Red Hot Chilli Peppers
Lansdowne Road, Dublin, June 25th 2002
"Kings of funk-rock"; one of the many grandiose titles used to describe the Red Hot Chilli Peppers over the years. And over 20 of those years later, the Peppers continue to be a prevailing force to rock music. With their popularity as skyward as ever and a new album about to be released, it's no wonder that Lansdowne Road is a sell-out. For once this year, there's no danger of rain, making it a perfect night for one of the last worthwhile outdoor gigs of the summer.
The first warm-up act of the evening was The Walls (or as some would call them, The Stunning reincarnated). It's good to see Joe & Steve Wall back on the main stage, even though the band seemed a little taken aback by the magnitude of the occasion. While their music is somewhat less driven than the days of The Stunning, their crafted set of songs rang out through the arena for almost an hour and earned them deserved recognition from the crowd. Wisely, they delivered a shining finale with their catchy and upcoming single "To the Bright and Shining Sun", (a song everyone recognised from TV adverts for AIB). The Walls are still climbing the ladder, and their slot at this gig is certain to have helped them along the way.
Next up were New Order, another band of over 20 years' experience. Unfortunately,
through no fault of their own, their performance was somewhat marred, thanks to
poor sound reproduction in Lansdowne Road. Other gigs in the past have fallen victim
to the same curse, and I for one, feel that this is a serious problem for the venue.
Throughout their set, the microphones were turned up far too high with a consequence
of the vocals being over-driven and echoed, making it practically impossible to
comprehend any of the lyrics. It even inspired an agitated verbal outburst from
the bassist, deservedly aimed at the engineers. Nevertheless, the show went on.
The best and most noticeable characteristic of the set was the career-spanning range
of songs, performed with the class we've come to expect. They played an inspirational
hybrid of their older hard-hitting rock songs combined with some of their more discotheque-type
dance tunes. "Transmission", "Love Will Tear Us Apart" and "She's Lost Control"
relived their Joy Division days, while "Bizarre Love Triangle" reminds us of more
famous hits that followed later in their career. Other highlights included the excellent
"Temptation", before bowing out with the classic dance tune "Blue Monday". All in
all, New Order - despite the sound problems - managed to sound as fresh and inspiring
today as they were 2 decades ago.
After the usual long wait, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers kicked off with their new single "By The Way". With a stage presence seemingly bigger than the stage itself, they thrilled the crowd with one hit after another, mostly from the Californication and Blood Sugar Sex Magik albums. Kiedis' vocals (even for Lansdowne Road) were predominant during the performance; Balzary (a.k.a "Flea") reproduced those famous bass riffs perfectly, which are vital to so many of the Peppers' tunes. Flea was as wired to the moon as ever, and he proved to be the real entertainer of the night. Guitarist John Frusciante, a relatively new addition to the band, proved his worth to the live scene and he also took the lead vocals for a cover.
"Scar Tissue", "Parallel Universe" and the excellent "Otherside" from the Californication album were all notable highlights, while "Funky Monks", "I Could have Lied" and the unforgettable "Give It Away" constantly had the crowd on their feet. It was the type of gig that made you wonder where the next great song was going to come from, and then it was handed to you right there and then. Combined with 3 new tracks from the forthcoming album, and a couple of early Peppers' songs, it was a magnificent set, and one of its most enjoyable moments was "Californication". There's no other way to say this, but the audience went nuts for the song. While it was being played, one enthusiastic young fan even climbed a 40-foot speaker stand in the middle of pitch, earning quite a bit of recognition for himself, before being "escorted" from the arena. Unfortunately for him, he missed the encore performance, which opened with the emotional "Under The Bridge", a song that was sung by 40,000 people as well as Kiedis. The gig never slowed with "Power of Equality" proving to be another highlight towards the end.
20 years as a band, and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers still produce the magic on stage. This gig out-lived its hype and it must be the perfect appetiser for fans on the eve of the new album's release. With the pub-rock mediocrity of the Stereophonics and Oasis headlining the two main events left in Ireland's music calendar, rest assured that this gig will be considered one of the best, if not the best gig of 2002.