It’s been more than a year since the Red Hot Chili Peppers released I’m With You, which found the band seemingly reinvigorated thanks in no small part to adding Josh Klinghoffer as an official member of the group.
After scoring a few radio hits with the new album and playing a huge number of shows, the Chili Peppers stopped at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City on Monday for an exercise in funk.
Opening with Monarchy of Roses, Flea and Chad Smith were quickly deep into the pocket, providing an almost disco-tinged funk rhythm while Josh held his own on guitar. It was instantly clear that Josh has really come into his own with the band and even though he was largely perched on a stool on the right side of the stage thanks to a busted foot, he poured as much energy as possible into the show.
The ultra-poppy hit Dani California made a surprisingly early appearance in the set, which really served as an indication of just how many major songs the band has released over the last few decades. Tease them all you want for having an endless supply of songs about California but the Chili Peppers have certainly made their mark on the radio and music culture.
The somber Otherside sounded beautiful with the massive crowd singing along, and Anthony himself also sounded great for most of the evening. Parallel Universe was the only time during the show where it seemed like Anthony was having trouble staying on key, but he recovered nicely and the majority of the show sounded flawless.
With Flea now 50-years-old and Anthony hitting the big 5-0 himself in a few weeks, the way the band still performs on stage is more than impressive. Flea has more energy than any 20-something you could throw on stage and now that Anthony’s foot is fully healed from an injury that postponed many of this tour’s dates, he’s back to sprinting and twirling around the stage like nothing ever happened. Seeing a band that still enjoys performing as much as RHCP does never gets old.
Adding Josh as a full member of the band hasn’t been perfect, but at this show he played as though he’s been a member of this band since it was created. For fans still concerned about the lack of a certain guitarist, take comfort in knowing that Josh seems to be more about adding his own style to the band than trying to fill the shoes of John Frusciante.
The way that the band still interacts on stage, maintaining intense eye contact during extended jams, discussing set changes on the fly and even dancing together, it’s clear that this version of the Chili Peppers is certainly a well oiled machine.
The setlist was short on new material, with only Monarchy of Roses, Look Around and The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie making appearances. All were well received, but Rain Dance was definitely the highlight of the three. Most of the track sounded as it does on record, but the ending gave way to a massive, beautiful jam segment by Flea and Josh, with Anthony actually doing a rain dance around the pair.
Each hit that made an appearance during the show seemed to garner a louder response than the one before it. Under the Bridge remains a radio staple to this day and people still connect with it. It’s another one of those tracks that just transforms in a live setting — almost like the song belongs to the crowd and the band is just there to channel it for them. Josh gets bonus points for the beautiful extended intro he added to the song.
After closing the main set with Californication and By the Way, the band came back out for a three song encore. Following a brief drum solo by Chad Smith, they played two covers — Stevie Wonder’s Higher Ground and Neil Young’s Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. After the two covers, the band closed with mega-hit Give It Away which found Josh really showcasing his own style during the solo. After another extended jam at the end, the band left the stage — almost two hours after they started.
While the show may be too hit-centric for those who are in love with I’m With You, the band really seems to have found their groove once again. Josh has settled into the role he’s been cast in and the rest of the band seems to be invigorated by the injection of new energy. This is simply not a tour to be missed if you’ve ever liked the Chili Peppers.
Monarchy of Roses, Dani California, Can’t Stop, Otherside, Look Around, She’s Only 18, Soul to Squeeze, The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie, Me & My Friends, Parallel Universe, Suck My Kiss, Under the Bridge, Californication, By the Way, Chad & Mauro Jam, Higher Ground, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Give It Away