Live Voodoo features the original Jane’s Addiction line-up – guitarist Dave Navarro, bassist Eric Avery, drummer Stephen Perkins, and enigmatic frontman Perry Farrell - enjoying a glorious reunification. They carry the crowd through 13 cuts, predominantly culled from their first two albums. The band stirs up some voodoo of their own, buoyed by the mesmerizing magic of Farrell’s unmatched stage presence, and Navarro’s hyper-charged and heavy riffage. Roused to a riotous climax, the stage is invaded by a singing, dancing and costumed mass of fans in pure punk rock fashion.Track Listing:
I first heard Jane's Addiction back in 1988 when I was 21. A friend played me tracks from Nothing's Shocking as we sat in his bedroom, and I was immediately captivated by their refreshingly different blend of musical genres, which was in sharp contrast to the hair-metal and rap music popular at the time. Particularly impressive was the fact that all four band members (bassist Eric Avery, singer Perry Farrell, guitarist Dave Navarro, and drummer Stephen Perkins) were talented musicians. Being from Los Angeles, they played many local shows, memorable for their energy and unpredictably distinct details, many of which I can still recall decades later. It felt like they belonged to those of us in on the secret, but there was no way we were going to keep them to ourselves.
Which is exactly what happened. "Jane Says" started getting regular play on the radio. Their follow-up Ritual de lo Habitual came out in 1990, and the music videos from the album received attention on MTV. The touring music festival known as Lollapalooza, which Farrell co-created, helped usher the alternative nation into the mainstream. Unfortunately, Lollapalooza was not solely a beginning but an ending as well. The band announced they were breaking up at the end of the tour. After the split in 1991, they continued to make music in various combinations (Deconstruction, Porno for Pyros) and apart from each other. In 1997 and 2001, the band reunited sans Avery for tours and released Strays in 2003. They broke up again in 2004.
The original quartet reunited in April 2008 to receive the Godlike Genius Award from New Music Express, after which they performed a few songs together. Excitement among fans grew as the reunion continued. They played a few small L.A. clubs and went into the studio to work with Trent Reznor. There was a co-headlining summer tour with Nine Inch Nails followed by more dates on their own. Reports of tensions within the band surfaced. When Avery sat out a New Year's Eve show in Aspen, it was no surprise to read reports they weren't making any new music together.
After the last night of their Australian tour ended on March 1, 2010, Avery made it official with the tweet "thats it. with equal parts regret and relief, the janes addiction experiment is at an end." For fans and the curious who missed out on the reunion, the band has released 'Live Voodoo,' recorded on Halloween night 2009 at the New Orleans Voodoo Experience, which would be their final performance in the United States.
They open with "Up The Beach". Avery lays down a solid bassline that drives the song as Perkins and Navarro play around it. Farrell prances around the stage dressed in a cape clutching a wine bottle. They segue into a thunderous version of "Mountain Song" where Navarro's guitar soars on the bridge.
At the start of "Three Days", alternative music's answer to Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven", Farrell and a couple of dancers (one of which is Farrell's wife) pose in an allusion to the Ritual album artwork. Unfortunately, there are too many needless cuts to the dancers when it should focus on the band members. The power of the music endures in spite of the visuals. The dancers return during "Ted, Just Admit It" sitting side by side at the back of the stage, looking like the Siamese twin sculpture from the cover of Nothing's Shocking.
All appear to be having a grand time, except Avery, who rarely smiles. Perry and Dave are playful with each other throughout. Perkins puts on different masks. Avery paces his area of the stage throughout the show with purpose and intensity. It's a surprise he hasn't worn grooves into the stage. He finally sits down on the drum riser for the lilting bassline on "Summertime Rolls".
After the main set, the band returns with Avery and Navarro taking up acoustic guitars and Perkins getting a small kit at the front of the stage with steel drums. A bunch of costumed revelers come out for "Jane Says". They close out the night with the intense tribal drumming on "Chip Away" joined by a roadie on Perkins' drums.
What they may lack in spontaneity from their glory days, Jane's Addiction circa 2009 certainly makes up for in skill, and thankfully have the same amount of passion for the music they created. As far as rock 'n' roll reunions go, they do a very fine job honoring their legacy and those in attendance with this performance.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Eagle Entertainment brings 'Jane's Addiction – Live Voodoo' to high-definition on a BD-25 Blu-ray disc housed inside a standard blue keepcase. The disc has no advertisements and goes to the menu screen. It is reported to be Region Free.
The video is presented with 1080i/ MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The high-def cameras do a very good job capturing the band in this live, outdoor setting. Black is the prevalent color throughout, from a good portion of the equipment to parts of the band member's outfits, as the men play under the darkened night sky. Skintones look consistent when seen under white lights. Most of the color is seen in the bright light choices that flood the stage.
Details are frequently sharp, even fine items like Navarro's numerous tattoos and Farrell's wispy, lace cape. When the cameras capture the audience, a great many details are discernible. Understandably, details and the three-dimensionality get lost on occasion when the dry-ice smoke pours out and overwhelms portions of the stage. Other than slight background noise on occasion, the disc looks free of digital artifacts.
Eagle Entertainment continues to offer DTS HD Master Audio 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 (weak as always), and LPCM Stereo. The DTS track does a great job delivering the band's outstanding musical dynamics, alternating between hitting hard-rock heavy to delicately acoustic. The clarity of Farrell's vocals fluctuate in the mix, but it more likely stems from his running around rather than a technical issue with the audio track.
The main thrust is from the fronts with very good support from the rears helping to immerse the listener in the experience to which the ambient crowd noise contributes. Most impressive sounding and a testament to his importance in the arrangements is the bass of Eric Avery. It is very powerful and on full display here in the mix without overpowering the subwoofer. If you are a fan of the instrument, this disk is a must-listen.
Although you can never say never when it comes to the music industry, as David Lee Roth proves with Van Halen, this recent venture seems like it will be the last time Jane's Addiction's original foursome will ever experiment together. Unfortunate as that may be for fans, the talent on display during 'Live Voodoo' will remind them to be thankful for what they have had. One of the better reunion tours is on display here because they don't seem like they've just "cashed in now, honey". I don't deny having a bias, but I highly recommend rock music fans get this for themselves, even if they "don't want to pay for it."