Red Hot Chili Peppers at KFC Yum! Center (Louisville, KY 5/16/17)

Before I get into the concert review, I want to point out how cool it was of RHCP to have Jack Irons go on tour with them as an opening act. Jack Irons was the original founding drummer of RHCP and stayed with the band for five years. I was quite excited to see him perform because of the rich history he has settled in 90’s rock. Not only was he a founding member of RHCP, but he also worked with Pearl Jam on their albums No Code and Yield. He even did all the drumming for Neil Young and Pearl Jam’s collaborative album, Mirror Ball. I’m a massive Pearl Jam fan, so to see the man who did all the drum tracks on those albums was a real treat. Before playing his solo-drum set, Jack was introduced to the crowd by Flea, founding-bassist of RHCP. Flea talked about him and Jack forming the band as well as meeting him all the way back in sixth grade. It was courteous of Flea to do that and I bet Jack really appreciated it. Once Flea finished introducing Jack, the show started with synth-heavy trippy instrumental music. Jack created the music to go along with his incredible drumming pieces. Jack definitely was one of the more bizarre-sounding artists I’ve seen, but I really enjoyed it.

After second opening act Irontom left the stage, it was finally time for RHCP to shine and bring back the nostalgic memories so many fans yearned for. Chad Smith, Josh Klinghoffer, and Flea kicked out the jams on an instrumental piece to get the crowd pumping and ecstatic until Anthony Kiedis hit the stage to perform their first song. A barrage of hits ensued including “Around the World”, “Dani California”, and “Scar Tissue”. During “Scar Tissue”, the crowd erupted into a karaoke sing-a-long for the entirety of the song. This was the case for the majority of the larger hits played throughout the night.

After the trio of nostalgic hits, the band brought us back into present day with a single off their most recent release, The Getaway. Throughout the night, they sprinkled in here and there songs off that album. These included: “Dark Necessities”, “Go Robot”, “This Ticonderoga”, and “Goodbye Angels”. Personally, I thought the album was very well produced and had a lot of fantastic tracks. It’s their best release since Stadium Arcadium for sure. I was very surprised they played “This Ticonderoga”, it being the third time they have ever played it live. It wasn’t one of the leading hits off the record, most likely because it was very unique and different sounding from the rest of the album. I found it fascinating how the pitch changed quite frequently throughout the song. Most bands tend to avoid producing songs with such an odd sudden shift in tempo.

Not only did they play brand new music, they also reached back and managed to fit a song into the show off their debut 1984 self-titled album, The Red Hot Chili Peppers. “Mommy, Where’s Daddy?” was the only song they played off of it. This was the fourth time they’ve played it since 1999. Personally, I hated and loved the fact that they played it. Instrumentally, this song is so groovy and funky I can’t help but like it. On the contrary, the lyrics are quite possibly the creepiest songwriting I have ever heard. I would much rather hear “Police Helicopter” or “Out in L.A.” as the song they chose off their debut.

            Other songs of the main set included: “I Wanna Be Your Dog (The Stooges cover)”, “Right on Time”, “Ethiopia”, “Californication”, “Parallel Universe”, “Higher Ground (Stevie Wonder cover)”, “Soul to Squeeze”, and “By the Way”. I really enjoyed the mix of new music, classic hits, covers, and lesser-known songs throughout the set. Little known fact about RHCP is that each set is different from the rest. Die-hard fans like to travel and follow the band around their entire tour, so the band will make sure to keep the setlist fresh and change it up every night. This of course means they won’t play every single hit since they have so many. There were quite a few songs they didn’t play that I wanted to hear such as “Otherside”, “Can’t Stop”, “Under the Bridge”, “Snow (Hey Oh)”, “Wet Sand”, and “Suck My Kiss”. However, I didn’t mind it too much because the setlist was fantastic and they played a lot of fantastic hits. My personal favorite of the hits played was “Soul to Squeeze”. I’ve always loved it and was so excited when they started playing it. I find it humorous that “Soul to Squeeze” actually ended up becoming a hit considering it was a B-side to Blood Sugar Sex Magik and was never released on an official studio release. They closed their main set with “By The Way”, the leading single off their 2002 release of the same name.

            Five minutes of roaring ensued afterwards. The applaud and shouting was so loud that it filled the venue with noise that seamed louder than the music was itself. Many people in the crowd got their lighters and phone flashlights out to welcome back RHCP to finish what they started. To open up their encore, RHCP played “Goodbye Angels”, a song off their new album that I had mentioned before. The overall build-up throughout the song was very powerful, exploding into a bass-solo lead by Flea. “Goodbye Angels” is definitely one of the best and more underrated songs off the release. Closing out the night, the band played “Give It Away”, a hit single off their 1991 release Blood Sugar Sex Magik. This release is considered the Magnum Opus of RHCP’s discography, so it only makes sense they would close out the night with a hit off of it. My only complaint about the performance of “Give It Away” is that the tempo was noticeably slower than the original studio release. Other than that, I believe “Give It Away” was a very strong way to close out the night.

            Focusing more on the music rather than what was performed, I have to say the music itself was absolutely fantastic. Instrumentally, this was the grooviest concert I’ve been to in the past five years of attending concerts. The chemistry between Chad Smith and Flea was unreal. Chad’s drumming was so jazzy and clean that it was impossible to not fall in love with it. Flea on the other hand, his bass playing shook the arena in a way I’ve never heard before. I think Flea is now solidified as my favorite bassist that I’ve seen perform. I used to think Nikki Monninger of Silversun Pickups was the coolest bassist, but Flea definitely blew that belief out of the water. Someone must have forgotten to tell Flea that the bass isn’t a lead instrument, because he sure played the hell out of it. Often, the band added an extended intro or outro to the songs for an extra kick. I enjoyed this quite a bit because it added a little bit of ambiguity as to what they were about to play next. My biggest complaint about the music itself was Anthony Kiedis seemed to hold the band down in a few ways. The way he sang didn’t really push out the same passion that you hear on the studio albums. It just seemed as if he wasn’t very interested in being there. I’ve actually heard that a lot from fans that have seen them before. Anthony tends not to put as much power behind his voice that he could and should be doing. Now by no means did he sound bad. He actually sounded very good; you could just tell the passion was not there. I can only recall him talking to the crowd once while Flea talked to the crowd very often. I think crowd participation is very important in concerts because it makes the overall show more intimate.

            Aside from the music, the show itself was phenomenal. For the entirety of the tour, the band has implemented a massive kinetic light installation. This is the largest kinetic light installation to ever be taken on a concert tour. As I watched the lights bob up and down rhythmically, I just couldn’t imagine how many hours it took to program it and get it all set up. Definitely one of the more impressive shows I’ve been to visually. You can tell there was a lot of time and effort put into setting up the show as well as programming it to do certain movements and patterns during specific songs.

            Overall, RHCP was brilliant and I definitely want to go back and see them again very soon. I am glad they enjoy performing different sets every night. Pearl Jam does that as well, and I find It very respectable of bands that do that for the fans. Sucks seeing an artist you love several times and they play the exact setlist every time. Luckily, with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, you don’t have to worry about that!

Setlist:

1.      Intro Jam

2.      Around the World

3.      Dani California

4.      Scar Tissue

5.      Dark Necessities

6.      Mommy, Where's Daddy?

7.      I Wanna Be Your Dog (The Stooges cover)

8.      Right on Time

9.      Ethiopia

10.  Go Robot

11.  Californication

12.  This Ticonderoga

13.  Parallel Universe

14.  Higher Ground (Stevie Wonder cover)

15.  Soul to Squeeze

16.  By the Way

Encore:

17.  Goodbye Angels

18.  Give It Away

 

-Chatman