Above Ground benefit concert boasts boldfaced names, bold performances at the Fonda

Perry and Etty Lau Farrell performing at the Above Ground concert benefiting MusiCares at the Fonda Theatre, Sept. 16, 2019

One of the benefits citizens of Los Angeles enjoy is the ability to attend unique events that would be essentially impossible in most parts of the world. With an abundance of talent making there homes in the Southland, putting together an All-Star concert that befits the moniker is actually achievable. Thus, a very packed Fonda Theater enjoyed every minute of the star-studded Above Ground charity event hosted by onetime Camp Freddy bandmates Dave Navarro and Billy Morrison

Carrying over from last year’s theme (when Navarro and Morrison led performances of Adam Ant’s “Kings of the Wild Frontier” and the Velvet Underground & Nico’s debut album in their entirety), this year’s soirée featured two more classic records, The Stooges’ debut release and David Bowie’s seminal “Spiders from Mars.” Both albums were played in their entirety, with Billy Idol, Jack Black, Perry Farrell and Etty Lau Farrell (Janes Addiction, Kind Heaven Orchestra), Gavin Rossdale (Bush), Al Jourgensen (Ministry), Steve Stevens, Erik Eldenius and Paul Trudeau (Billy Idol), Juliette Lewis, Steve Vai, Billy Duffy (The Cult), Wayne Kramer (MC5), Mike Garson (longtime pianist for David Bowie who was in the original “Spiders From Mars” lineup), Twiggy (Marilyn Manson, NIN, A Perfect Circle), Orianthi, Julie Mintz, Mixi Demner (Stitched Up Heart), Brad Wilk (Prophets of Rage), Carmine Rojas (David Bowie), Chris Chaney (Janes Addiction), Franky Perez (Deadland Ritual), Dave Kushner (Velvet Revolver), Jason Christopher (Prong) and Donovan Leitch all making appearances.

Billy Idol kicked off the festivities with crushing interpretation of “1969,” followed by Lewis doing justice to “I Wanna be Your Dog” and “No Fun.” Navarro went full blood ritual with “We Will Fall,” followed by Kramer joining the band for “Real Good Time.” The Stooges set closed with a very unshackled Jourgensen roaring through “Search and Destroy” (which was not on the Stooges debut, but eff it, right?).

The David Bowie set kicked off with Morrison doing justice to “Five Years.” Idol returned for a terrific version of “Moonage Daydream,” and Rossdale’s performance of “Starman” was perhaps the highlight of the show. Only perhaps, because a tie-dyed Jack Black took the stage accompanied by a couple spectacular drag queens and brought the house down with “Suffragette City.” Three quarters of Jane’s Addiction were on stage for spirited executions of “Hang on to Yourself” and “Ziggy Stardust” as Perry Farrell (and wife Etty Lau) and bassist Chaney joined their bandmate Navarro. The presence of original “Spiders from Mars” Bowie pianist Garson lent a sober elegance to the set, as did Bowie’s bassist Carmine Rojas. 

Above Ground is the pet project of Navarro and Morrison, with the goal to raise suicide awareness and break down the barriers that lead people to suffer emotional distress in silence. One can tell that this subject is something both men feel deeply about, both sharing in-depth stories of their own dark thoughts. Such vulnerability is refreshing in a world attempting to shed itself of toxic masculinity. Proceeds from the show were donated to MusiCares, a charity which provides a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need. MusiCares’ services and resources cover a wide range of financial, medical and personal emergencies, and each case is treated with integrity and confidentiality. MusiCares also focuses the resources and attention of the music industry on human service issues that directly influence the health and welfare of the music community.

For more information please visit MusiCares