Ever since the band's Utah debut at the old Utah Fair Park Coliseum, supporting the now-25-years-old Nothing's Shocking, Jane's Addiction has become a bit of a white whale for me.
Through their successful (commercially, if not musically) follow-up, Ritual de lo Habitual, and invention of the Lollapalooza festival, the Los Angeles quartet was the arguably the most significant band on the planet for a brief window of the early '90s. Since then, though, they've mostly been on hiatus, getting together for a couple of albums of new material in the past two decades, and more-regular reunion tours that trade on the incredible good will the band built up during their initial burst into the public eye.
That good will is what drew me to Usana Amphitheatre Monday night, for an appearance by Jane's Addiction at the Uproar Festival that also featured fellow early '90s refugees Alice in Chains as well as younger, more creatively active acts like Danko Jones and Coheed & Cambria.
For their one hour on stage, Jane's Addiction proved well worth the effort of braving a decidedly metal-tinged festival and the drive to West Valley City for a run through some of Jane's Addiction's best. After starting with "Underground" from their 2012 release, the largely forgettable The Great Escape Artist, Perry Farrell and Co. wisely got down to the older songs that made their reputation.
"Mountain Song" led into another "new" song, "Just Because" from the band's 2003 effort, Strays. And while that track is a better representation of the band than virtually anything from their album from last year, it paled in comparison to its follow-up, "Standing in a Shower, Thinking."
"Been Caught Stealing" incorporated a bit of Farrell scatting about "wide open spaces" while guitarist Dave Navarro, drummer Stephen Perkins and bassist Chris Chaney vamped through some jazzy improvisation. That loosening up by both band and fans helped the new "Another Soulmate" go down better than much of the newer Jane's material, while Ritual's epic journey of "Three Days" managed to capture all the over-stuffed grandeur of the original version.
After the expansive "Three Days," the show's final burst was an energetic blast, starting with the booming "Ocean Size" and moving through "Stop!," the percussion-heavy "Chip Away" and the set-closing acoustic take on "Jane Says."
Was the set predictable? Sure. Was Farrell in his best vocal form? Not really, whether due to the desert climate or merely the natural effect of aging. Were the "new" songs as good as the classics from Nothing's Shocking and Ritual? Of course not.
Even so, Jane's Addiction delivered a memorable burst of nostalgia that was far more effective than the Alice in Chains set that followed, and far more listenable than the Coheed & Cambria prog-metal excursion that preceded them. I've been wanting to see them every time I've had the chance since that Utah State Fair Park show roughly 25 years ago, and Monday's show proved that is not such a bad plan, all these years later.