Perry Farrell vividly remembers being the kind of New York city kid who once rode the Ferris wheel at Coney Island and puked on his sister's dress while wearing a pirate costume his mom bought for him. The silky one he swayed around in on Friday night (June 7) at the City Winery in SoHo looked more couture than off-the-shelf, and the Bronx native appeared very happy to be back home during a 90+-minute set that mixed material from his new Kind Heaven solo album with classic tracks from Jane's Addiction and Porno for Pyros.
The soon-to-be-shuttered Winery has a distinctive dinner theater vibe, with candles on the tables, waiters in sports coats rushing around with trays of empty champagne bottles and an upscale clientele willing to pay a bit extra to see the alternative rock godhead up close and personal. Farrell — who is prepping a $90 million immersive Las Vegas Kind Heaven experience — seemed well-prepped for the move to Sin City, with a freewheeling set that paid homage to his gritty musical legacy mixed with a healthy coat of old-school showbiz shtick that would make a Tiki Room headliner proud.
With a house-made signature bottle of Grenache glued to his hand, Farrell looked the part, from his glossy pirate pants and wide leather belt, to a billowing black and white shirt that hugged his left arm and flowed out like a sail on the other. His wife and co-vocalist, Etty Lau Farrell, meanwhile, swirled around him in cheek-bearing sparkly black hot pants and a matching top, providing the occasional backing vocal and sensual dance routine to complete the musical revue vibe.
The pair's undeniably loving chemistry only added to the Copacabana sensation, as they flirted, danced and teased each other all night like an alt-rock Sonny and Cher. Just as he has for over three decades at Lollapalooza, Farrell played the charming, if slightly daffy raconteur, telling stories, tall tales and bonding with the bottle-service Richards down front as he promoted his first solo album in 18 years while giving the Gen X crowd just a taste of the classics they craved.
As fans chowed on Impossible burgers and duck tacos in the space that feels like a decent Italian restaurant which also happens to have a stage on one end, the lean band tore into the rock-ish dance groove of the new album's single, "Pirate Punk Politician" and the driving pop tune "Machine Girl." A male back-up dancer in a striped nautical shirt and a female singer in a daringly short black mini dress complimented Farrell's vocals with choreographed, enthusiastic shimmies while the singer worked the front rows.
"It was the best idea to start the tour in New York City," Farrell said in his helium voice. "Hi, howya doing man, did you just get off work?" he asked a gentleman up front. "I just came in on a plane at 7 a.m. I've never experienced 7 a.m.," Farrell joked before diving into PFP's signature snaky hit "Pets." The night was heavy on new material, with Perry literally showing his finger-fangs for the sinuous "Snakes Have Many Hips" and the male backup dancer blowing billowing smoke from his cupped hands to go with a monologue about a man smoking a pipe that preceded "Where Have You Been All My Life."
"I'm kind of digging this night dining and dinner theater thing… fuck that festival thing," the Lolla co-founder joked at one point, leaning into his role as pompadoured showroom showman and doing the Watusi and some hand jive to go with the island groove of PFP's "Tahitian Moon." As flirtatious as the happy couple were all night, Farrell shared that Etty Lau doesn't like some of his songs about ex-girlfriends, including the spare, sensual Jane's track "I Would For You," during which she took her leave from the stage.
With the din of the Pinot-primed crowd almost overwhelming Perry's notoriously reedy vocals, the band cranked things up for a thumping blitz through Iggy Pop and The Stooges' snarling "I Feel Alright," but almost got swallowed up by the clanking and chattering during the swooning ballad "More Than I Could Bear."
In keeping with the Vegas lounge vibe, Farrell was repeatedly interrupted by a heckler/fan as he tried to share another rambling intro to a new track. He handled it like, a champ, though, with a little help from a member of his team, who loudly shushed the blathering bar-huggers near the back. Which was a good thing because the 80-minute main set came crashing to a close with the Jane's classic "Ocean Size," which flooded the room with a titantic, hard-rolling sound and strobe light effects.
The sweeping, peace-signs-in-the-air old school peace and love anthem "Let's All Pray For This World" helped tie a positive ribbon on the night, with cameras flying up (a number with their flashes accidentally blazing) for the thundering landslide finale, Jane's "Mountain Song." Filled with vino and good vibes, the crowd spilled out onto the street well before 11 p.m., clearly satisfied by the closest, loosest experience they're likely to have with their favorite former Coney Island baby.