Live Review: Red Hot Chili Peppers — Staples Center
Sun, 12 Aug 2012 11:24:16
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Early on during the band's first of two sold out shows at the Staples Center, Red Hot Chili Peppers singer Anthony Kiedis gleefully exclaimed, "I feel like a club band in an arena".
That statement set the tone for the entire evening.
Kiedis, bass legend Flea, drum demon Chad Smith, and guitar god Josh Klinghoffer certainly rocked the stage like it stood in front of a sweaty Hollywood club instead of a massive hallowed events center. That's one of many reasons why Red Hot Chili Peppers remain the greatest living American rock band. Their formidable energy can't be surpassed by their contemporaries or newcomers. Plus, they've got the chops to back up their status as kings. They're completely in a league of their own.
From the moment Klinghoffer exorcised a ratcheting hum from his guitar on I'm With You gig opener "Monarchy of Roses", the band never stopped moving, running, and jumping—while playing flawlessly mind you. It was utterly kinetic too. The rumble of thundering drums from Smith, Flea's heavy warble, and Kiedis's commanding poise led "Monarchy of Roses" to triumph early on.
Klinghoffer effortlessly wailed from crushing metallic riffs into the soaring chorus as the gigantic L.E.D. wall behind the group lit up in unison with the transition. Kiedis leapt from haunting to hypnotic, emanating the kind of charisma only rock divinities have. Simultaneously, Flea siphoned the groove through his fleet-fingered funk, conjuring four-string wizardry unlike anything out there in the process. Smith hit so hard and tight he could've caused an earthquake, and everything cascaded into a wondrous start to an unforgettable evening.
"Around the World" commenced with more bass virtuosity from Flea as Klinghoffer ripped a spellbinding lead. His punked-out guitar begat a marvelous noise rock chaos that fit perfectly with the flood of strobe lights. As with all of the material, Klinghoffer brought something distinct to the table. "Snow (Hey Oh)" felt like 21st century doo-wop as carried by Kiedis's heavenly delivery. "Otherside" illuminated just how powerful of a voice he is and always will be. He carried the poetic and poignant Californication gem. "Look Around" and "She's Only 18" bordered on psychedelic as Smith and Flea locked into an entrancing groove.
The duo can't be topped as far as rhythm sections go. They match each other perfectly, while never doubling. The chemistry was simply magical, most notably as they weaved the set together through the improvisation. "Can't Stop" punched, pushed, and pulled with a swagger any rapper would kill for, while "Soul to Squeeze" and "'Under the Bridge"—the band's "Stairway to Heaven"—brought everyone close into the band's warm embrace. After a raucous "Goodbye Hooray", "Californication" and "By The Way" demanded arena-wide singing.
For the encore, "Ethiopia" rocked snugly and fittingly between "Suck My Kiss" and "Give It Away", upping the bombast for one final explosion. The entire time the audience never diverted their eyes from the stage. Red Hot Chili Peppers had invoked all kinds of love from a myriad of Angelenos. It wasn't like seeing a club band in an arena. It was better. It was like seeing Red Hot Chili Peppers.
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