The Red Hot Chili Peppers remain a rock ‘n roll juggernaut and a force to be reckoned with. The first night of two sold out shows at Oakland’s Oracle Arena proved that these Los Angeles good time boys still know how to bring the house down.
Opening their set with “Monarchy of Roses” from their latest album I’m With You, the Peppers came out with funky guns ablazing. A righteous set up for arguably their best song of the past ten years, “Around the World.” The rest of the night would focus on the band’s newer material.
Now, although I am a huge fan of the Pepper’s earlier work, I understand the logic behind their setlist. These guys have grown up. Just as I would love to hear Freaky Styley and Mother’s Milk in their entirety, it’s just not practical. These guys, along with just a few other bands, are carrying the torch for stadium rock ‘n roll and passing it onward to another generation.
I think the band’s crowning achievement was the modern masterpiece Blood Sugar Sex Magic—from which we did get to hear a blistering version of “Give it Away” as a brilliant encore.
The band’s biggest success came from their last three albums, so it makes sense for them to focus the majority of the set on those records. However you look at it, the decision simply works. The Chili Peppers can turn even their more mellow songs into an uplift mofo party plan that can rally any aged / sized crowd into a frenzy.
Another interesting thing that comes with age, is the wisdom to not wear a sock on your privates. Anthony and Flea still proudly sport a single tube sock while performing, but this time around they put it in its place—on their foot. One might think they are losing their “edge,” while I think they are just becoming that more clever.
What can you say about Flea that hasn’t been said a million times? He’s a powerhouse and one of the greatest, most innovative bass players of all time. He has not slowed down a bit.
There were moments in the show when it seemed that Flea was the only performer on stage as he absolutely pummeled his bass guitar, driving the grooves and locking in perfectly with his longtime rock-solid partner in funky crime, Chad Smith. Flea can make one string sound like a raging army and he had four of them to work with. It’s simply astonishing to see a mere mortal play an instrument at this level.
This is also the debut of John Frusciante’s replacement, Josh Klinghoffer handling guitar duties. Although I do miss seeing Frusciante, the “new guy” doesn’t miss a beat. He is completely insane as well, whirling around and across the stage, reminiscent of how the band was back in their very early days. He’s a perfect fit and a welcome addition.
Bottom line: the Chili Peppers reign supreme as the kings of all things funky rock ‘n roll, even though the funk may not be as prominent as it once was. They put on an incredibly powerful show that few bands these days can match. Go see this show whether you are a fan of the old material or the new, there’s something for everyone. Check out all of the photos from the show in hi-res.
Were you at either one of the shows in Oakland? What did you think? Join the conversation in the comment section below.