I used to attend Leeds Festival every year until I switched to just Download with the line-ups becoming less and less to my liking at Branham Park. But, as a die hard Red Hot Chili Peppers fan, I needed no persuasion to purchase a day ticket solely to see my favourite band live again.
I actually made a sort of vow to see RHCP at least once whenever they play the UK, so this was not an opportunity to miss.
As always, they didn’t disappoint – playing a range of classic tracks as well as a couple from the new album, The Getaway, which I’ll review at a later time. So, here’s my take on how the gig went.
Call me bias, but it’s hard not to love a Chili Peppers gig as a die hard fan.
It doesn’t take a musical genius to know they still have it, despite the obvious fact that age-driven fatigue may well be creeping in for the LA funk rockers who formed four years before I was even born. I’ve seen frontman Kiedis sing a wrong line or two in the past but, to be fair, I’m liable to doing that myself when performing, because I have a terrible memory. Vocally, his voice remains strong.
If you know anything about singing, it’s a cold hard fact that it comes naturally to some, and not so naturally for others. I think I read somewhere once that Kiedis is in the latter category, which makes sense when you see how his vocals have developed over time. Don’t get me wrong – you need to have some natural ability to hold a note; but some singers are born with it, and others have to work on what they have.
I know I did.
Their stage presence hasn’t lost any of its vitality. Flea was still slapping his bass and strutting around like a teenager on drugs, violently shaking his head and making that beautiful four-string talk. Chad Smith is still smashing his kit, which can’t be easy the older you get. Drummers have the most physical work when compared to the rest of the band. And the latest axe-man, Josh Kinghoffer, who, to be fair, is almost two decades younger than the rest of the band, is a phenomenally talented guitarist, and he knows how to throw himself around and have a good time on stage.
So their age isn’t spoiling the show.
On the subject solely of Josh though, I read recently that he was a bit unsure about how he was being received by RHCP fans since joining the band. He appears to be the quiet/shy type, and I’ve read before that he was the kid in school who never really socialised with people, and just played his guitar. When you end up being the guitarist for one of the biggest bands in the world, the sacrifice has clearly paid off! But, as a die hard RHCP fan, I want to put my clear voice across on this:
Josh – you’re doing a great job. Seriously.
I’ve seen some (possibly plastic) fans slating him with the usual jibes of “he’ll never be Frusciante” and, yes, you’re right; he never will be. But he’s not trying to be either. Like most bands, RHCP’s sound has evolved over time, and the critique of how the band’s sound is developing is about whether it’s evolving stably and sensibly. I was sceptical about the idea of the band without Frusciante, especially since a lot of their identity has been with him for a long time. He and original guitarist Hillel Slovak certainly have a lot of similarities. But Josh has taken the sound in a different direction without losing the core feel of their music in my view. It’s healthily unique, but still RHCP.
It helps that the first album under the new line-up is, I expect, a “later album” in terms of the overall longevity of the band, which will of course have to come to an end at some point (and a dark day that shall be). The sound of I’m With You was, for me, the evolution of RHCP in to their twilight years, and when you see them live on a famous stage like that at Branham Park - mixing the old with the new - it’s easy to see how the sound has evolved without compromising the core feel.
All in all, I say with absolutely no bias at all that it was another great RHCP gig. They still have it, and the crowd were in good voice, which reflects the fact I can say with certainty that it was a top quality show.
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