There's a thin line between being timeless and being dated -- and Friday night at West Palm Beach's Cruzan Amphitheatre, at the opening date of their 22-date joint U.S. tour, Jane's Addiction and Nine Inch Nails fell on decidedly opposite sides of that line. (See a photo gallery of the show here.)
First up, NIN, who, says frontman Trent Reznor, are now out on their last tour ever. Reznor's merry group of industrial strength head-bangers have been diligently dropping records since their birth in 1989, totaling eight studio full-lengths. And live they've got the cohesion and the power of a band who want to continue to prove something, despite -- or perhaps because of -- their success.
In front of 19,000 fans at the Cruzan, NIN proved something all right: That there's always going to be a place on stage for men who bleed volume. Reznor, buff as a gym rat and still madder than a hatter, led his band through a set of rarities, B-sides, and hits. Among the many highlights: their re-working of the Bowie/Eno tune "I'm Afraid of Americans," a suitably thrashing version of "March of the Pigs," and an almost touching, torchful "The Fragile," which is about the closest thing these guys get to a love song.
Unfortunately, something went amiss at set's end, and the expected trilogy of "Hand," "Head," and "Hurt" only got two-thirds in before Trent trashed his mic stand and stormed off the stage, never to return.
Jane's Addiction, in contrast, was like a band that can't stand each other. The animosity is especially evident between singer Perry Farrell and guitarist Dave Navarro, who did everything to show each other up. Perry posed stage left; Dave did likewise. Farrell mounted a monitor; there went Navarro. That the two didn't come to blows is a miracle of modern rock -- or perhaps testament to that calming bottle of Merlot Farrell was swiggin' throughout the set.
Unlike NIN, Jane's has very few LPs to cull from (four). Yes, they have their two big hits, "Been Caught Stealing" and "Jane Says," the former which was buried mid-set while the latter was -- shocker! -- the set closer. But they also have torrid tracks like "Mountain Song" and "Stop," which seem built for stadium sing-alongs -- if, that is, the crowd is in that happy place between crack-frenzy and heroin nod. Luckily, the fans were... if only for those two tracks.
With Farrell draped in silk and twirling like a Dervish, and Navarro stripped down to his tats, unleashing his own inner Narcissus, it was as if it was 1991 all over again and everyone was high on song. Or, of course, kinda like Lollapalooza '91, which was the last time these two behemoths shared a stage. But, as thye say, good things don't last -- this was just a few moments in the Jane's overlong 90-minute set.
Sure, NIN say this is the end of their days on the road, and Jane's Addiction insist we welcome them back. But, from the look of things on opening night, odds are the script will get flipped before this tour's over. Let's just hope it's before Farrell and Navarro kill each other.