Live Concert Photography: Perry Farrell and The Kind of Heaven Orchestra at City Winery 6/7/19
Born Peretz Bernstein in Jamaica, Queens, NYC, Perry Farrell is a singer/songwriter, musician and DJ best known as the frontman of Jane’s Addiction, Porno for Pyros and Satellite Party and for being the founder of Lollapalooza.
After graduating from high school, a young Farrell relocated to Los Angeles in the early 1980s to be a surfer. He made money working construction and waiting tables when he joined post-punk act Psi Com. Interestingly, he began traveling in a larger community of local musicians that included X, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Fishbone and Minutemen. When Psi Com broke up, Farrell met Eric Avery through mutual friends. The duo began jam sessions that eventually lead to the formation of Jane’s Addiction. During that same period Farrell chose his pseudonym as a play on the word “peripheral.”
Comprised of Farrell, Avery (bass), Dave Navarro (guitar), Stephen Perkins (drums) and Chris Chaney (bass), the members of Jane’s Addiction made a name for themselves by building a rabid fanbase with high-energy shows across the Los Angeles area, eventually releasing three albums — 1987’s self-titled live album, 1988’s critically applauded and commercially successful full-length debut Nothing’s Shocking (the album peaked at #103 on the Billboard 200 with “Jane Says” landing at #6 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks Charts) and 1990’s Ritual de lo Habitual, an effort that’s certified double platinum as a result of hit singles “Been Caught Stealing” and “Stop!”
By late 1991, Jane’s Addiction broke up, primarily over drug use — most notably, Farrell’s severe heroin addiction. At the time, Lollapalooza was dreamed up as a farewell tour to the band. Following Jane’s Addiction’s breakup, Farrell formed Porno for Pyros with former bandmate Stephen Perkins, as well as Peter DiStefano (guitar) and Martyn LeNoble (bass) — and the band wound up releasing two albums together, 1993’s self-titled album and 1996’s Good God’s Urge.
In 1997, Jane’s Addiction released Kettle Whistle, a rarities album featuring four new songs, and a reunited band with Flea on bass went on a reunion tour to support the album.
Interestingly, Farrell has sometimes been credited with changing the fortunes of the Coachella Festival. Following the festival’s disastrous inaugural year in 1999, the festival’s organizers didn’t hold the festival in 2000. In 2001, the decision was made to organize the festival again but a few months before the festival was to occur, they didn’t have a major headliner. As it turned out, Farrell was friends with the festival’s organizers and he decided to reunite Jane’s Addiction for the 2001 edition. Their reunion helped draw huge crowds and helped the festival yield a profit; in fact, this was the start of annual Coachella tradition, in which one major act reunited every year.
Jane’s Addiction continued to tour in 2001 and by 2003 they released Strays, arguably one of their best-selling albums as it certified gold in the States and silver in the UK. They went on an extensive tour throughout North America and Europe, which also included bringing back Lollapalooza and sets at that year’s Big Day Out Festivals in Australia and New Zealand. Continued internal issues resulted in the band breaking up again in early 2004 with a “Best Of” compilation, Up from the Catacombs being released in 2006.
2008’s US edition of the NME Awards saw the original Jane’s Addiction lineup playing together for the first time in 17 years, which they followed up with two intimate shows in Los Angeles. The following year, they played that year’s SXSW and went on a summer tour with Nine Inch Nails. Avery left the band again in late 2009, leaving Farrell, Navarro and Perkins as the core members of the band. TV on the Radio‘s Dave Sitek joined the band, playing bass on 2011’s The Great Escape Artist — and they’ve managed to periodically tour since then.
Farrell can trace the origins of his solo career back to 1999 with the release of that year’s rev, a compilation featuring material from his previous two bands and two solo songs and in 2001, he released his solo debut, Songs Yet to Be Sung, which was inspired by the Kabballah. He along with his second wife, Etty Lau Farrell started The Satellite Party, a new band/theatrical entity centered around the story of a fictional band called The Solutionists, who are trying to change the word. The band’s full-length debut, 2007’s Ultra Payloaded featured guest spots from Red Hot Chili Peppers’ John Frusciante and Flea, electronic music producers Hybrid, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ and Pearl Jam‘s Jack Irons, Joy Division and New Order‘s Peter Hook and The Black Eyed Peas‘ Fergie.
Released last week, the Tony Visconti-co-produced Kind Heaven is the first full-length album of material from Farrell in over a decade. The album features guest spots from Dhani Harrison, The Cars‘ Elliot Easton, Foo Fighters‘ Taylor Hawkins, Farrell’s wife Etty Lau Farrell and others, with a score by Hollywood composer Harry Gregson-Williams.
Farell is currently touring to support Kind Heaven with a North American and European tour at intimate venues with his new backing band, The Kind of Heaven Orchestra. The tour includes two remaining dates at City Winery — June 14, 2019 and June 15, 2019; but I caught Farrell open the tour last Friday. Check out the tour dates and photos from the show below.