September 3, 2006

Red Hot Chili Peppers triumph in homecoming

By Erik Pedersen

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - "I had some of the best
times of my life in this building," rubber-spined bassist Flea
said of the crusty but trusty Forum. And judging from the wild
response to Red Hot Chili Peppers' homecoming show Thursday,
many in the sold-out house would count this among theirs.

The veteran quartet left little doubt that it remains in
its prime with a stellar two-hour show that mixed '70s funk and
punk with their neo-signature mellow grooves. From the opening
instrumental funk jam through big hits, a few deep album cuts
and oddball covers, the band delivered a typically entertaining
and energetic set that would have pleased everyone from James
Brown and George Clinton to the Clash to any number of guitar

With 10 of the night's 20-odd songs coming from their two
most recent albums, the Chilis have no interest in simply
trotting out their old radio standbys. But for a revved-up
crowd ranging from tykes to salt-and-pepper beards, the set
list gave them all something to cheer. The recent top 10 pop
single "Dani California" was dispatched early on, and the
oldest in the crowd got a chance to recollect with 1987's "Me &
My Friends," before which singer Anthony Kiedis and Flea
reminisced about old L.A.-area dives they played way back in
the day.

Again sporting long hair and remaining shirted throughout,
Kiedis was less kinetic and not in his strongest voice, but his
vocals still resonate. Guitarist John Frusciante, meanwhile,
has never been better. He added outstanding solos to nearly
every song, employing more '70s wail than '80s shred, flecked
with wah-wah and accented by pained guitar-god faces.

Flea reminded the room why he's the most influential
bassist of his generation. From the heaviest thumps to
finger-numbing speed playing that would humble a hair-metal
guitarist, he continues to be the group's core. He pounded out
P-Funk and L.A. punk with equal ferocity, while drummer Chad
Smith added his smooth blend of speed and sock, along with
showboat stick tricks.

For all their minimalist power, the Chilis have no trouble
keeping up the momentum while slowing down the tempo. "Don't
Forget Me," their spin on the power ballad, featured a majestic
groove that fed an old-time stage flail by Kiedis. Another
highlight among many was "Blood Sugar Sex Magik," whose dirty
riff careened around the dusty rafters, with Frusciante's
bracing lead recalling Ernie Isley. The best of the half-dozen
tracks from the current "Stadium Arcadium" album was "Charlie,"
a James Brown-styled funk thang punctuated by Frusciante's
staccato licks.

There's no denying that many of the Chilis' songs from the
past decade-plus have similar-sounding melodies and often lack
the explosiveness of the older material. But their rock is pure
and without pretense -- soothing, then jarring.

Flea fairly summed up this terrific show from one of the
world's biggest bands: "I see you old people dancing and little
babies jumping up and down."

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter