriweather, however. So the gloom Reznor tries to exude with every tune only came through on the ballads. His glacially paced rendering of "Hurt," the Reznor dirge that Johnny Cash put in the mainstream shortly before dying, was positively downlifting. Just as Reznor desired.


By J. Freedom du Lac |  June 10, 2009; 3:05 PM ET Live Last Night
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I don't know about you Jay, but my ears were pretty well dinned by the end of NIN's set. Two very different kinds of sets and acts, but I for one felt very satisfied at the end of the night.

Gods, Perry Farrell is 50.*shakes head*

Posted by: EricS2 | June 10, 2009 4:28 PM

Not a word about the opening act, the way-past-awesome Street Sweeper Social Club, with Tom Morello and Boots Riley? That was the highlight of the night for me.

Posted by: fiendwithoutaface | June 10, 2009 4:44 PM

Nine Inch Nails was amazing last night. What a great performance. They should have been headling this tour. They only downside last night is that the video monitors on both sides of the arena was not operating while Nine Inch Nails was performing.

Posted by: danshell218 | June 10, 2009 5:36 PM

I don't think they would have seen anything Dan. The stage was too dark for the cameras to pick up what was going on.

Posted by: EricS2 | June 11, 2009 1:26 AM

Here we have the typically clueless Washpost review. I sometimes wonder whether the Post reviewers even go to the same events that I do, despite reading supposed evidence to the contrary. Or perhaps there aren't enough reviewers to go around to have someone attend an event where they actually have some familiarity with the work of the artist.

From our seats in the Pavillion, the sound was filled with an incredible amount of volume and presence, almost too much. It was like being in a club. I thought both sets were tremendous. I have seen NIN many times, and was wary of this new stripped-down version. No worries. The set was terrific and Trent's voice was in excellent fettle. Jane's was a revelation. I agree that Perry was very entertaining, but what blew me away was the power and musicianship of the band. Dave Navarro, whom I viewed as a reality show dropout, was stunning.

Posted by: garyyac | June 11, 2009 3:02 PM

Seriously, nothing about Street Sweeper Social Club? They played a 1/2 hour rockin' set and they don't merit a single word - that's really disappointing. I have to agree with a previous reviewer, from where I was in the pavilion, that sound was pretty intense. Am amazing show - unfortunately that does not come through at all in this review.

Posted by: ArlingtonAllison | June 12, 2009 8:59 AM

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