Too glittery for grunge, not heavy enough for the head-bangers, Red Hot Chili Peppers have enjoyed a remarkably prodigious career as rock’s step children.
They were at their jittery finest as they returned to Dublin for two dates rescheduled after singer Anthony Kiedis was struck down with illness last Christmas.
Anthems such as ‘Scar Tissue’ and ‘Californication’ established the Los Angelenos as thoughtful hedonists through the 1990s and that same blend of exuberance and vulnerability was on display at a sold-out 3Arena.
‘Can’t Stop’ and ‘Dani California’ were full of swagger, yet with bitter-sweet overtones, and delivered with sugar-rush zeal by fidgety bassist Flea and a galloping Kiedis, who spent most of the concert dashing about the stage.
With a new (ish) album, The Getaway, to promote, there was an inevitable mid-set lull as the band ploughed through the generic ‘Dark Necessities’ and ‘Go Robot’ (appropriately a song that seemed to have been written on autopilot).
But they were surprises too. Guitarist Josh Klinghoffer announcement himself with a punk swagger during a blistering cover of The Stooges’s ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ while long-serving fans will have appreciated a catalogue deep dive into ‘Blood Sugar Sex Magik’, the title track from their 1991 break-out LP.
Twenty-five years from their early run of hits, the Chili Peppers remain highly divisive, with those who should know better typically dismissing the group as gauche funkateers.
The truth is that they’re one of rock’s great survivors, having come through the death of grunge, the rise of rap-metal and the dismantling of the music industry through the 2000s (to say nothing of the departure, twice over, of virtuoso guitarist John Frusciante).
A lot of water has travelled under the bridge — but the Chili Peppers are still here, making a glamorous racket.
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