Jane's Addiction had special reason to celebrate Cinco de Mayo on Wednesday night, performing for the first time with new bassist Duff McKagan for an intimate crowd of fans and friends in Hollywood. The quick seven-song set unfolded on the open-air patio of the nightclub Bardot, amid the Mexican décor of piñatas and sombreros, and revealed one new song, a seething, beverage-fueled "Soulmate."
"We had so many shots," a swaggering, smiling Perry Farrell told a small, but packed audience, "we thought we'd be reckless and play a new one for you." Fan footage of the fresh track is up on YouTube.
The rest of the set was mostly made up of Jane's Addiction classics from the band's first two studio albums (1988's Nothing's Shocking and 1990's Ritual de lo Habitual), beginning with an anxious "Stop," as Farrell wailed and danced with a wine bottle in his hand, stepping back as fans sang along to the a cappella passage, "Turn off that smokestack/and that goddamn radio/Hum along with me."
On his left stood McKagan in a black pinstriped vest and with "Soljer" scrawled across his bass, his tough, gloomy rhythms locked tight with drummer Stephen Perkins. The former bassist from Guns n' Roses and Velvet Revolver quietly joined Jane's early this year after the exit of founding member Eric Avery, and the band has been in rehearsals ever since, writing material for a new album aimed for release next year.
Gn'R and Jane's Addiction rose from adjacent corners of the mid-'80s hard-rock scenes of Los Angeles, and both were veterans of the notorious and influential underground club the Scream. Onstage with Jane's in 2010, McKagan set a thick, watery bassline against Navarro's speedy solo on "Whores" (from 1987), and it sounded like a collaboration built to last.
The quartet ignited the epic thunder and swirl of "Mountain Song," though there was little room on the tiny stage for the band to physically stretch out, only inches away from guests that included Tom Morello and Matt Sorum. Navarro removed his shirt for "Had a Dad," ripping up a churning riff as Farrell shimmied center stage.
The band paused for a moment to sing "Happy Birthday" and present a cake to McKagan's wife, Susan Holmes. There was soon an explosion of confetti as the band launched into a charged "Pigs in Zen" from Nothing's Shocking. "In this tiny room, I feel an ocean of love," said Farrell, standing in the ancient Hollywood structure (also home to the Avalon theater), the site of Jane's shows during the late '80s and early '90s. "Let's get in touch with our roots, eh, Mr. Navarro?"
Jane's then erupted against the Zeppelin-esque sweep of "Ocean Size," with sounds soaring and swelling, and Farrell pointing up and then falling to his knees like a crashing wave. As the song came to an end, Farrell signed off by praising his venue's vintage, Spanish-style architecture. "It's one of the great structures in California," Farrell said, proudly reconnecting his history with the building's pop music past, stretching from Sinatra to Nirvana. "Elvis has hung out in this place, and now you have too."
"Had a Dad"
"Ain't No Right"