When Jane's Addiction called it quits in 1991, I reacted the way most fans did : the sinking feeling that modern music was losing its darkest, grittiest, artistic voice.
It wasn't surprising that the announcement of their "Relapse" tour created one of the maddest scramble for tickets in recent history. Houston wasn't included in the original plans for the tour but was hastily added on. The show sold out in just five minutes.
Jane's Addiction made its name by playing small, volatile venues, so the pristine, shopping mall-esque Aerial Theater at Bayou Place seemed poised to be de-virginized by Farrell's sinister stage design.
He utilized his traditional motif of Christmas lights and Pagan god statues, but this time he added a Tahitian prom theme complete with towering tropical plants, thatched staging and platforms that housed voluptuous dancers.
The eager crowd was greeted with mammoth renditions of "Stop" and "Then She Did" from Ritual de lo Habitual.
"Then She Did" was immense, but it was "Stop" that initiated the frenetic mosh pit that seldom let up. Guitarist Dave Navarro, bare-breasted and perched atop his speaker in fishnet stockings and a leather miniskirt, churned out his unforgiving power chords and squealing solos, while drummer Stephen Perkins created a surging, thunderous backbeat.
Bassist Flea, on break from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, provided the perfect compliment to Navarro and Perkins. His frantic energy was a welcome addition to the lineup, as original bassist Eric Avery chose not to rejoin the group for the tour.
Flea rarely slapped or popped through his lines, his signature style, in his effort to stay true to the Jane's sound. Only in a lineup that boasted Farrell and Navarro would Flea be an afterthought.
Farrell played the maniacal ringleader, leading the crowd in sing-a-longs and gulping down expensive bottles of wine. He shrieked through "Mountain Song" and "Ain't No Right."
With hair coiled out in a perfect match to his exotic shrubbery, Farrell stripped off his cowboy shirt and gyrated through each song. He disappeared, then flashed the upper balcony with a spotlight as he sang his trippy, heroin-laced "Summertime Rolls," and his exotically evil dancers swayed and teased, creating a perversely tantalizing ballet.
Farrell and the band then sneaked to a previously-ignored back stage. They went acoustic for the crowd-pleasing "Jane Says" and "Classic Girl," which Farrell dedicated to the women in the audience, who ceremoniously created a wave for a starstruck female fan. Farrell then paid homage to his past, admitting his love for playing live and cocaine while creating the perfect segue for his tribute to heroin, the percussion-charged "Chip Away," in which Navarro, Flea and Perkins banged drums in unison.
For new fans, the show was a shocking introduction to a band that perhaps was too innovative for its own good. For old fans, it was a biting reminder of the past, as Jane's Addiction came, teased, inspired and left, with only the Wizard of Oz's "Over the Rainbow" as consolation.