The last few years have been quite a learning curve for the Chili Peppers. With the loss of John Frusciante as their guitar player, to some it would have been felt like the loss of a limb.
All their classic albums have been made with John Frusciante who has been a prolific guitarist and creative force inside the band. Last year he was voted greatest guitar player of the past 20 years by 6 Music listeners.
However, the new album “I’m With You”, showed that this was simply not the case. The “new” guitarist Mr Josh Klinghoffer, long time friend of John Frusciante and former touring partner, backing up Frusciante on the last Chili Pepper’s tour, has brought a more subtle sound to the proceedings, but no less engaging.
With a less than enthusiastic response to their latest album, a 3 star (out of 5) rating being the most common, the consensus is that it is a good album but not their best. However, as time has gone on, the album sinks into the veins of the listener proving that longevity may be the album’s key ingredient. A return to their roots, of 70’s funk, is the theme of the album.
The real test for many Chili fans is of course the live performance. Can Klinghoffer live up to the antics of Frusciante?
The venue was the LG Arena, Birmingham, 19th November 2011.
Now I am not a fan of arenas at the best of times, and the last time I came to the Birmingham NEC was some 15 or so years ago. It was always a soulless place.
On this visit I was pleasantly surprised. Much has been done to take away the feeling of entering a large shed, and extra thought has now gone in to preventing the overcrowding and toilet queues of previous years.
Fools Gold support act
Fools Gold I must confess are a band that has largely passed me by. However, the evening started well with us getting inside the venue in time to catch their set.
Their music is most entertaining, with much audience participation. Their sound very much reminding me of a northern African feel to it. Upbeat and and happy sounds was the theme of the day. The woven melodies throughout the African themed percussion and Rhythms was great to hear.
It was a fitting support band that got the crowd going and was very much appreciated by the Brummie gathering. As was the impromptu collaboration with Josh Klinghoffer halfway through the set.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers
They appeared on stage just before 9pm with a packed out crowd.
The last time I saw them play was their very last performance with John Frusciante at the Leeds Festival in 2007 and he was on superb form that night.
They opened to the opening track on the album Monarchy of Roses. A superb opening, with a brand new track along with their new guitarist. The crowd went mad and the band seemed really up for it.
No sooner had we been treated to a new track than they went into a crowd favourite – Dani California. It was clear even this early on that this there would be a lot of crowd singing this evening!
The set continued with new material being interspersed with the old favourites, and the new songs never appeared out of place.
The band were clearly enjoying the night and were very tight.
The evening went incredibly quickly.
My personal favourites being Can’t Stop, Under the Bridge, By the Way, Give it Away, The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie and Higher Ground.
After over an hour they went off stage and then came back with an extended encore. The crowd loved it and even my friend thought they were amazing, and she has seen them a dozen or so times.
Klinghoffer was outstanding all evening. The jamming was as good as ever and he stamped his authority on the set. The new songs were all received well, and although the old material, and the solo guitar work had a different slant, with Klinghoffer’s personality in his guitar playing, it was still amazing to watch.
What this gig showed, was that of all the bands around at the moment, as a live force, the Chili Peppers are still a must see. They left the stage after an hour and 40 mins with the crowd still wanting more.
Track listing for gig.
Monarchy of Roses
The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie
Hard to Concentrate
I Like Dirt
Under the Bridge
By The Way
Chad Mauro Jam
Around The World
Everybody Knows This is Nowhere
Give it Away
This live set can be downloaded from the Red Hot Chili Peppers Web Site here