Saturday evenings don’t get much better than this: the Red Hot Chilli Peppers at the London Stadium, with their big old Californian sound, blasting out their greatest hits for a night of all-consuming fun.
Thundercat and Anderson .Paak opened it in style. A$AP Rocky has understandably attracted the majority of the headlines in terms of opening acts for this tour, but in Thundercat and Anderson .Paak we’re talking about two of the coolest, most talented cats in music, and the absence of A$AP on Saturday was not felt.
Anderson .Paak, in particular, was a spectacle – smashing away at his drum kit, bellowing in his oh so smooth voice, wig blowing in the wind. I don’t really know how one can sing, dance and play the drums at the same time, but he clearly does, and in fact is something of a master. What a dude.
That was always just a starter, however, and soon enough the main course arrived.
I’m not sure if it comes with stratospheric success or old(er) age – or, most likely, a combination of the two – but there is a liberating quality to musicians not trying to be cool. The Red Hot Chilli Peppers are, of course, very cool, but they know that and don’t feel the need to prove anything. Why reinvent the wheel when you know what people want? Just give it to them.
Sure enough, they got things underway with ‘Can’t Stop’, whipping the crowd up into a frenzy that never really subsided. All the biggest hits followed – ‘Californication’, ‘Under the Bridge’ and ‘Snow (Hey Oh)’ – each rolling through, each delivered with aplomb.
The energy of the Chilli Peppers trio of Anthony Keidis, Flea, Chad Smith and John Frusciante was astonishing. For a band who’ve been around the block this many times, it’s easy to imagine that you could at least partly let it slip, but from the moment they took to the stage, they held the entire stadium.
Admittedly, they were helped by the hypnotic graphics behind them. The saturated screens of colours melting into each other, almost like molten lava, made it difficult to look away.
‘under the bridge’; red hot chili peppers in london tonight 🤍 pic.twitter.com/fbEzUFbkQE
— zain (@iffytmrrw) June 25, 2022
As the sun set on the summer sky, the atmosphere only improved. I’m not normally one for that whole phone light waving thing, but in a packed out London Stadium, with Anthony Kiedis serenading tens of thousands to ‘Under the Bridge’, it was pretty special.
Also worth noting, as charismatic as Anthony Keidis is, it was nice to see other members of the band so heavily involved. Frusciante impressed with a number of solos, his presence made all the sweeter after a 13 year absence from the band. Flea, in particular, seemed to have a particularly prominent role, with Keidis having to leave the stage on a couple of occasions. Smith’s declaration of love at the end was the perfect way to end it.