Perry Farrell may be 50, but he still likes to, and knows how to, party.
Farrell enjoyed a star-studded belated birthday bonanza at Bare last night. Though the LA-based rocker marked half a century on March 29, he celebrated his birthday April 11 with “Perrypalooza” in Las Vegas.
Most birthday parties include friends, family, music and a cake, and Farrell’s was no exception – except that Farrell’s friends are stars from across the rock ‘n’ roll solar system like Billy Idol, Dave Navarro (Jane’s Addiction, Red Hot Chili Peppers), Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave) Debbie Harry (Blondie), Mark McGrath (Sugar Ray) and Matt Sorum and Billy Morrison (both of the Cult). Farrell’s family includes his stunning wife Etty Lau Farrell, and the party’s soundtrack included Idol singing, “Midnight Hour,” Harry performing “Call Me” and Morello joining Sen Dog of Cypress Hill for “Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That.”
There was a cake, too, a gigantic one – nearly enough to feed all 400 ticket-holders - shaped like a gigantic lollipop.
“Perrypalooza” also featured a Porno for Pyros reunion and marked the first time the band played the same gig as Farrell’s other, better-known project, Jane’s Addiction.
The birthday boy wore tailored tuxedo pants and a gold-hued dress shirt, topped off with an unflappable smile.
Farrell stood (and often sang and danced) at stage left as he watched his friends perform. He seemed genuinely happy, both onstage and off.
And the crowd, which was largely made up of 40- and 50-somethings mixed with few Gen-Xers who could drop $115 apiece for the show, seemed to have as much as the performers.
Farrell previously said he didn’t mind working on his birthday. “I don’t think of it as work, I love singing,” he said, adding, “It’s my birthday, I can sing all night if I feel like it.”
While he didn’t sing all night, he and his friends performed for nearly two hours, resulting in a very fun and memorable, cover-infused trip down memory lane.
The show seemed incredibly organic and impromptu, with the set list being decided on the fly (at times at the birthday boy’s request) and artists joining each other onstage from time to time, sharing guitars and back-up vocals.
Here’s the play-by-play:
Legendary Obey street artist Shepard Fairey avoided the spotlight, but got things started from the DJ booth, spinning until Farrell came onstage just before 11 p.m. to introduce his first guest.
A shameless self-promoter named Mickey Avalon served as the opening act. By far the youngest performer to take to the stage, Avalon managed to work his name into both of the songs he performed, repeatedly. While his performance and lyrics were far from innovative, his set won the award for most cleavage – narrowly beating out the corseted, curvaceous Lau Farrell – thanks to a quintet of lovely ladies in sequined bikinis and go-go gear who enhanced his stage show.
After that, the Farrells pulled a few songs from their Satellite Party collection to share with the crowd before introducing the next guest, who Farrell called “one of the most fun people in the entire universe.”
When Mark McGrath stepped onto the stage moments later, however, the Sugar Ray frontman seemed to channel the question that permeated the audience: What on Earth is Mark McGrath doing here?
The lighthearted and seemingly psychic McGrath called himself a “douche,” then got to business, with a cover of the Sex Pistols’ “E.M.I.”
Next came Juliette Lewis, who gave an impressive and energetic take on AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds,” which was followed by former Pussycat Doll Carmit Bachar.
With the crowd warmed up and ready to rock, Sen Dog and Tom Morello took to the stage, launching into the Cypress Hill classic, “Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That.”
After they left the stage, Farrell introduced Debbie Harry as a “very, very special” and unexpected guest. While the 63-year-old is now decidedly gray and not blonde, the former Blondie leading lady did her best to treat Perrypalooza-goers to a few of her band’s hits, beginning with the 1981 single, “Rapture.”
The Farrells joined Harry on vocals for “Call Me,” as did McGrath and Lewis. Lau Farrell was particularly energetic in her performance, her fervor at times risking a so-called “wardrobe malfunction.”
Alas, her enhanced goods failed to escape their corseted confines and no one got a free show.
Ticketholders soon got some special bang for their buck, however, when Porno for Pyros took to the stage for the first time in over a decade. Farrell and his bandmates hadn’t performed live in over 12 years.
While the Porno for Pyros set was short, it was sweet. The guys sounded good and seemed to enjoy themselves onstage, too.
After just two songs, they bid adieu with "Tahitian Moon" and left fans cheering for more.
“What can we do to top that?!” Farrell asked as he reassumed the role as emcee and host.
“Oh, I know!” he shouted. “Billy Idol!”
The iconic British rocker leapt onto the stage, as did Dave Navarro, who served as his guitarist for the evening.
The 53-year-old Idol proved to be somewhat of a contradiction. Just three years older than Farrell, Idol looked 10 or 15 years his senior. While his hair was spiky and bleached blonde, and his wardrobe included a very hip jacket and black pants with a lace-up crotch, his washed-out, vampire-like appearance evidenced his long career of living the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle.
Though Idol may have looked like a member of the living dead, he didn’t sound like one. In fact, his performance was incredibly lively.
Meanwhile, the similarly age-defiant Navarro demonstrated that he, at age 41, appears to have mastered the art of picking up girls from the stage – mid-song, no less.
Navarro took some time out of “Midnight Hour” to give detailed instructions to a blonde in the front row.
“You … go there … phone number,” he said, using both hands to point at the woman (“you”), then a stage hand standing to the left (“there”) then motioning, as if holding a pen and writing (“phone number”).
The woman seemed to have really piqued Navarro’s interest, as he checked back on her several times throughout the evening, repeating his instructions. (No word on whether or not she complied with the notoriously flirtatious guitarists’ orders.)
Navarro’s extracurricular plans didn’t stop the show, however, and Idol’s set continued on, phone number or no phone number, concluding with a stellar rendition of “Eyes Without a Face.”
After Idol left the stage, Farrell returned to center stage and joined Navarro and fellow Jane’s Addiction bandmates for a few songs.
Drummer Stephen Perkins, meanwhile, seemed to be enjoying himself, often joking around with Farrell, who repeatedly donned a British accent and referred to the percussionist as “Perky.” (“puuuh-kee!”)
During their brief time onstage, the band revisited four songs, including "Ted, Just Admit It..." from their 1988 album, Nothing’s Shocking, and one of the first songs they ever recorded, “Whores.” (The track was on their 1987 debut album, as well as 1997’s Kettle Whistle, and was recently remixed and re-released online by Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor.)
Popular single “Been Caught Stealing” went unsung, much to the understandable disappointment of some fans, but since the band played just four songs, it was among many fan favorites that went unheard. (The band plays the Pearl next month, however, so perhaps Vegas audiences will hear it then.)
Short sets were par for the “Perrypalooza” course, however, as the entire night was composed of short, two, three or four-song sets and a rotating cast of musicians. Still, the concert delivered nearly two hours of almost non-stop rock, accentuated with icons along the way.
After his performance, Farrell thanked everyone for coming to his party, calling the night a “spectacular evening.”
Lau Farrell presented her husband with his birthday gift: a scrapbook of cards and well-wishes from his friends, including the only no-show guest, Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash.
The concert came to a close with a call for all-hands-on-deck, as the impressive cast came together for their version of “Kumbaya,” an invigorating cover of the Rolling Stones’ classic, “Sympathy For The Devil.”
The night didn’t end there, however. The rockers moved the party (and Farrell’s giant, lollipop-shaped cake) to Revolution lounge and invited audience to join them, proving once again that while Perry Farrell may be 50, but he still likes to, and knows how to, party.