At the start, Chad Smith sauntered up to his drum kit with Flea and Josh Klinghoffer closely behind to kick off a ‘warm-up’ jam session of sorts. The multiple layers of funk notes and grooves transitioned into the opening bassline for Can’t Stop and Anthony Kiedis came bounding onto the stage to sing-rap the punk-funk classic from By The Way (2002).
Next came Fortune Faded, the first of a few songs taken from the Rick Rubin produced Greatest Hits album in 2003 followed by the colossal Scar Tissue with the first extended guitar solo at the end by Klinghoffer.
A mix of the old and the new continued on with more jam sessions between Flea and Klinghoffer which showed a special bond between the two and how much the band have embraced the talents and company of the most recent Chili.
A beefy looking Anthony Kiedis sang and rapped confidently throughout the night… almost lovingly at times before abruptly switching to full predator mode and leaping from one end of the stage to the other. Bare-chested and resembling a younger Iggy Pop with a John Holmes moustache, the RCHP frontman appeared to be in fine form although his vocal audio levels had a touch more echo or delay than necessary in some parts. Nonetheless, Iggy would have approved of RHCP's I Wanna Be Your Dog.
Very little had changed with regards to Michael Peter Balzary aka Flea’s onstage presence and comical antics... the same applied to his incredible mastery of the bass which has led to collaborations with rock supergroups Atoms for Peace (with Thom Yorke), Rocket Juice & the Moon (with Damon Albarn) and more. The funky interludes and improvisations on each song by Flea remain the highlight of every RHCP performance.
Watching Chad Smith pound on the skins and crashing cymbals was both enthralling and therapeutic (cue air drum solo)... the different drumming patterns, rolls and improvisations throughout the show just made the serving of each song that much more spicier.
Ten years later after joining the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2009, Josh Klinghoffer is (and will always be) still performing partly in the shadow of John Frusciante. This is because both guitarists are polar opposites, play differently and Klinghoffer has to replicate the Frusciante elements of past RHCP songs. Absolutely nothing wrong with that and truth be told, version 4 of the band have enabled RHCP to push the boundaries of their well-known funk-rock sound (well, try to anyway). Klinghoffer went for a more aggressive guitar sound... with wild chaka-chaka rhythms, screaming solos and wails (which all started to sound the same regardless of how many guitars changed hands).
The same recipe was applied in the second half of the night with older songs like Throw Away Your Television, Californication and I Like Dirt mixed in with newer tracks, Go Robot and The Getaway from the most recent RCHP album released in 2016, produced this time by Brian Burton, aka Danger Mouse. More tracks from the Rick Rubin-RHCP Greatest Hits album in the form of Higher Ground and Soul To Squeeze was also played.
Overall, the audio mix of the show was OK… too dry for this writer’s liking but it matched well with the present jam-band style of the RHCP and the sold-out crowd were not fussed at all… often trying to sing each song louder than the next. Californication and By The Way were the obvious crowd favourites.
Even though Dani California, Snow and Rain Dance Maggie failed to appear on stage, the Red Hot Chili Peppers gave a no-nonsense, straight-up funk-filled night with a punky edge. We just need them to come back and play in New Zealand more often.