Jane's Addiction

Three Days

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What a sweet, strange trip it's been. Since kicking in the door in the late '80s, Jane's Addiction, in all their on-again, off-again glory, were one of rock's most creative and stunning acts. Three Days -- billed as a "docu-drama" (more on that in a moment) -- focuses on the band's 1997 reunion Relapse Tour. Actually, the focus is very much on the identities that make up the band and hence the nature of the creature as a whole, even though the concert footage is very prominent. This lineup includes Chili Peppers bassist Flea, as original bassist Eric Avery declined the invitation to climb back onboard. But the ever-shirtless one only adds to the aura, and of course, his playing is top-notch. The stage show, unencumbered by a zillion props and effects, achieves Addiction-level theatricality by employing a few nice touches, including some fabulous exotic dancers clambering up and down a 30-foot pole and mingling with the musicians in bizarre, erotic pantomimes. And then there are the guys themselves, led by shamanistic singer Perry Farrell, who's at his visually captivating, vocally mind-blowing best. Most of the band's best-loved numbers are shown in part or whole (e.g., "Jane Says," "Ocean Size," "Ted, Just Admit It," "Pigs in Zen") as the four players -- including original guitarist Dave Navarro and original drummer Stephen Perkins -- unleash six years of pent-up energy (the band's previous tour together was in 1991). Their chops are right on. Farrell's eccentric magnetism and Navarro's inventive guitar work create a mystical synergy while the rhythm section summons up primal forces of its own. The behind-the-scenes footage is sublime -- though the sound level is way down for some reason. Although built loosely around a weak fictional narrative about an amateur documentary crew trying to do a film on the tour (why??), it doesn't dilute the interviews (Perry Farrell waxing metaphysical and sexual) or the candid moments (Navarro on the phone, confessing to being up for five days straight and rattling on about heroin and other decadent exploits, or wandering hotel hallways reciting dialogue from Martin Scorcese's Taxi Driver verbatim). There's even a tour reunion party at Hugh Hefner's Playboy mansion six months after the event which is appropriately surreal. While it's clear that the musicians, Farrell and Navarro in particular, love the camera and often come across as pretentious and disingenuous in their interviews and asides, it's still thoroughly engaging viewing. Even the film's disjointedness helps to reflect the subject matter rather than detract from the overall product. Then there's the glitterati drop-ins backstage (Navarro getting crude with Jewel, for one) in which viewers can play spot-the-celeb. Extras include a 40-minute outtake reel that's, in many ways, as interesting as the main film, and a kind of annoying audio commentary track version of the main feature. You might watch this DVD thinking of other ways you wish it had been put together -- more linearity, more concert footage, not truncating certain/any songs -- but boredom certainly won't be a complaint.