Jane’s Addiction: Nothing’s Shocking
You can learn a lot in the mosh pit at a Jane’s Addiction concert.
While it’s not necessarily the place for networking and LinkedIn connections, it’s a spectacular gathering of like minded music fans who had descended on the Ogden Theater on Colfax Avenue in Denver for the band’s rendition of their 1988 album, “Nothing’s Shocking.”
The irony to this is that the entire evening was shocking. Standing less than 10 yards away from Perry Farrell was ridiculously shocking. Hearing the group that was part of my teenage years and high school soundtrack play a live show of an epic album was very much shocking. Being reminded that Dave Navarro is what a rockstar should look like from head to toe and complete with those quintessential accessories of a guitar hero was nothing less than…shocking.
Being a 42-year old in the pit was a first-hand look at what I envisioned it would be like as an extra in Fight Club. For all I know, Edward Norton and Brad Pitt could have been in one of those scrums during Ocean Size or Mountain Song. It was nuts out there.
When discussions come up about the great frontmen in music history, I don’t know why Farrell isn’t one of the first names that rolls off the tongue. Moving forward, I will definitely be leading that panel. This guy was engaged to the sold out theater the moment he hit the stage. He shook more hands than Governor Hickenlooper. The way he glides across the stage is so seamless that you’re half looking for strings and pulleys. If he wanted to win “Dancing With The Stars,” he could do so with little effort. With the moves of a matador, he led the crowd from the first note to the last.
If you need a refresher course on “Nothing’s Shocking,” it’s the album responsible for producing perhaps the band’s most notable hit in Jane Says but to limit it to that broad a stroke would be ignorant and novice. It’s been lauded as #312 on Rolling Stone‘s “500 Greatest Albums of All-Time.” Nothing’s Shocking is also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.
The setlist, as expected, mirrored the album…Up The Beach; Ocean Size; Had a Dad; Ted, Just Admit It; Standing in the Shower…Thinking; Summertime Rolls; Mountain Song; Idiots Rule; Jane Says; Pigs in Zen.
The encore included Been Caught Stealing from their 1990 album, Ritual de lo Habitual; Just Because, the first single from their third album, Strays in 2003; and Stop!, also from Ritual de lo Habitual.
The songwriting process for Nothing’s Shocking varied from song to song. Navarro noted, “Some came from Eric’s bass lines, some from guitar, some came from Perry, some came from drum riffs, and some just came from free-form jams. There was really no formula.” Eric Avery wrote several songs, including “Mountain Song”, “Had a Dad”, “Jane Says”, and “Summertime Rolls” (the latter two of which he also created the guitar parts for). With his songs, Avery came up with conceptual ideas for lyrics that Perry Farrell would then create the actual lyrics for; for example, “Had a Dad” dealt with Avery discovering he had a different biological father.
Several of the tracks on the album originally appeared on other releases. “Jane Says” and “Pig’s in Zen” were taken from the band’s 1987 debut Jane’s Addiction. They were re-recorded, however, for Nothing’s Shocking and feature some differences from their original versions. The Nothing’s Shocking version of “Jane Says” features a steel drum while the spoken word interlude in “Pig’s in Zen” is completely different from the original.
“Mountain Song” was another song not originally recorded for Nothing’s Shocking, having been previously recorded and released in 1986 on the soundtrack to the film Dudes. Like “Jane Says” and “Pig’s in Zen,” it was re-recorded for the album. Musically it is similar to the original version, but the lyrics are sung in a higher key as to be consistent with the rest of the record. The 1986 original eventually saw a more widespread release when it was included on the band’s 1997 out-take/alternate cut/live & new track compilation album Kettle Whistle.
The line of the evening very well may have been Farrell’s admission after a shaky version of Jane Says, “The brownie kicked in.”
Photos by Joe Keum of Studio JK Photography.
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