USA (New Jersey), Oct 17, 2006
DanitheGirl, on january 10, 2007 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: The Mars Volta (openers for the Chili Peppers) walked onto the stage at precisely 7:30 pm, lacking in pretension or even any acknowledgement that they shared the room with about 20, 000 other people. In fact, except for singer Cedric Bixler Zavala's occasional seizure-dancing across the stage, the members of the band did not interact with the audience at all, which was both strange and refreshing, and paired well with the band's hour-long set of pure sound manipulation. Not having heard much of the Mars Volta's work before this concert, it seemed to me that the Mars Volta's set consisted of one extremely long song, created by taking advantage of feedback and sound distortion techniques to produce a trance-like, space-age sound that was occasionally interrupted by Zavala's Robert Plant-like howling. However, I later learned that the band had in fact played several distinct songs, including the well-known Drunkship Of Lanterns, the song that showcased the most Plant-like wailings. For the most part, the members of the band stood in one place on the stage and ignored their audience, but the sound they created was easy enough to dance to and was very unique, as even what looked like a giant set of bongos was brought out and incorporated into their act.
After a half-hour of set-up and burgeoning anticipation, three of the four Chili Peppers (Flea, on bass, John Frusciante, on guitar, and Chad Smith, on drums) walked onto the stage and began to perform what seemed like an improvisational jam session; when singer Anthony Kiedis joined his band mates on stage a few minutes later, the jam turned into Can't Stop, from their 2002 album By the Way. The friction which had been rumored to be present between band mates before and during the creation of Stadium Arcadium was undetectable by watching the Chili Peppers play. Kiedis, the strongest or at least the most notorious personality in the group, strutted back and forth between Flea and Frusciante, sharing microphones, dances and knowing gestures and glances with them, indicating that the band was, for the most part, getting along, at least for the sake of their music. However, it was noted that Kiedis arrived onstage at least five minutes after the rest of his band, and then left about ten minutes before Flea, Frusciante and Smith were finished playing, allowing them time to create instrumental jams but giving the impression that Kiedis is somehow separated from the rest of the band. Aside from this one observation, the chemistry between the band mates was undeniable, as they played off each others' energy, as well as the energy of the audience, to produce an intense and nonstop two hours of music, during which their old material was played with the same vigor and liveliness as their new work.
The two-hour set included many songs from Stadium Arcadium, but songs from the Chili Peppers' last two albums, By the Way (2002) and Californication (1999), were also performed. While most of their biggest hit singles were played, such as the songs that these two albums were titled after, the band also incorporated some B-side tracks from these two albums into it's set, creating an unexpected and eclectic mix of their work. The band even reached back as far as 1987, playing Me and My Friends from The Uplift Mofo Party Plan, an album that was recorded before Frusciante and Smith were even in the band. Frusciante's guitar solos in almost every song performed also caught the crowd's excitement, as the audience waited in mounting anticipation as he approached the climax of each solo, and then would scream in unison as he raged past it, sometimes playing so hard that he wound up lying on the ground at the end of his solo. Although drummer Chad Smith had told SPIN magazine this past May that the upcoming tour was going to be the F--kin' John Frusciante rock show because of the abundance of guitar solos on the new album, Frusciante's prolific solos didn't steal the show but rather added an element of musical complexity and almost maturity to the concert, enrapturing the audience and demonstrating Frusciante's prowess and versatility as a musician. Frusciante was, however, the only member to perform solo throughout the night, playing a cover of Carole King's Will You Love Me Tomorrow? and thus adding to the evening's eclectic mix of musical numbers and showcasing his melodic, airy vocals, previously only heard as back-up to Kiedis'. // 10
Perfomance: The pyrotechnics and special effects used at the show were minimal, with the most elaborate effect being the white confetti that was sprayed on the audience during the Chili Peppers' performance of the song Snow (Hey Oh). However, elaborate effects were not needed, and may have even taken away from, the Chili Peppers' down-to-earth and energetic performance. While Kiedis' crazy strutting and dancing seemed almost off-rhythm at times, watching him recklessly jump up and down even during the slower parts of songs incited the crowd to go wild and added to the sincerity and lack of pretension associated with the Chili Peppers' performance. Unlike the Mars Volta, the Chili Peppers, mostly Flea (arguably the most charismatic member of the band) attempted to converse with their audience, although the acoustics in the arena were so poor that from where I was sitting, I couldn't make out anything they were saying.
Judging by their performance, one would not be able to tell that the members of the Chili Peppers are approaching their mid-forties (with the exception of Frusciante) and have been performing for over twenty years (the band was formed in 1983). Playing off of each other and off of their audience, the Chili Peppers delivered a performance that was so seamless that it appeared professional and rehearsed and, at the same time, so energetic and fresh that it seemed to be as spontaneous as Flea, Smith and Frusciante's opening and closing jams and Kiedis' outlandish dance moves. While the music played at the concert showed that the Red Hot Chili Peppers have, as a band, grown and developed significantly, transcending their image as the group of guys Who wear only strategically placed tube socks and perform novelty rap songs about sex, the performance itself showed that the Chili Peppers haven't lost the offbeat energy and playful mischievousness, as well as the ability to not take themselves seriously, that made them famous in the first place. The only disappointment was that the set itself was much too short, and the end of the show left me wanting to hear much more Live Chili Peppers music. // 9
Overall Impression: The Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey was just one stop on the Mars Volta and Red Hot Chili Peppers' multi-city North American tour, but enough energy was exuded by both the performers and the crowd to merit making this concert the only one in their lineup. The Chili Peppers launched this tour in late summer in order to promote their Stadium Arcadium album (released in May 2006), and, along with special guests the Mars Volta as their opening act, will be touring until early winter. Tickets cost $60, but the show was well worth the money, and I will definitely be going to see the Chili Peppers again! // 9