Since his days fronting Jane’s Addiction, Perry Farrell has convened several other projects, including alt-rockers Porno For Pyros, concept-electronica crew Satellite Party and, now, his eponymous Kind Heaven Orchestra — a self-proclaimed “solo project” that reads more as supergroup collective. For their debut, Farrell tapped industry heavyweight Tony Visctonti — known for his work with Iggy and Bowie and T. Rex — to produce a record featuring the likes of Matt Chamberlain (of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden), Tommy Lee (of Mötley Crüe, and Pamela Anderson), the Foo Fighter’s Taylor Hawkins, plus George Harrison’s kid, the guitarist from the Cars, and two of his own compatriots from Jane’s.
It’s all a bit of a meandering, eclectic psych-pop mess, of course. That’s not a criticism, really, it just didn’t really need to be more than that. Kind Heaven is perfectly catchy, upbeat confection that, most importantly, serves as Farrell’s new street-legal strut vehicle.
A Perry Farrell performance is invariably imbued with a self-styled joie de vivre that’s flamboyant without being gaudy and Tuesday night at World Cafe Live was no exception. Big, but not bombastic. The man just looks comfortable and right in his element, as he banters casually with the crowd and with his bandmates, with an easy, infectious grin, especially when he flirts with his wife, dancer and vocalist Etty Farrell. He looks genuinely happy, and he looks as though he genuinely wants you to be, too, as he saunters along the edge of the stage to top off the cups of front-row fans from his own bottle of Charmes de Kirwan Margaux. Every appearance feels like some sort of victory lap, a celebration of life, and of a musical catalog that’s remarkably focused — maybe even surprisingly so, given that his first forays as a musician were post-punk/pre-grunge musings of which the next chance for a deluxe multi-disc rerelease will be an almost incomprehensible 40th anniversary.
At $50+ per ticket, the bargain on Tuesday night was clear: test-drive the new one, sure ok, but — be a doll and hook up some of the classics, would you? Farrell did what he always does, staging one of the best, most tastefully theatrical rock-and-roll performances you could hope to see and making it all look easy — which at an incredible 60 years old is even more of a feat than ever. While guitarist Nick Maybury scrambled to scrape together his level-best Dave-Navarro solo-shred impressions, the lithe and lanky Farrell offered up enduring favorites like “Jane Says” and the Porno’s “Pets” and “Tahitian Moon.” He also scorched a little World Cafe earth with Zep-esque Jane’s anthems like “Mountain Song” and “Ocean Size,” delivering a live show that was, as usual, equal parts big-top bazaar and dark-arts derring-do. Clocking in at just barely 90 minutes, he even got everyone home by bedtime. — JOSH PELTA-HELLER