This past August, veteran rock act Jane’s Addiction marked a major milestone with the 25th anniversary of the release of its seminal 1990 studio recording Ritual de lo Habitual. Originally released Aug. 21, 1990, the album has gone on to become one of its most important albums if not its most important album. In celebration of its release, the band released Alive at 25 Aug. 4 of this year. The recording captures the band performing Ritual de lo Habitual in its entirety at Irvine, CA during its 2016 Silver Spoon Anniversary Tour. There is plenty to say good about this recording. As much as there is to say to the positive about the recording, it is not without at least one major flaw. That flaw – the recording’s audio – will be discussed later. Getting back to the positives, the very fact that the band is performing one of its most important albums in whole in one set is obviously the most important of the recording’s elements. This will be discussed shortly. The recording’s other positive is, interestingly enough, its collective cinematography and video editing. Each of the elements noted here is important in its own right to the recording’s whole. All things considered, they make Alive at 25 a concert that is okay, but sadly could have been better.
Jane’s Addiction’s latest live recording Alive at 25 is an enjoyable recording, but only to a point. The recording’s audio is a factor that cannot be ignored. It would of course, be unfair to focus only on that negative in examining the recording in whole. Keeping that in mind, the recording does have its positives as well as its negatives, not the least of which being the fact that the concert presents the band performing Ritual de lo Habitual in whole in one set. From start to finish, audiences get the band’s landmark album in whole plus some of the band’s more recent works to boot. What’s really interesting to note in the concert is that front man Perry Farrell makes more than one mention of the band playing at Irvine “one last time.” Considering that the band is still touring, such statement leaves one wondering what that statement might have meant since there is currently no word on any new music from the band on the way. Regardless of whether or not that means anything for the future, the very fact that the band has presented here one of its most important albums in whole is still undeniably critical to the recording’s whole.
What’s more, audiences will enjoy the stage presence of guitarist Dave Navarro, bassist Chris Chaney and drummer Stephen Perkins throughout the show. The trio puts on quite a performance, thankfully making up for Farrell’s seemingly blasé demeanor as he sways around the stage almost listlessly throughout the show. Their collective work, coupled with the recording’s set list, cinematography and editing serves to give the concert what energy it does have and in turn giving reason to watch the recording at least once. Of course even with the noted positives, the recording does suffer from the previously noted negative of its audio.
From start to finish, it is clear that this recording was recorded at an extremely low level. Audiences are forced to nearly max out the volume on their televisions in order to be able to hear the concert. This is the case even with the pre-show interviews with the band members and applies regardless of the sound setting on viewers’ televisions and whether or not they have home surround sound systems. Audiences should not be forced to nearly blow out their televisions’ speakers in order to enjoy a concert and then push that volume all the way back down before switching the television back to regular settings. This may not seem overly important on the surface. But when examining the recording’s overall presentation, it is just as important to note as the recording’s cinematography and editing, which proves far more impressive. It is part of the recording’s overall production values, and should have been addressed far more seriously than it apparently was here. Keeping that in mind, it is the one element that could potentially keep this recording from being named among the year’s top new live recordings by critics next month. Despite this, the recording is still not a total loss. The aforementioned cinematography and video editing make up for the problems caused by the recording’s audio issues.
The cinematography and video editing exhibited throughout the course of Alive at 25 serves as one of the recording’s cornerstones. Thanks to the work of those behind the cameras, audiences are presented with a concert experience that visually is not just another run-of-the-mill recording. Certain fades and visual effects are used throughout the concert to keep audiences engaged and entertained — effects such as black and white shots, slow fades and dissolves, and even the use of slower shutter speeds. The editing mixes those elements and shots, which are largely presented around the stage, to make the concert here not just a concert, but a standout visual cinematic concert experience. When that is considered along with the previously discussed stage presence of Farrell’s band mates, the two elements together make even more important the concert’s visual elements. It is that overall visual experience that, when coupled with the show’s set list, makes this recording worth at least one watch. If the audio had been better, it would have been worth far more. Ultimately though, that one negative keeps the concert from being worth more than that much. Keeping all of this in mind, Alive at 25 likely won’t be alive in audiences’ minds far beyond that one watch.
Jane’s Addiction’s latest live recording Alive at 25 is a valiant effort from one of the rock community’s most pivotal bands. It offers a set list that presents one of the band’s most important albums in whole in one setting, and a performance of that album by most of the band, that is certain to entertain audiences. The concert’s video work is just as certain to entertain audiences. Even with all of this in mind, it still is almost not enough to make up for the problems raised by the recording’s audio issues. If audiences have to nearly max out the audio on their televisions in order to hear the concert, there is not a lot of point to even take in the show. At the same time, audiences should not have to push the volume on their televisions way back down after the concert ends in that continued effort to not blow out their televisions’ speakers. Keeping all of this in mind, Alive at 25 sadly likely won’t be alive in audiences minds after just one watch. That is painful to say considering the quality of the band’s past live recordings. Hopefully the band will take all of this as a learning experience for its next live recording, when and if there will be another live recording from the band. Alive at 25 is available now in stores and online. More information on Alive at 25 is available online along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:
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