Red Hot Chili Peppers @ The Staples Center, LA CA 08/12/12

Very good show for the most part – I got to attend the second night of a two night stand at the LA Staples Center. The mix and acoustics weren’t too bad. I’m convinced that venue was never meant for live concerts. More often than not, the mix is muddy with too much annoying low end.

My only major qualm about this gig was the teasingly brief length of the show – 90 minutes or so, which is criminal given the Chili Peppers’ extensive back catalogue and rich history. Luckily there is some variety from show to show. Some songs played during night 1 were swapped out during the night 2 performance. While night 1 attendees heard Snow, Around the World, She’s Only 18, Other Side and Higher Ground, night 2 attendees heard Dani California, Wet Sand, Throw Away Your Televison, Me & My Friends, and Sir Psycho Sexy (I too laugh at some of the song titles). As far as glaring omissions go, no songs from the 1980s were performed this night, save for the exception of “Me & My Friends.” While a longer set would have been preferable, I now see why the Chili’s play for limited stage time: They’re constantly moving, running, jumping, dancing, and convulsing onstage. Performing in that band is probably like performing in a sporting event. I can’t imagine how many calories those guys burn on stage, and 3 of 4 band members are in their late 40s. Another writer said they have the stamina of pre-schoolers. Sounds pretty accurate! 18 tracks were performed, peppered with various jams and improv work throughout. Magical moments for me were when the entire arena sang the intro to “Under the Bridge.” An equally special moment was hearing the sentimental “Wet Sand,” it’s one of those touching tracks that’s seldomly played.

The most cathartic moment was just before the group ripped into “Me & My Friends.” Flea dedicated the song to all his loved ones and family members. Flea also dedicated the song to his high school tormentors, saying something like “this is also dedicated to all those mother ****ers that threw sh*t at me and called me a f*g in high school. I now have no enemies in this world!” Hmm I wonder where those people are now?

Each musician in this group contributes something unique to the Red Hot sound. While singer Anthony Kiedis is the “face” and the voice of the band, the biggest entertainer in that group has to be Flea, better known to his immediate family and the IRS as Anthony Balzary. He beat that bass guitar into submission and played it with crazy dexterity, akin to a skilled lead guitar player. It popped, it rumbled, and it oozed infectious grooves (they’re a great band too!). Flea has this ability to create memorable bass “hooks,” memorable parts you can sing to. And while playing, he will two-step, shuffle and bounce around like a tennis ball. For these LA dates Flea sported purple hair in honor of the LA Lakers. A Lakers banner was also draped over Chris Warren’s keyboard rig.

Drummer Chad Smith makes up the other half of the rhythm section. He can easily channel the spirit of Zeppelin’s John Bonham as well as Parliament’s Dennis Chambers. He rocks AND he can get funky. When Smith lays down a groove, I can’t help but get excited. Great example is the intro to “Dani California.” My ears perk up, I get that shiver and an inkling to rotate the hips. “Ethiopia” is another good example of Smith’s magic on the drums. Rather than a 4 beat, the song is actually in 7 (at least I think it’s in 7…). What the heck is that? I realize I’m losing the non-musicians, but it’s so worth mentioning anyway. Smith plays this unassuming drum pattern, but adds a twist by lengthening the measure by a few beats – it gives the rhythm of the song a completely different personality…

it’s funkier, and it challenges or frustrates the listeners (and the dancers) in the process. You normally see 7/4 time signatures (or a 7 beat) in Rush songs, prog rock and jazz fusion stuff. Instead of counting to 4 like a typical rock beat, count to 7…the trick is to treat the word “seven” as one syllable: 1-2-3-4-5-6-sev, 1-2-3-4-5-6-sev, repeat. Sorry for the crappy lesson in time signatures. Anyhow, Smith was on FIRE. Adding some extra color and flavor to the Chili’s sound were sidemen on percussion and keyboards. They helped to flesh out some of the more textured numbers in the set this night. And during the final encore of “Give it Away,” Chili Pepper ex-drummers Cliff Martinez and Jack Irons joined the group and jammed along to the song on their own drum kits. Freakin’ AMAZING.

About Anthony Kiedis, he’s far better performer than a singer. The voice is unique and definitely part of the group’s signature sound, but I think he’s mostly untrained, there were some pitch problems during the first two songs. He can still move like he was in his 20s, and as for the singing, he was spot on during most of the performance. Josh Klinghoffer on guitar filled in well as the replacement for guitar god John Frusciante. Frusciante has long been credited as the melody master for this group, and I along with other fans had doubts about Klinghoffer’s abilities. He played the songs faithfully and had the same energy and fire as the rest of the group, but there was still something missing.

Why do i love this band? Because they’re like a colorful, crazy melting pot of sound, and there’s something uniquely fun and Californian about them. They’ve got the funk, the rock, the classic R&B, the rap, ska, reggae, etc. etc., but most importantly for me, it’s the melancholy and the ache. They may seem like a bunch of shirtless, horny knuckle heads…especially with song titles like “Suck My Kiss,” “She’s Only 18,” and “Sexy Mexican Maid,” BUT…they always manage to produce these poignant little gems that can tug at your heartstrings, material like “Brendan’s Death Song,” “I Could Have Lied,” “Scar Tissue” and of course, “Under the Bridge.” Those songs make me pause and reflect, and then I want to jump on the drums and play along. I’m very grateful I got to see these guys as they tour so infrequently. Just wish they’d play more songs!

Setlist
Monarchy of Roses
Chad’s drum jam/Dani California
Can’t Stop
Scar Tissue
Look Around
Throw Away Your Television
If You Have To Ask
The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie
Me & My Friends
Wet Sand
Under the Bridge
Suck My Kiss
Californication
By The Way

Encores
The Chad, Mauro & Josh super jam
Sir Psycho Sexy
They’re Red Hot
Ethiopia
Give It Away (with Cliff Martinez & Jack Irons)Image

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Posted on September 20, 2012, in Concerts: 2012 - Present, Red Hot Chili Peppers and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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