The Red Hot Chili Peppers have been doing the festival circuit around the world in recent months and took the time to stop off in Perth for T in the Park after headlining Park Live in Moscow the day before. Of the 200,000+ T in the Park attendees they pulled a fair crowd with LCD Soundsystem pulling an embarrassingly low figure. Either way the festival is Scotland’s biggest party and the Chili Peppers closed nicely.
So the crowd are limber and ready after a workout and a half from Chase and Status merely 40 minutes beforehand. The Scots, as always, were well and truly up for it which was proven when they erupted into cheers when Chad Smith, dressed in an all white getup, swans onto the stage followed closely by Flea and Klinghoffer. A jam commences in an admittedly unusual start to the show. The jam transforms into the opening of Can’t Stop as Kiedis struts out with that signature confidence, suddenly it felt like it was 2002. The crowd are loving it just as much as the band are, singing that famous riff louder than poor Klinghoffer’s guitar.
They run through the motions of the fan favourites like Snow (Hey Oh) and Scar Tissue without faltering for a second. Dark Necessities is where things get interesting. They introduce their pianist and an extra guitarist before this one and Flea launches that bass line. The roar that runs through the crowd is unparalleled and the band are feeding off the energy. The track gave the four-piece a new lease of life and it was evident that Kiedis-Flea duo turned into the Kiedis-Flea-Klinghoffer trio as they work together more seamlessly on songs from the latter two albums.
Admittedly replacing the likes of Dani California, Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie and even new songs like We Turn Red that seemed perfect for a festival with the likes of If You Have To Ask and Nobody Weird Like Me seemed like a bit of an oversight. Otherside, however, was an unexpected joy expressed by myself and about 50,000 others.
For a group of fifty-somethings and a thirty-something they’re keeping good shape. Kiedis didn’t miss a note, Flea jumped around like his eponymous creature, Smith was sitting back loving every second in his white bell-bottoms and Klinghoffer spiraled round the stage like a hurricane. They were a fantastic end to the festival and my personal favourite moment was belting out the chorus of Under The Bridge, I’d never quite experienced unity in a crowd like I did that night and truth be told I don’t think I will again. It was front to back, side to side even the security marshals shared that arms open moment with the crowd. I’ve seen AC/DC, I’ve seen the Foo Fighters but neither experience stand up to that one song. Between the flares going off left, right and centre, the mud and the crowd there was a magic in the air.
They ended on a spectacle of a finale with Give It Away being a welcome addition to the setlist and the new Goodbye Angels as a treat for the Strathallen crowd. As the show ended whatever magical spell they had over the weather ended and the sky opened up a biblical rain as we all left the site. There was a slightly-downtrodden-but-still-there buzz on the bus back to Perth as we had a singalong to Otherside and Universally Speaking.
All in all, they were everything I wanted them to be and I don’t care about the Frusciante vs. Klinghoffer argument, Josh is a perfectly talented and able guitarist in his own right and did every song justice. If you get the chance to see them then do so, you may love to hate them but they sure as hell know how to put on a performance. I’ve been listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers since Stadium Arcadium and I’ve loved other bands since but for this one day I was ten years old again and nothing but this four-some mattered.