Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Jane's Addiction: "Live In NYC" (album review)

It's been a couple of years since we got a studio album from Jane's Addiction, so it was just about time for the stop-gap live record which was released this week.  This collection, a DVD and companion CD, were recorded live in New York City, hence the descriptive title Live In NYC.

For me, crowd noise, interaction, and stage banter are key elements of a good live record.  Live In NYC checks those boxes with an exuberant audience and Perry Farrell providing introductions to each song, while pandering ever-so-slightly to the fans.  His sideshow antics are truly delightful.

There's very little to complain about in the set list.  It's pretty well constructed, focusing on the songs that fans truly want to hear.  Sure, we do get the post-reunion numbers "Just Because" and "Irresistible Force", but they are both terribly under-rated.  "Just Because" is a guitar work showcase, while "Irresistible Object" is sweeping and grand.

The sound evolution of the reunited band has mixed results when applied to their older material.  The bigger, more fleshed out sound takes "Ain't No Right" to a new level.  On "Been Caught Stealing", the echo-filled vocals and additional layers create a gigantic mess.

I never liked "Three Days" much as an album track, so it's no surprise that it's among the weakest moments for me on the live album.  So it's no surprise that the 11:00-plus minute track would be my suggested bathroom break.  The sprawling "Ted, Just Admit It..." on the contrary, manages to hold up through it's entire run.

Strangely, the standout of the set is "Ocean Size".  It's always been a decent number, but not one of Jane's best.  This rendition, however, is absolutely thunderous.

With vocals that are difficult to hear, "Jane Says" was on it's way to being a disappointing flop.  Steel drums and a cool audience vibe bring it back from the brink.

Live In NYC isn't a fabulous live record, but in listening to it you can hear that the DVD would be a much greater experience.

Jane's Addiction play the Molson Ampitheatre in Toronto on August 20th.

Best tracks: "Ocean Size", "Just Because"

Track listing for Live In NYC:
  • Whores
  • Ain't No Right
  • Just Because
  • Ted, Just Admit It...
  • Been Caught Stealing
  • Irresistible Force
  • Up the Beach
  • Ocean Size
  • Three Days
  • Mountain Song
  • Stop!
  • Jane Says

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