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Celebrating Perry

Stars turn out for the alterna-god’s 50th-birthday bash

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Perrypalooza, April 11, Mirage pool

Perry Farrell’s 50th-birthday party at the Mirage pool turned into a celebration of generations’ worth of alternative, punk and even commercial music. In many ways, this was a journey back in time. The opening featured Farrell and wife Etty offering up their electronic-influenced contribution “Go All the Way (Into the Twilight)” from the Twilight soundtrack. Later, Farrell reunited with his two best-known bands, Porno for Pyros and the seminal Jane’s Addiction. Farrell’s rock-god presence was apparent through his leaps and stretches, dramatic gestures and that amazing falsetto voice that goes from a note to a howl to a scream.

But on this night, the Lollapalooza tour founder got by with more than a little help from his friends—and what a group of friends the man has. There was little time to rehearse or soundcheck (backstage, Debbie Harry did not even know what songs she was going to sing). But everyone onstage was an experienced performer capable of winging it. Harry worked through “Rapture” assisted by Sen Dog of Cypress Hill kicking a counter-rap. And when the man from Mars started eating guitars, the performance ended with a staggering solo from Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello.

Another highlight: The Stooges’ “Down on the Street,” featuring guitarist Wayne Kramer of the equally groundbreaking Detroit band MC5, and Billy Idol handling the Iggy Pop-inflected vocals. In an equally odd twist, it was left to Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath to fraud an English accent for the Sex Pistols’ “E.M.I.” Amidst all this veteran talent, a surprise twist had Juliette Lewis taking on AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap,” with the crowd screaming along.

Perry Farrell and friends rock Perrypalooza

At the end, the stars (except Kramer, content to watch from backstage) joined up for a sloppy “Sympathy for the Devil.”

“Perry Farrell is 50 years old!” someone shouted into one open mic.

“Perry Farrell is 50 years young!” someone responded into another.

A perfect ending to a celebration of a musician with such a past who is still working actively into his future.

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Richard Abowitz

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