TVD Live Shots: Jane’s Addiction, Living Colour, and Dinosaur Jr. at the Fillmore, 7/20

I was excited to attend and photograph this show for a few reasons. First, it meant a road trip from DC to Philly. I love road trips. Second, I’d enjoy a cheese steak. And third, I’d get some quality photo time mere feet away from Dave Navarro, a talented and beautiful man.

Everything was going according to plan until I arrived at the venue. The tour management made some last-minute changes. The security barrier near the stage was removed, so there would be no up-close photography, which meant no seducing Dave from the photo pit. Alas. On top of that, photography was limited to the sound board, which was not elevated. The other photographers left. They were either too short to even attempt to shoot over people’s heads from the back or they didn’t have a big lens. I doubled down, determined to make it work.

Living Colour opened and they sounded great. They were very clearly enjoying themselves and in turn, the crowd was engaged and feeling it. I had to stop shooting after the third song and instead of watching the rest of their set, I put on my hustling shoes and tried to work with various members of the Fillmore event crew to finagle a better spot to shoot. A fellow named Eric was particularly helpful, trying to find me at least a stool to stand on. No dice. I gave up and returned to see the last song, “Cult of Personality.” It sounded exactly the way I wanted it to. Tight musicianship, dynamite vocals.

Dinosaur Jr. was up next and my first thought was that they were a really odd choice to go between Living Colour and Jane’s. Despite the wild and entertaining body english of bassist Lou Barlow, the energy was really low-key. It didn’t help that J Mascis’s mic seemed to be low. It was like they missed sound check. Afterwards a woman commented that their music made her skin hurt. Harsh. They kept their set short and finished strong with a cover of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven.”

I ventured outside to the vast smoking area and made my way to the far corner for some fresh air. This was not to last, for moments later a group of three 40-something guys ambled up and lit a joint. The ringleader proclaimed he was so relieved that he hadn’t brought his coke because the metal detectors would’ve picked up on it. Okay. Moments later security was pushing through the crowd towards us, but not for us. Apparently a couple of meth-heads were trying to jump the barricade and get in. This scene very much made up for the lackluster Dinosaur Jr. set.

Finally, Jane’s Addiction. I’d never seen them live so I had no idea that sexy dancers were a staple of their show. My my, were they a sight for sore eyes. “Stop!” opened the set and it was exactly what I wanted to see and hear. It was explosive and the crowd was pumped. Sadly, I thought it was the best part of their set. “No One’s Leaving” came across as a little sloppy and then the show seemed to go off the rails with “Ain’t No Right.” The vocals would be challenging for any singer but Perry Farrell just couldn’t get there.

I don’t expect lead singers to sound perfect all the time but I was so bummed that Farrell just didn’t seem to have the chops. During “Just Because” he clenched his right fist as if he was trying to physically will himself into the high notes. It didn’t work. And I could have forgiven that but he was routinely off-key. This marred the whole set. For instance, the instrumental-heavy “Then She Did” could have been a really powerful choice if there was a general confidence in the vocals. Instead it felt like it rambled and the energy in the room dipped hard.

Farrell is undeniably a magnetic lead singer and that buoyed his overall presence. He was having fun on stage and he reveled in the love from the audience. The lack of a security barrier added a degree of intimacy and it definitely helped a fan hand Farrell a joint.

Before “Jane Says,” their final song, Farrell lit said joint. He talked about sleeping in a Winnebago and walking around in his underwear. The life of a musician, he said. And then the audience pretty much carried the song, hitting all the notes he couldn’t.

My favorite part of the show was the dancers. They were all over the stage, dancing for their lives, undressing each other, and swinging by their skin from meat hooks. Captivating and seductive, they stole the show. Especially the one with long blonde hair. Wow.

Was it worth the trip? Yes. Was I disappointed? Yes. But Dave looked great.

LIVING COLOUR

DINOSAUR JR

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