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RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS w/ George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic
Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney
Tuesday 19 February, 2019
Not many musicians in their mid 50s, who have sold 80 million records worldwide can still manage to play with such energy and buoyancy as the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
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The four piece outfit relishes the chance to prove themselves in their performance and musicianship and their evident friendship is still intact after such a long career full of tragedies and triumphs along the way. The band’s longtime axeman John Frusciante left after the Stadium Arcadium tour and the last decade of their history has all been about reinvention.
Josh Klinghoffer became their permanent new guitarist and producer Danger Mouse replaced their longtime mentor Rick Rubin on their studio recordings. Since the departure of Frusciante, the Chili Peppers only visited Australia once for an appearance at the Big Day Out in 2013. Their Aussie fans however had not been given the chance to witness them play a headline show in 12 years until the announcement of an early 2019 national tour that included Hobart (a first for them) and two nights at Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena brought back genuine excitement for patient devotees.
Joining them for the Australian tour were legendary P-Funk visionaries George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic. The two bands have shared history going back to the 80s when Clinton produced the Chili Peppers second LP Freaky Styley. They were the ideal support act and entertained the Sydney crowd with 15 performers on stage at the same time with dancers, hype men and all. Costumes and fashion accessories were mandatory as well as gyrating your hips and bouncing your thighs to classic jams such as Give up the Funk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker). The smooth guitar playing on the acid rock/funk trip opus Maggot Brain was a highlight on their set and reminded the audience of their 70s sonic experimentations; there was no break in their entire set, it was all one-funk express train ride with no stops.
For the tons of hit songs The Red Hot Chili Peppers have crafted, at their foundation they are a jam band. Flea, Josh and Chad Smith came on stage and played as if it was just the three of them playing blissfully in a rehearsal room.
With some incredible improvisation they built up the riff of their memorable tune Can’t Stop and suddenly Anthony Kiedes ran vigorously onto the stage. With many old and new numbers to choose from in their vast set list, the fans were treated to songs from their latest release The Getaway as well as some deep cuts from Stadium Arcadium, Blood Suger Sex Magic and songs going all the way back to the days of Mother’s Milk including their cover of Stevie Wonder’s Higher Ground. Flea also acknowledged the huge influence George Clinton had on their music and told the audience that Parliament Funkadelic was his bible growing up. The ecstatic atmosphere was palpable on songs such as Californication with Flea and Josh doing a duo medley as an intro and the infectious composition of the massive hit By the Way got the crowd proudly jumping and singing the chorus just like their heroes on stage.
A requested encore was granted with a jam that included their funk rock anthem Give It Away as well as several drumsticks being thrown at fans for them to keep. The one main talking point of the night was the exclusion of their career defining tour de force Under the Bridge. It was a song that ushered in a new era of rock music in the 90s and it’s disappointing that it was not included as it would have been a fitting ending to an unforgettable night. The Red Hot Chili Peppers proved they still have plenty of life in them and are attracting younger fans to their shows alongside their hardcore supporters who have been with them since day one. There’s no sign of them slowing down, they are still a force in modern music and perhaps evenings like this remind younger bands and rock fans that age really is a social construct and great music is timeless and lives on long after the concert ends.
Catch Red Hot Chili Peppers with special guests George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic at the following dates:
Wednesday 20 February // Qudos Bank Arena // Sydney
Saturday 23 February // Hope Estate // Hunter Valley
Monday 25 February // Brisbane Entertainment Centre // Brisbane
Tuesday 26 February // Brisbane Entertainment Centre // Brisbane
Thursday 28 February // Rod Laver Arena // Melbourne
Saturday 2 March // A Day on the Green – Mt Duneed Estate // Geelong
Sunday 3 March // Superloop Adelaide 500 // Adelaide
Tuesday 5 March // NIB Staduim // Perth