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Red Hot Chili Peppers
Celina Murphy, 17 Nov 2011
Listening to them now, it’s hard to believe that Red Hot Chili Peppers were once the most outrageous thing in music. If your memory stretches back that far, you’ll recall that 20 years ago, they were the long-haired, hyperactive and frequently naked class clowns of Stateside rock, and that you loved them all the more because you never knew what crazy-ass stunt they were going to pull next.
Naturally in 2011, things are somewhat more predictable. Their tenth studio album I’m With You is a foolproof stew of all their favourite ingredients: heavy basslines, punk-funk melodies and snappy pseudo raps. Chad Smith, 50, and Anthony Kiedis and Michael ‘Flea’ Balzary, both 49, are hardly rock’s young dream, but we know they can put on a fantastic live show and that they’ve got a bit of a thing for Ireland – Kiedis once attributed their iconic cock socks to an “ancient Irish tradition.”
I’m not expecting anything groundbreaking tonight, and that’s precisely why I’m having such a damn fine time. With almost impossible levels of energy on display, I can forget about the back catalogue stinkers, I can forget that emo guitarist Josh Klinghoffer is no John Frusciante and I can forget that Red Hot Chili Peppers are responsible for some of the most throwaway lyrics of all time (see “Me Oh My O/Me and Guy O/Freer than a bird/Cus we’re rockin’ Ohio”). There’s just no arguing with 105 hit-packed minutes of killer riffs, demon percussion and consummate showmanship.
Tonight’s set-list has been cleverly pieced together from the most sensational eras of RHCP, but even when bunny-hopping from ‘Under The Bridge’ to ‘Scar Tissue’ to ‘Can’t Stop’, it never sounds like a trip down memory lane. ‘Me And My Friends’ from 1987’s The Uplift Mofo Party Plan blends seamlessly into hot-headed newbie ‘Factory Of Faith’, but this is the only time I’m With You material really deserves to take centre stage. Intro ‘Monarchy Of Roses’ falls flat, and thankfully, it’s rescued by enduring Stadium Arcadium favourite ‘Dani California’ and a wildly impressive light show. Throughout the set, some colossal metamorphasising rigging hosts pictures of animated dancing pills, flocks of circling birds, and the band themselves locked in a ‘90s MTV Unplugged timewarp. I don’t pretend to understand what any of it means.