Jane’s Addiction hits San Francisco tonight for a performance at the Warfield, one of six dates of its California-Arizona tour that began Wednesday in Santa Cruz.
The “Theatre of the Escapists” tour, as its name suggests, is more theatrical than the big rock sound of Jane’s large venue sweeps. With rich-hued lighting and lingerie-clad carnival-style trapeze dancers overhead, the refined act maintains the power of the band’s signature sound amidst iconic imagery, while returning to the intimacy of its late 1980s club tour—minus the gimmicks and manic insanity of Perry Farrell’s dreadlocked days.
The show relies heavily reworked classic favorites like “Mountain Song” and “Been Caught Stealing” with some new material from 2011’s “The Great Escape Artist,” their first new album in seven years. The opening number on Wednesday, “Underground,” is a year-old song with a richness that feels like it’s marinated for 25 years. Even the classics sound fresh, which speaks to the strength of the original material and the way in which it’s evolved and been curated. A rebel band loses its cred if it becomes an oldies hit machine.
Three quarters of the original band is intact. Marin-raised bassist Chris Cheney seems to be settling in nicely, maintaining the band’s deep signature rumble in parallel with Dave Navarro’s lead, rather than off to the side floor-staring and circle-stomping Eric Avery-style. Drummer Stephen Perkins, as always, provides a flawless, solid anchor.
The band seems much more settled together than the uneasily reunited Jane’s that last appeared at the Warfield a decade ago. The 2012 tour omits the bright lights of that show and instead recalls the seductive ethereal quality of the 1997 Enit Festival at the Bill Graham Civic.