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POP MUSIC REVIEWS

Porno for Pyros Doesn't Hold Focus

June 24, 1996|SARA SCRIBNER

Perry Farrell is the consummate master of ceremonies, the ringleader for the circus of the eclectic. His previous band, Jane's Addiction, embraced Led Zeppelin and X, folk art and tribal culture and made it appeal to football captains and art-house denizens alike. And Farrell gave indie and alternative groups a stadium stage with his brainchild, the concert/happening Lollapalooza.

Friday at the American Legion Hall, however, as the singer's band Porno for Pyros played to promote its new "Good God's Urge" album, it seemed that Farrell had no interest in taking charge.

That unraveled the potential drama of the night, but Farrell hasn't lost his taste for transforming a stage into a true spectacle: He hauled out everything from Shiva-esque go-go dancers to a big screen, nearly naked female fire-eaters to torches and other luau props. (Among the cast of characters was bassist Mike Watt.)

As he addressed the crowd with dated flower-power phrases such as "Let love bloom" and "Never underestimate the power of love," it seemed that the alterna-guru had relinquished his power to the pyrotechnics.

From the watery psychedelia of "Porpoise Head" to an acoustic encore that included "100 Ways," the group offered only a few moments of gripping beauty. Undermined by its unchoreographed looseness, this show, which was broadcast live over the Internet, floated away into a confusing, ephemeral cosmos. While his role in the alternative rock history book is secure, Farrell appears to be letting his next chapter be written by a charming ghost.

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