Red Hot Chili Peppers Rock Out In England

Red Hot Chili Peppers
Hyde Park
June 19, 2004
Twenty years into a career that has juxtaposed more euphoria and sadness than your average soap opera, tonight is an occasion for L.A's Red Hot Chili Peppers.
72,000 fans and a plethora of random celebrities (including Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe) have come together in London's Hyde Park to experience the Chili's biggest ever English headlining show, with a devoted few even camping overnight to secure a spot.

Psychedelic alt girl-group 'Chicks On Speed' opened proceedings, immediately defying all expectations and stereotypes. Right now the only word for them is 'adventurous'!

Their sound manipulation of beats, vox and electric violin gingerly skirts the quivering divide between genius and absurdity and certainly proved too difficult for the moronic few who's bottle and booze led to the Chicks' early departure.

With the Godfather Of Soul James Brown set to follow, the lack of crowd respect was seriously un-nerving and a worrying precedent.

Thankfully the masses appeared transfixed by the Vegas-style show put on by the soul legend and his entourage, with almost total participation during classics like 'I Got You' and 'Sex Machine'.
Moving effortlessly through his moves throughout, The Godfather's deft grooves and athleticism will surely keep any old age outreach programmes at bay for many more years, and inspire a new generation of funk-fuelled musicality.

In the past, Red Hot Chili Peppers shows have seen the band largely lean on the Frusciante eras, whilst also traversing their extensive funky catalogue.
To contrast, tonight's performance is not just an occasion for the Chili's, it is a departure.

On this Greatest Hits tour, the funk-rock fusion that became the band's signature has been downplayed in favour of the neo-guitar pop that characterized their 'Californication' and 'By The Way' albums.
The set-list shines with such examples as 'Otherside', 'The Zephyr Song' and 'Californication', but the absence of older material will have disappointed hardcore fans. Even breakthrough album 'BloodSugarSexMagik' was only mined for three tracks.

Following a brief Frusciante led jam, the band roll right into hit single 'Can't Stop', initiating the crowd to move as one to the bass led grooves as Flea's genius resonates through London. Leading straight into crowd favourite 'Around The World', this is the funk all but done for the evening; bar the surprise inclusion of 'Get On Top' and 'I Like Dirt'.

The eager crowd devours hit after hit but many seem somewhat lost by the unearthing of the old school 'My Lovely Man', beautifully dedicated to late guitarist Hillel Slovack. One of the only tracks lifted from BSSM, the passion and love of the band for the man continues to shine through the melodies and capped off an evolutionary show for many fans.

As always, the Chili's throw some choice covers into the mix, with John Frusciante's rendition of Donna Summer's 'I Feel Love' being a particular highlight and further showcasing the enormous talent and visceral emotion he has to offer any song.

The growing confidence of Frusciante is most noticeable during 'Under The Bridge', the band's bittersweet heroin love song.
The past has seen him perch on speaker stands to gently strum his way through the emotional journey of the tune, his face only sometimes betraying a flit of a smile. Today Frusciante is out on the side of the stage grinning at the crowd and enthusiastically bouncing back to his band.

Ending with the anthemic 'Give It Away', the energy of the band is still wholly present despite the apparent change of focus. Fans must not fear change, but the impression was given that it was not only fans present as a bottle whistled past Anthony Kiedis on his departure, moments after thanking those gathered for a lovely gig.

Despite this, the show was closed with a Flea/Frusciante jam and the guitarist exclaiming it was a wonderful time to be alive. For fans, there was nothing more touching or heartening that could end such a show.

Writer: Dave Hardwick

Photo:Dave Hardwick

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