Jane’s Addiction And Smashing Pumpkins Deliver As ‘Spirits On Fire’ Tour Wraps Up

With combined worldwide album sales of over 35 million, Jane’s diction and Smashing Pumpkins stand as two of the more influential acts to emerge from alternative music in the 1990s.

Upon formation in 1985, Jane’s stood out as a drastic departure from what was happening around them in Los Angeles, laying the blueprint for the alt rock revolution that would follow via their unique incorporation of everything from metal to psychedelia. Seizing upon the influence, the Pumpkins would capture the zeitgeist ten years later, the diamond certified Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness a still resonant flash point.

While both acts remain baffling omissions from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, they’ve joined together to remind fans just what rock and roll can be when at its best, Jane’s in particular doubling down on the beauty of unpredictability each night during the “Spirits On Fire” tour.

“Yeah, Chicago!” said singer Perry Farrell to rapturous applause as the roadtrip hit the Windy City earlier this month. “I’m having a good time on this tour,” said the Jane’s diction and Porno For Pyros frontman on stage at United Center. “Haven’t been here since the summertime… And it’s cold as s–t!” he said with a chuckle. “But that’s alright.”

Performing as a four-piece group backed by a trio of dancers, including Farrell’s wife Etty Lau Farrell, this tour finds longtime Queens of the Stone Age guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen stepping in for Dave Navarro, who remains sidelined by a reported case of long COVID.

Shaking up the setlist a bit each night on this run – a refreshing move in an arena rock era currently dominated by bands rolling out the exact same set night in and night out – Jane’s got going in Chicago with “Up the Beach.”

The song, bolstered out of the gate by a meandering bassline, was an appropriate way to begin, with co-founding bassist Eric Avery returning to the group for the first time since 2010, cementing a return of the group’s classic lineup.

Bass launched “Whores” next, with Jane’s focusing entirely on their first three albums, celebrating Avery’s contributions throughout a carefully curated one hour set.

Farrell, 63, remains a delight in the live setting. Crouching early during “Whores,” he walked left as Van Leeuwen ripped an early solo, making his way up to the drum riser later.

The singer, still in terrific voice, has lost little of his range, leaning into the lead vocal on “Ocean Size” from beside Van Leeuwen. Bounding down from the drum riser, Farrell ran to the center of the stage, belting out “Ain’t No Right.”

“What are you drinkin,’ man?” asked Farrell of a fan in front, gin and tonic the apparent answer. Always a man of the people, the singer feigned shock later upon discovering another fan’s drink cost $15. “I don’t have any gin. But I’ve got a bottle of wine. Here’s to tonight, here’s to Chicago,” said Farrell, raising a toast. “One more on top of that: Ukraine.”

Master of the segue, the always quotable Perry Farrell proved adept at the pivot, shifting gears from Ukraine as he set up the debaucherous tale that lies at the heart of the epic “Three Days.”

“Never stop f—ing!” demanded the singer, bringing the crowd back to its feet before chipping in on percussion via a pair of shakers. The backing dancers took center stage as the group stretched out on the track.

Jane’s set on this tour has been a tour de force, focusing on their most rocking fare, barreling ahead with reckless abandon while pausing only for the occasional Farrell aside.

“Are we groovy enough?” asked the singer of the Chicago crowd following a story about buying a hat at a truck stop. “Damn right we’re groovy enough. But, on the other hand, we’re kind of folksy. We can do it all, mother f—ers!” he said, setting up “Jane Says.”

Avery moved to acoustic guitar as the group put forth one of their biggest hits, Van Leeuwen in particular, to his credit, offering up an atmospheric reworking of the track, Farrell delivering a pirouette during one of the more unique stagings of the song.

Farrell donned an almost scat-like vocal as “Stop” rang out in Chicago, Van Leeuwen driving the incisive opening guitar riff as the dancers filmed the band, that imagery appearing on the video screen behind them in real time.

“Ted, Just mit It…” gave way to the thunderous opening rumble of “Mountain Song,” Avery setting the pace as Jane’s diction headed for home.

“I’ll leave you with this,” said Farrell, pivoting again following a diatribe which set forth the virtues of spanking. “We’re not so far from getting it right. Have love in your heart,” he said. “Even a man like myself, I’ve got to stop my thievery,” said Farrell, Avery soon building a danceable groove during “Been Caught Stealing.”

Hands on his hips, Farrell looked right, bent over and shaking during a late Van Leeuwen solo. Putting his left foot up on the amp, he closed with a wave as Jane’s wrapped up.

“Hello, Chicago… You ready to rock?” asked Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha rhetorically, deadpan as always in his guise as master of ceremonies.

From the get go, the Pumpkins made the case for new music, kicking off their closing set with “Empires,” a track from their sprawling forthcoming studio effort ATUM (now available for pre-order ahead of full release this April). Singer, guitarist and songwriter Billy Corgan has connected the new 33 track project, a rock opera in three acts, to both Mellon Collie and the group’s 2000 effort Machina, dubbing their 12th album a concept sequel.

The Pumpkins set was delivered amidst a stunning light show, the group slowing things down early following “Today” as they put forth the Mellon Collie deep cut “We Only Come Out at Night.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the rock show,” said Corgan, pausing during “Eye.” “It’s so great to be home.”

Machina has long been one of the more underrated installments in the Pumpkins catalog and from it, “Stand Inside Your Love” and “I of the Mourning” have come back to back throughout this tour, highlights in Chicago which gave way to Siamese Dream standout “Cherub Rock,” featuring the still pummeling alt rock assault of drummer Jimmy Chamberlin.

“Zero” was preceded by excerpts of Ted Nugent (“Stranglehold”) and Rush (“Fly By Night”) and “Silver F–k” featured a guest spot by Grammy winning, Chicago-based saxophonist Frank Catalano, Corgan’s family taking the stage during the latest Pumpkins single “Beguiled.”

“James, how are you doing?” asked Corgan of the guitarist. “We’re in our hometown,” he continued, setting up the duo’s standout acoustic take on “Tonight Tonight.” “We’d like to thank you for 34 years of the Smashing Pumpkins.”

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