If getting older conjures up images of sitting on a porch swing and remembering what you used to be, then don’t tell the guys in the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Three/fourths of the band may be teetering on the half-century mark but are showing no signs of slowing down. Witness the last song of their three song encore: Both Flea and Anthony Kiedis are jumping up and down, getting higher and higher with each bounce, sweat pouring off their bodies, while Chad Smith is hammering away at the drums, full steam ahead, snorting like a steroidal bull. If this is what 50 looks like, bring it on.
30 years of being a Chili Pepper has left it’s mark on the three core members. The highs and lows of being one of music’s seminal funk-punk-rock ensembles, they have persevered where others have given up, endured where others have wilted under the pressures of a changing music scene, forged on and lived when so many have died, including one of their own. Their war wounds show in the still-present emotional tugs of songs such as “Under The Bridge” and the hustling sexiness of “Give It Away.” And somewhere down this funkadelic path these boys in socks became men.
A major shout out has to go to drummer Chad Smith, one of the most invigorating drummers ever. Bonham-like in his full-force attack on the skins, he is the engine that moves the Chili Peppers into rhythms unthinkable. With Flea as his jesterly muse, the bass pumps causing fibrillations of their own, these two rode the horse to town and came out screaming on the other side at the end of “By The Way,” which closed out the regular set.
The show in New Orleans was a make-up date from February when Kiedis injured his foot and the wait was well-worth it. Kiedis emoticomed to the crowd all throughout the twenty or so songs, baring his heart and soul and tattooed back for all to see. He just did it through his lyrics. Flea was the actual voice of the night, cracking snappy one-liners and thanking the crowd for their thirty year support. Introducing “Goodbye Hooray” as a quiet lullaby that Smith plays for his baby boy, RHCP funked it up so down and dirty it was impossible to sit still. “And the baby sleeps for hours,” Flea deadpanned when all was done.
Another voice making himself heard was that of Josh Klinghoffer, the intensely quiet force that sat for songs on end in a chair, his head down, stringy hair in his face, who would suddenly pop up like a maniacal jack-in-the-box to play some insane guitar parts. John Frusciante’s presence and vibe was missed but Klinghoffer was this little spark plug that would ignite and spin out of control. His one-on-one jamming with Flea, as on the pumping hot “Adventures Of Rain Dance Maggie” from their most recent opus I’m With You, the intro to “Californication” and the fiery termination to “Give It Away,” was pure ecstasy.
Celebrating their love for the Crescent City, where they filmed the video for “Brendan’s Death Song” earlier this year, the band brought out “Apache Rose Peacock” to the mass delight of the hometown crowd, which included Neville Brother Ivan and his nephew and Dumpstaphunk bandmate Ian. “There ain’t no faking the funk,” Flea praised of the city’s influence on the Peppers. Klinghoffer also wore a blue NOLA cap that drew cheers each time it was shown up close on the huge monitors.
With Flea a demon on the bass, Kiedis the scatmaster of dance and rap, Smith a massive tornado of rhythmic proportions and Klinghoffer a budding guitar hero, the Chili Peppers could have another thirty years easy bringing the gumbo to the hungry.