The performative showmanship of legendary musician Perry Farrell is as enchanting as it is laudatory. The world was first introduced to him as the frontman of Jane’s Addiction, the immortal California quartet that helped define — and sustain — alternative rock in the early-’90s. Their 1988 debut album Nothing’s Shocking not only produced hits like “Jane Says” and “Mountain Song,” it managed to lionize Farrell as both a compelling storyteller and vocalist.
His other iterations, including Porno for Pyros, Satellite Party, and a sporadic solo career have garnered success because Farrell remains nestled as their epicenter; his undeniable talent has always attracted listeners but his charisma keeps them thoroughly engaged. His latest project, Kind Heaven, doesn’t let up on Farrell’s candidness nor does it force it him to compete with his contemporaries.
At just nine tracks long, we are able to still see him for exactly who he is. Farrell remains fascinated by both corporeality and consciousness while embracing his idiosyncrasies. He dubbed his latest string of shows as the “Orchestra Tour” and made it a point to have a two-night stand at Boston’s City Winery this past Monday and Tuesday (June 10 and June 11). And despite the title of the tour, there was nothing conventional about it.
“Most people my age go out and just do the hits — I don’t know how to do that,” Farrell confessed Monday night to a packed crowd who graciously took his words to heart. As he glided through a set that combined his newest material with familiar gems, he was as sincere and seductive as ever. “Pirate Punk Politician” was cutting in both its lyricism and delivery; “Machine Girl” was his fun and unorthodox take on a love song. Some of his Porno for Pyros material was revealed early on in the night and served as a surprising jolt for those who have followed Farrell’s expansive discography closely over the years.
“Pets” and “Tahitian Moon” are still as wiry and emphatic as when they were released. Farrell even made it a point to pay homage to Iggy Pop and referred to him as “one of the greatest poets in American history” before diving into his cover of “I Got a Right.”
His renditions of Jane’s Addiction classics, like the aforementioned “Jane Says” and MTV favorite “Been Caught Stealin'”, displayed Farrell’s depth and unmitigated sagacity. They were also the perfect way to end out an evening that was dedicated to history, dedication and growth.
It was obvious that Farrell relishes in his mythological status and he rightfully should — the man has worked nonstop for 35 years to achieve it.