Perry Farrell's Kind Heaven Orchestra Mod Club Theatre, Toronto ON, June 25
Published Jun 26, 2019Perry Farrell has always had a flair for the theatrical. This is, after all, the guy who founded Lollapalooza, who staged carnival-esque arena tours with his band Jane's Addiction, and is developing an immersive VR show in Las Vegas.
Even at this relatively intimate club gig with his band the Kind Heaven Orchestra, Farrell brought his usual sense of drama. There was no opening act, so he swaggered on stage at the civilized hour of 8:30, wearing an enormous floppy hat, open vest and one enormous puffy sleeve. He looked like some sort of a swashbuckling Shakespeare character, while his wife Etty Lau Farrell flanked him wearing a silky red negligee.
The couple danced together adorably, trading off vocals and lightly teasing one another throughout. Things went hilariously awry in the very first song, however, as the couple attempted to perform a dramatic dip, but tripped and went crashing to the floor.
It was a partly embarrassing, partly charming moment that set the tone for a night that offered plenty of silly energy and absolutely no rock'n'roll grit whatsoever.
The Farrells had perma-grins plastered on their faces as they shimmied their way through this year's Kind Heaven album, occasionally pulling out a crowd-pleasing back catalogue cut by Jane's Addiction or Porno for Pyros. The arrangements were handled by a nine-piece backing band, which included three backing singers performing some corny choreography — including pretending to be cats during "Pets" and doing luau dances during "Tahitian Moon." It was all very on-the-nose.
Naturally, the Jane's Addiction tunes earned the biggest response: "Jane Says" was a mid-set sing-along for the Gen X-ers, while the funky "Been Caught Stealing" rounded out the main set, and the heavy "Mountain Song" was saved for the encore. As good as these songs were, Farrell's giddy mood was better suited to industrial-tinged solo cuts like "Pirate Punk Politician" and "Machine Girl," or the lovestruck pop of "One."
The show was done before 10 p.m., leaving plenty of time for everyone to get home to the babysitter. And it ended just like any theatrical performance should: with all 11 musicians lined up, arm in arm, taking a deep synchronized bow while being regaled with applause. It might not have been a particularly thrilling rock show, but Farrell is definitely one hell of a Vegas performer.