Remember that Jane’s Addiction Show When…

I wonder if the constant ringing in my ears is from standing directly in front of too many speaker stacks? I specifically remember doing that at Blossom Music Center in 1991 watching Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction absolutely carve it up. It was the first year of Lollapalooza and I was selling bootleg t-shirts at just about every stop of the tour. Blossom in Cleveland was the latest stop.

I had listened to “Jane’s,” had a couple of their CD’s and really wanted to see them. I wasn't expecting them to set it on fire like they did. And TBH, they didn't, but Nine Inch Nails did in Detroit. Actually, Nine Inch Nails didn't either, the fans did. They lit garbage cans on fire on the lawn at Pine Knob Amphitheater and then danced around them in some sort of ritualistic conga line. Looking back, watching Trent Reznor and company sing Head Like a Hole, while seven or eight garbage cans were ablaze on the lawn, with people dancing around them, seemed totally normal and acceptable at the time.

Head like a hole. 
Black as your soul. 
I’d rather die than give you control.

And this was early in the tour.

That night in Cleveland however, I specifically remember a shirtless Farrell, center stage, leaning deeply into the crowd while an enormous Roady essentially held on to the waist of his pants, while he bellowed these lyrics from Pigs in Zen:

Oh, I know about war
But I just wanna fuck
I know about pain and suffering and being cold
But I just wanna fuck

The crowd went ape shit ballistic. The drum and bass riffs were wicked. My jaw was on the ground. I had goosebumps. Now keep in mind I’m still standing in front of the speaker stack stage left and I’m watching the crowd and I’m watching Farrell. The interplay was beyond cool. Nobody was fucking with him, they were too mesmerized. Hell, I was mesmerized. They were completely enraptured and he absolutely had them eating out of the palm of his hand. Including me.

That summer, I probably saw Jane’s Addiction play live at least five more times. Though I got tired of the songs, Jane Says and Been Caught Stealing, and some of the other staple “hits,” each show was different thanks to Perry Farrell, but the Blossom show and the interaction that he had with the audience that August night, you never forget stuff like that. It’s why we love concerts. It’s why we go. We’re waiting for moments just…like… that.

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