After a brief introduction through separate interviews of band members Perry Farrell (singer), Dave Navarro (guitar), Stephen Perkins (drums), and Chris Chaney (bassist in place of Eric Avery), Jane’s Addiction played the final slot at Jack’s 11th Show, which had them on a bill that included The Cult, Violent Femmes, and Garbage, whose touring bassist was Avery. Sadly, bridges have been burned so badly, there was no on-stage reunion. The concert, available on Blu-ray, DVD, and CD, took place at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre on September 23rd 2016, a few weeks before the venue shut down and was bulldozed. It was the second to last stop on their “Sterling Spoon Anniversary Tour,” commemorating Ritual De Lo Habitual (albeit a year late since the album came out in 1990).
The band, joined by dancing girls, played the album in order, starting with the intense “Stop!”. When they cut to the crowd chanting along with Farrell during the break, there were many fools with phones in front of their faces making a recording that won’t look this good. As “No One’s Leaving” starts, there’s a guy (Matt Rhode) on keyboards?! But it seems common for older bands to help round out their sound nowadays.
Farrell bemoans the eventual loss of Irvine Meadows before they go into “Ain’t No Right,” and shares memories of the place throughout the night. As the bass rumbles through the opening, it highlights how marvelous the variety and uniqueness of the band’s sound was, pulling from numerous sources to make their own.
Unfortunately, Farrell’s vocals are clearly affected by his age, most notable on their epic “Three Days”, but the music is so tremendous it can be overlooked. During one of Navarro’s guitar runs, Farrell picks up maracas, and it’s startling how clear they sound in the mix. When Perkins takes the lead, Taylor Hawkins briefly joins in on his kit. He had opened the event with his cover band Chevy Metal. It’s wonderful to hear lesser-played, deep cuts “Then She Did…” and “Of Course” even though the keyboards have replaced the strings, which really soften “Classic Girl”.
With the album ended, Jane’s played on with the raucous “Mountain Song”. Then for the fans who came late to the party, they play one co-written by Chaney, “Just Because”. Farrell tries to banter about news and politics, oddly surprised that in conservative Orange County, even folks that would watch Jane’s play, don’t have the same opinions about FOX News and Hillary Clinton that he does.
Thankfully, they eventually segue into “Ted, Just Admit It…”. In addition to the scantily clad women dancing on stage that accompanied most songs, Cat Decuir and Jeanelle Mastema, dressed similarly, join them, but they appear to have multiple piercings in their upper backs near their shoulder blades from which they are raised above the stage and swung about. I hope it’s an illusion because it looks damn painful, especially when one starts bleeding from them. “Jane Says” closes the night. Perkins on steel drums and some crew members sitting in. It makes for a wistful ending not only for those who had a relationship with the band and the album, but for those who have many memories of the venue as well.
First thing, I noticed with the Blu-ray is the Dolby Digital 5.1 track is so quiet. I had to crank up the tuner just to hear it, and even then, Farrell’s vocal are a bit buried. There’s good separation of the instruments and they come through with good fidelity. The surrounds have some ambiance from the audience and music and the subwoofer delivers solid bass support.
The video has been given a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC displayed at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The image is mostly in bright colors, but some cameras shot in black and white. The blacks are inky. There’s good object detail with some posterization under the intense lights.
Ritual De Lo Habitual – Alive at Twenty-Five is an enjoyable look back at a classic album and a reminder of the era. While the video is sharp, it’s odd that the audio isn’t better for a concert performance.