November 10, 2011
The O2 Arena - London
Review by Paul Riddell
Photos by Paul Riddell
Red Hot Chili Peppers
We Brits can be a snobby bunch, especially when it comes to evaluating American rock bands that come to our soil. With that said, I am going to tip my hat to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. To be more specific, the remarkable run singer Anthony Keidas and his childhood friend, Michael Balzary, aka Flea, have been on since 1983.
What these two musicians have been able to accomplish with their creation, by any standards, is quite impressive. The internal battles these two fought, with drug and alcohol addictions over the decades, would have ripped apart any other rock band. The revolving door of lead guitarists would have doomed any other group. Not this one. Somehow, some way, Kiedas and Flea found the will to survive, and thrive, as they took the Chili Peppers to new heights time and time again. For that reason alone, they should be applauded.
Tonight's performance started off with the band's latest hit, "Monarchy of Roses" from their recently released album, I'm With You. In fact, three other songs off the new album, "Look Around", "Factory of Faith" and "The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie" would make it onto the set list before the night was over. This tour, RHCP's first in years, is also an introduction to the public of the Peppers newest addition, guitarist Josh Klinghoffer. I said addition, and not replacement, because in all sense of the word, this talented artist has added another dimension to the Peppers they previously lacked.
For years, Klinghoffer has been the collaborator on several of the solo works recorded by former Pepper mainstay, John Frusciante. In 2007, this multi-talented musician even joined the Red Hot Chili Peppers on the final few legs of their Stadium Arcadium tour, performing additional guitar, backing vocals and keyboard parts alongside the band. When Frusciante finally decided to concentrate solely on his own music two year ago, Klinghoffer stepped into his friend's role with the Peppers. The transition was so seamless, the self-imposed hiatus the band was on ended, and the group immediately began writing the new I'm With You album.
This performance was the end of a three-night stand by the group at the O2 Arena. After "Monarch," the band went right into "Can't Stop". It quickly tested Klinghoffer's skills, and confirmed to the crowd this indeed was the right man for the job. He easily mastered the layered guitar work created by Frusciante on the original. That tune was followed by the Peppers Grammy Award winning masterpiece, "Scar Tissue." From that point on, this near capacity crowd was on board with not only Klinghoffer, but the band itself.
There is a certain amount of unbridled enthusiasm Keidas and Flea bring to the stage. The singer is infamous for his onstage missteps, and tonight the just turned 49-year old eschewed the back flips and random wild mosh pit antics of the past to deliver a more subdued version of him self. However, I didn't see his two previous shows at the O2, so maybe he was just playing it cool this evening. Flea was just Flea. His maniacal antids onstage are somewhat infectious. He's also in tremendous physical shape. It literally looks like he's running a marathon on stage with the amount of energy he expends song after song. Keidas, who looked rather odd with half his hair hanging out the side of his cap, sounded well, happy singing the music. Maybe it's because the band skipped playing any song from 1995's One Hot Minute album featuring Dave Navarro on guitar.
During the group's stand at the O2, they pulled out some gems including "Sir Psycho Sex" from Blood Sugar Sex Magik and "Emit Remmus" from Californication. The also dutifully performed "Me and My Friends" from ‘87's The Uplift Mofo Party Plan. The Chili Peppers have included the song on their set list going on a quarter of a century now. It's just about the only tune from the band's 1980's catalog of music the Pepper mainstays insist on playing to this day.
Flea, Keidas and drummer Chad Smith were obvious quite happy, and probably relieved, that Klinghoffer has worked out so well. And speaking of Smith, he's been quite busy the past year doing double duty with this band, and his side project, Chickenfoot. The constant work has paid off, especially during the "Chad & Mauro Jam." It kicked off the four-song encore that included "Sir Psycho Sexy" and covers of the Robert Johnson classic "They're Red Hot," and Neil Young's "Everybody Knows This is Nowhere." The show ended with an extended jam of "Give it Away."
I know the British press has been giving the Red Hot Chili Peppers less than stellar reviews on there extended stay at the O2. Obviously this audience tonight saw something totally different. Everyone left the arena physically drained and mentally happy. Of course watching Flea work the stage for over two hours will exhaust just about anybody.
RHCP has been touring Europe that past few weeks fine tuning their show before undertake a massive tour of North America next year. Judging from the reaction they received in London during there raucous three-night stand, I'd say the Americans are in for quite a treat in 2012.
Monarchy of Roses
Factory of Faith
Throw Away Your Television
Me & My Friends
The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie
Under the Bridge
Higher Ground (Stevie Wonder cover)
By the Way
Chad & Mauro Jam
Sir Psycho Sexy
They're Red Hot (Robert Johnson cover)
Everybody Knows This is Nowhere (Neil Young cover)
Give It Away