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January 15, 2009, seems like forever ago, but in that issue, I wrote a column about my bucket list of concerts. One of the bands that I’d always wanted to see — though my parents wouldn’t let me go to a show — was Jane’s Addiction. Mom and Dad forbade it. Not because their lyrics were too offensive per se, but because to Cleveland parents, these four Hollywood vampires weren’t the best role models for their baby boy.
Back in the middle 1980s and early ’90s, there wasn’t a single one among us boys at University School in Shaker Heights, Ohio, who didn’t wish we lived in L.A. because of Jane’s ?Addiction. Lead singer Perry Farrell embodied that chic ?underground-frontman persona that we emulated, and guitarist Dave Navarro exemplified the look that the all-boys University School student body wished it had. The two were mysterious and dark, and the girls liked them. Yes, Jane’s Addiction was the height of coolness. Then they broke up. Then they got back together. Then they broke up. Now they’re back together.
Over time, I’ve met similar like-minded individuals who had similar childhoods in their own Midwestern towns. Like my buddy Jeff. The boys at his junior high and high school in Topeka, Kan., sounded a lot like us Clevelanders. And my buddy Gavin related similar stories about the boys at his junior high and high school in Wichita, Kan. I formulated a thesis that any male who grew up in the Midwest between 1985 and 1991 had a tremendous amount of Los Angeles wanderlust because of Jane’s Addiction. But none of us ever saw them live because our parents wouldn’t let us.
Here we are in 2012, and the band is back on the road. But Perry Farrell is now 53 years old, and Dave Navarro is 45. Surely they’re no longer the spry rock stars that took Sunset Boulevard’s Whisky A Go Go by storm 25 years ago. Besides, I seriously got into Jane’s when I was 14. I’m now 35. I’m no longer single with toys; I’m married with children. And still, nostalgia’s tractor beam pulled Jeff, Gavin and me to the concert in Dallas, where we all live now.
Everything about the night was bizarre. For starters, the venue was the McFarlin Auditorium. For you Dallas locals, you read that right: McFarlin Auditorium on the campus of Southern Methodist University. Hardly the proper venue for Hollywood vampires. Then there was the audience. Most of them were like us — lots of dudes in their 30s and 40s. But there was a solid representation of college kids. “I knew your parents!” Perry Farrell joked to them from the stage. “They used to have green hair and wear Doc Martens!”
Folks, I’m here to tell you that Perry Farrell is better than ever. Not only does he still have that famously wry sense of humor, but both he and Dave Navarro sound better at 53 and 45 than they ever did at 30 and 22, respectively. Their bodies were more sculpted and they were in better shape than anyone on SMU’s campus, football team included. Despite the freakishly unfreaky venue, this concert was one of the best I’ve ever seen, and I left actually being glad that I didn’t see Jane’s when I was a younger lad. They proved to me, to Jeff and Gavin, and to every current and wannabe rock star that age is relative. All you younger musicians out there — all you children — should catch a Jane’s Addiction concert to see how it’s done, ’cause these guys are still the real deal. They are to music and pageantry what Dan Aykroyd is to acting and vodka (sounds strange, but turn to page 32 to see what I mean).
I can finally check a Jane’s Addiction concert off my bucket list. I can also relate to what my parents went through when I harangued them to let me go see Jane’s in concert: I can relate to what Jeff’s and Gavin’s parents went through; I can relate to what every parent of every guy in the Midwest between the years 1985 and 1991 went through. Because as a father, I can guarantee you this: There’s absolutely no way I’m ever letting my children go to a Jane’s Addiction concert, even when they’re 35 and 32 and Perry and Dave are 82 and 74, respectively.