Friday 11 November 2016

On Stage: Red Hot Chili Peppers @ Ziggo Dome

It's been a while since I've seen the Red Hot Chili Peppers in a headline show. The last time I saw them, the band played a disappointing and uninspired concert in Nijmegen back in 2007, while touring with the also disappointing Stadium Arcadium album. The following albums were also not that great and I kind of lost interest in the band. I did see them a few times on festivals which did spark the old flame somewhat. Until I watched a few of their festival shows last summer online and saw traces of the Peppers that once stole my heart.

Red Hot Chili Peppers at Ziggo Dome Amsterdam, November 9 2016

The new album The Getaway can't compete with their older albums. To be honest uptil Stadium Arcadium they always delivered except for One Hot Minute. Then their sound changed into more mellow and pop, and the raw edge and funk had disappeared. On The Getaway, although still not great, at least some of the funk has returned here and there but more importantly the band is looking good live on stage. Before they come up, support band Deerhoof take the stage. The experimental rock band has great ideas but it's hard to get into. This is not a band to see in a large venue like this. Also Satomi Matsuzaki's vocals aren't great, which becomes painfully clear in the Def Leppard cover 'Put Some Sugar'. Her singing style with the shrill voice will put many people off to begin with anyway.

Three of the Peppers show up and gather around Chad Smith's green drum kit for a jam. When singer Anthony Kiedis shows up, they kick off with 'Around The World'. That's not a bad start of the show at all. After a few of their hit songs they play the best song of The Getaway, the lead-off single 'Dark Necessities', that sound even better live with the pumping bass. The other three songs of the new record get a lukewarm response which is understandable when you hear them in a hit loaded setlist like tonight.

Bassist Flea as always is all over the place jumping and making funny faces while at the same time playing his signature bass lines. Chad Smith is playing his killer grooves tightly and powerful in his relaxed style, tossing drum sticks into the crowd by the dozen. Josh Klinghoffer seems to be in his own universe at the right side of the stage, shredding his guitar, but sometimes he will join the rest around the drum kit. No matter how good a guitar player he is, he just can't make me forget about the one of a kind John Frusciante.

Anthony Kiedis who is known to sing out of tune regularly is singing surprisingly well tonight and is moving from the center of the stage to either side as a connection for the band. Two additional musicians on keyboard and percussion join the band at the back now and then, but especially when the four Peppers all get close to each other you can hear what still makes this band so good. At times like this they make you forget about the big stage, hall and incredible light show and turn into this exciting band that impressed everyone over 30 years ago. And by the looks of it, these guys are still enjoying playing together.

The light show tonight is incredible, with a ceiling full of tube lights that all can be adjusted individually, both in lighting and vertical position. This way it can form dazzling patterns and sometimes even an arch of light. Together with the huge screens on stage there's plenty to see. In between the songs there are small jams of course, where the band is goofing around. 'Magic Johnson', from the classic Mother's Milk, springs from a little chat about Flea's newest tattoo. The band doesn't seem to have the song about the legendary LA Lakers team from the eighties prepared and in the end Kiedis is surprised they actually are able to play it although he is not joining on vocals to sing the lightning fast lyrics.

For the encore Klinghoffer leads off all by himself to sing the Leonard Cohen song 'Anthem', which is even more appropriate now Cohen has passed away, something Klinghoffer couldn't have been aware of. A snippet of Black Sabbath's 'War Pigs' follows where the band is looking a bit lost in one of their jams and Kiedis is walking off and on stage a couple of times. We go way back with 'Mommy, Where's Daddy?' from their first album in 1984 where they were a couple of goof balls that played exciting new rock music that impressed George Clinton a lot and close the night with a rocking and convincing 'Give It Away'. Nowadays the Red Hot Chili Peppers have grown older and more subdued. You could say the Red Hot Chili Peppers are less spicy now than they used to but still can cook up a delicious live show.

All Pictures

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01. Intro Jam
02. Around the World
03. Dani California
04. Scar Tissue
05. Dark Necessities
06. Hey
07. Me & My Friends
08. Go Robot
09. Californication
10. Sick Love
11. Sir Psycho Sexy
12. They're Red Hot
13. Ethiopia
14. Magic Johnson
15. Suck My Kiss
16. Under the Bridge
17. By the Way
18. Anthem
19. War Pigs
20. Goodbye Angels
21. Mommy, Where's Daddy?
22. Give It Away

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