City Winery NYC
New York City, NY
June 14, 2019
Perry Farrell never stays still for long. Always the innovator, ever the activist, Farrell’s latest album of new music, his first in a decade, is a breathtaking mixture of rock and symphonic elements, thanks in part to Hollywood composer Harry Gregson-Williams. The result is a retro, sweeping and rich recording. On stage, the new material is positively electric.
A founding member of iconic bands including PSI Com in 1981, Jane’s Addiction in 1985 and Porno for Pyros in 1992 as well as Satellite Party in 2004 and sustaining a wildly successful solo career beginning in 1999, Farrell is also a co-founder of Lollapalooza, which created the standard that experiential music festivals still strive to compete with today. Farrell joined forces with Tom Morello and his Axis of Justice in Los Angeles to raise money for the homeless as well as removing debris from the Ninth Ward in New Orleans post Hurricane Katrina. Morello and Farrell raised money for the New York based non-profit “Road to Recovery” to help people battling addiction. Farrell, an environmentalist, met with Tony Blair at 10 Downing Street in 2007 to discuss global warming. He also worked with Global Cool to help promote green living.
Kind Heaven Orchestra is Farrell’s latest project and tour, supporting the release Kind Heaven ( BMG, 2019). The album, co-produced by Farrell and David Bowie collaborator Tony Visconti, features contributions by Dhani Harrison, Elliot Easton of The Cars and Taylor Hawkins of The Foo Fighters. The vinyl edition even includes a code for downloading a digital version missed in Dolby Atmos which gives fans an immersive listening experience. The first single “Pirate Punk Politician” is a good old-fashioned protest song, reflecting on the state of the planet and the rise of autocratic regimes. Tackling life’s big questions and engaging it’s challenges is a theme on this release.
American singer-songwriter Kristeen Young is difficult to pigeonhole into one genre. She plays a mean keyboard, sports operatic vocals, possesses a theatrical flair and leans toward performance art. Young meshes well with a band on stage but also stands powerfully on her own. She broke onto the scene in 1997 with her debut album Meet Miss Young & Her All Boy Band (World Domination, 1997) and by the early 2000’s, she was working with Visconti on her 2003 record Breasticles (Tony Visconti Productions, 2003), which featured a duet with the late David Bowie on the song “Savior.” She returned the favor by appearing on Bowie’s album Heathen ( ISO Sony, 2008).
On a warm Friday night, a week before the official start of summer, Farrell’s Kind Heaven Orchestra tour played their second show of this tour at City Winery in New York City. Bar stools were removed to create for standing room areas in the vast venue. By the time Young, the only opening act for the City Winery NYC dates, took the stage at 8pm, the energy in the air was palpable. The sold out crowd chatted at tables, congregated in the standing zones and milled about the merch stand as the adept wait staff shuttled delicious fare and wine to excited fans.
Young, clad in a black dress with a keyboard pattern featured across the front and flashes of gold on her hands, captured the attention of the crowd immediately. Poised behind a keyboard with a silver façade, Young’s expressive face was expertly adorned with theatrical makeup and an elaborate hair style, ready for action. Her first live set in a little over a year was a smashing success, featuring many new songs from her forthcoming, self-produced ninth album The SubSet which will be released in September. The upcoming CD features Young’s expertise on everything, having written, arranged, produced, mixed and played every instrument on it with the exception of live drums. The audience, many of who were obviously familiar with Young’s work, responded strongly to the new material and showed her love during her 40 minute set. This was a perfect warm up for her upcoming residency shows this fall in New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco, plus a handful of shows in London in November. As quickly as it began, her beautifully paced set ended, earning her even more fans and leaving the room wanting more.
After a fast set breakdown, Farrell’s Kind Heaven Orchestra took over the intimate stage of City Winery. One older gentleman in the center of the venue whooped animatedly, as the crowd anxiously waited. With loads of white faux foliage decorating the perimeters of the stage as well as the adjacent areas, the drama was building as the crowd waited for Farrell to appear. When he did, the cheers were raucous.
Still cutting a captivating form at 60 years of age, Farrell engaged the audience immediately, covering every inch of the platform, ensuring that everyone was treated to amazing view. Kicking off with a high energy performance of “(red, white and blue) Cheerfulness,” Farrell wore a black vest, bare chest and silver fingerless gloves that cuffed his arms up to his elbows. His wife, Etty Lau Farrell, clad in stunning black and silver, matched his energy both physically and vocally. “Pirate Punk Politician” and “Machine Girl” rounded out the first three songs, but Farrell and company dug into the archives to bring out favorites like “Pets” and “Tahitian Moon” from his Porno for Pyros days as well as “Jane Says” and “Been Caught Stealin’” from the Jane’s Addiction era.
Highlights included a cover of Iggy Pop’s “I Got a Right” as well as the two encores, which brought a clothing change for Farrell who then donned a puffy sleeved white shirt to carry out “Let’s All Pray for the World” as well as “Mountain Song” which thrilled fans of Jane’s Addiction. An absolutely cathartic and draining show, the fans were ecstatic to be in attendance for such a special night, with many conversations centering on the possibility of trying to score standing room tickets for Saturday night’s show.
Additional article contributions by Mike Perciaccante
Photos by Christine Connallon