1991. Not only was the last time Jane’s Addiction and Nine Inch Nails shared the stage, but it was also the last time all four original (or most popular) members of JA toured together. This year marked the inaugural Lollapalooza tour, which was Jane’s frontman Perry Farrell’s design to send his band off in style. Fast-forward 18 years later… the ever-changing lineup finally returns in original form to front the NIN|JA tour not only to commemorate the band’s return, but this time to send Nine Inch Nails off in style. Opening for both bands is Tom Morello’s (Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave) new project Street Sweeper Social Club.
This is Tom Morello here… so you already know what it sounds like. However this time around we’re introduced to Boots Riley (The Coup) as the rapper-with-swagger replacement to Zack de la Rocha’s spastic political punch-up. Don’t worry Rage fans… Morello brought the politics with him.
But if you were expecting a new direction from Morello… this definitely is not the music for you. SSSC’s performance is nearly as energetic as any Rage show and Morello proved over and over (by playing guitar with his teeth and doing the other weird shit that he does) that he’s still got what it takes to power through a set. His frantic playing transposed over Boots Riley dancing his ass off provided a good counterpoint to what became expected from Rage. The songs however mimic the format of any/every Rage song in the band’s collection. “Alright motherfuckers! Fight motherfuckers!” is Riley’s warcry during “The Oath”… I don’t feel like I need to point out any similarities to Zack de la Rocha’s lyrics. (Okay, I will. “Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me! We gotta take the power back! Rally ‘round the family! All of which are American dreams! All of which are American dreams! All of which…”)
As easy as the inferences can be drawn, I don’t really think it’s fair to push SSSC into that box. Riley, who I’ll add looks like the lovechild of Terrence Howard and Ludacris (with massive sideburns), was supremely relaxed during each song. He clearly has a much stronger hip-hop influence than de la Rocha, and therefore his ‘swagger’ comes out. Musically, SSSC differs from anything Morello has ever put his name on. Back-up vocals were provided by the bassist/drummer and believe it or not, Morello and SSSC’s bassist were playing different notes.
All in all SSSC’s show was actually really good. Outside of an uncomfortable cover of MIA’s “Paper Planes” the set was entertaining. SSSC’s original material is quite a departure from the balls-out politico oft applied to Tom Morello and felt somewhat welcome during the current state of the union. To cap off the show, Perry Farrell came out to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Tom Morello and declare to the crowd “We’re all gonna get laid tonight!” That came as extremely good news to me.
You can check out said original material when Street Sweeper Social Club’s self-titled album comes out on June 16th.
NIN’s Trent Reznor has titled this tour the band’s ‘Wave Goodbye’ tour, and what a shame that is. Not only was NIN’s set one of the most powerful performances I have ever seen… but Reznor did right by his fans by playing a wide range of the band’s extensive catalog as opposed to focusing solely on recent material (full setlist below).
To begin, Reznor came out wearing short-shorts. As un-dude as that seems to the non-rabid fan, it’s probably a throwback to his wardrobe at the 1991 Lollapalooza tour that made NIN a household name. With no words for the crowd, the band eased into the rarity “Home” (from the single for “The Hand that Feeds”) and powered directly into recent track “1,000,000” (from last years The Slip). So it began.
“We’re playing some weird shit tonight,” Reznor declared before The Downward Spiral’s “I Do Not Want This”. Here, Reznor and guitarist Robin Finck played dueling pianos… just a hint of the “weird shit” that was referred to earlier. A tambourine eventually joined the fold during Year Zero’s “The Good Soldier”, which as un-dude as that may seem it was extremely badass. Just picture… Trent Reznor, once frail but now built like a professional wrestler, wielding a tambourine against his microphone stand. That pleases me.
Incredible set, complete with an impromptu thunderstorm during The Downward Spiral’s title track, my night was fully realized before the headliner. Reznor says he is done with touring but not with music. Thank God. The last few NIN records have been varied and well produced, and I love a musician that is smart enough to hang up the touring shoes before it becomes a joke. I mean… this isn’t Dylan or Tom Petty here. This is Nine Inch Nails. The idea of Trent Reznor saying “I want to fuck you like an animal” in public at age 65 is not a good one. Obviously he realizes that, and went out like a champ.
Jane’s Addiction. Perry Farrell should possibly take a cue from Trent Reznor. While the 20+ year old Jane’s catalog oddly held up… the performance simply just could not. Bassist Eric Avery, the lone reunion holdout for years, still appeared as if he hated everyone. Farrell’s vocals may not have been able to cut it, because nearly every track performed was augmented to lower tones to fit to the range of his older voice. But guitarist/socialite Dave Navarro and drummer Stephen Perkins came to party… so let’s start saying good things.
I really only wanted to hear Jane’s classic “Three Days” at some point… and this was performed first thing. So I was a happy boy. It didn’t take long to realize that the song had been toned down and the tempo decelerated, but right around that time Dave Navarro turned up and proved to everyone how much they suck at everything. This got me pretty hyped, and this was just the beginning of a classic-filled set (partial setlist below).
The format was pretty simple… for every classic Farrell belted, the band allotted Navarro twice that amount of time to show off. During these periods, Navarro and Perkins played off one another, Avery stared at his shoes, and Farrell shook maracas, danced on boxes… all kinds of other crazy bullshit.
At a certain point, you have to realize that you’re lucky to be watching a classic group of artists perform regardless of their natural shortcomings. I wish I could say Jane’s Addiction hasn’t missed a beat, but as with many other artists, that is unfortunately not true. However, even with the level of energy unmatchable, it was great to hear songs that I love so much performed live. Some people have waited nearly 20 years to see this show. I only had to wait a few. It was well worth it.
I did not get laid that night.
Full NIN setlist
March of the Pigs
Piggy (Nothing Can Stop Me Now)
Meet Your Master
I Do Not Want This
The Downward Spiral
Mr. Self Destruct
Physical (You’re So)
The Good Soldier
The Hand that Feeds
Head Like a Hole
Partial Jane’s Addiction setlist
Ain’t No Right
Pigs in Zen
Had a Dad
Been Caught Stealing
Ted, Just Admit It
more pics below the break…
Nine Inch Nails