Perry Farrell gets lighthearted with the Kind Heaven Orchestra at the Fillmore

Perry Farrell's Kind Heaven Orchestra, Perry Farrell, Kind Heaven Orchestra

Perry Farrell’s Kind Heaven Orchestra performs at the Bill Graham Festival of Lights at The Fillmore in San Francisco on Dec. 2, 2018. Photos: Steve Carlson.

SAN FRANCISCO — When you sign up for a show with Perry Farrell, storied lead singer of Jane’s Addiction and Porno for Pyros, you will always get some of Farrell’s flowery observations about life, love and a bit of drugs. That’s what the audience got at his debut of his new band, Kind Heaven Orchestra, Sunday night at The Fillmore.

At the Inaugural Bill Graham Festival of Lights concert, which Perry Farrell and the Kind Heaven Orchestra headlined, he brought not only an exciting sort of rock, but also stories about Adam and Eve, the bar mitzvah and a bit of dancing around politics. The audience, some of whom were getting ready to celebrate Hanukkah, was receptive to both his words and his songs. Clad in a sparkling black jacket and tight black pants with white splotches, Farrell took and kept the audience’s interest the entire show.

Perry Farrell's Kind Heaven Orchestra, Perry Farrell, Kind Heaven Orchestra

Perry Farrell’s Kind Heaven Orchestra.

Farrell came out to cheers and was joined by a string quartet and three singers, not including his wife, Etty Farrell. Etty Farrell, who performed with her husband in the less-successful Satellite Party, was also prominently featured Sunday.

Farrell began with comment about marijuana wafting in the air, opined that maybe he should be president, then said he has a better job with Lollapalooza and all of his other successes. Then he launched into “Machine Girl,” which was inspired by his son and seemed to speak about video games and infatuation. Farrell borrowed joints from fans and smoked them as an introduction to “Where Have You Been All My Life?”

The songs were, in general, considerably poppier and more lighthearted than that of Jane’s Addiction. Not that the songs of the former aren’t fun, but they were often about weighty topics. Kind Heaven Orchestra songs were, in comparison, often funny and more danceable.

Farrell prefaced every song with a story. One was about aliens on earth—“there’s no way we’re the only civilization”—and one about Infowars’ Alex Jones. With the singer-dancers accompanying his vocals, Perry Farrell sang “Snakes Have Many Hips” and “Spin the Body” with his wife. Songs from the forthcoming Perry Farrell and the Kind Heaven Orchestra album were received well. The music also features contributions from members of Foo Fighters, Motley Crue, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and current members of Jane’s Addiction. But it was the singer-dancers and Etty Farrell who held center stage. For all we know, Tommy Lee could have been on stage, but he would have been buried at the back of the stage.

While some visuals splashed on the screen behind the band, they did not seem to command as much attention as Farrell himself. The song that seemed to resonate with the crowd the most was possibly called “Pirate, Punk, Politician” and sounded in parts like the end of Jane’s Addiction’s “Three Days.” The end of the show included Jane’s Addiction’s “Jane Says” and Porno for Pyros’ “Pets.”

Balkan Bump

Balkan Bump.

The show was opened by jam band Jerry’s Kosher Deli, which had just finished playing several hours at the menorah lighting in Union Square. The band played bouncy Jewish music along with well-received covers of Grateful Dead songs and the like. At one point, it was accompanied by a guest singer who sang Bob Marley’s “One Love.”

Next up was Balkan Bump, a funky, upbeat electronic duo featuring trumpeter Will Magid and clarinetist Morgan Nilsen. Magid flipped his hat in the air as they played “Judeo Slave.” Both the duo and the audience got a kick out of playing a cover of Snoop Dogg’s “Drop It Like It’s Hot.”

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