When I went: 5 December 2016
Location: The O2, London
Performers: Red Hot Chili Peppers (supported by Babymetal)
Creative team: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Approximate price: £80
Special points: Overhead light board
Best bit: Don’t Forget Me
If I could change one thing: Longer set
I have been a Chilis fan for a while but this was my first time seeing them live. Like a lot of people, I am most familiar with their Californication and By the Way albums, but also know some of their new stuff; after seeing this gig, I realised what a big and high-quality back catalogue they actually had, and slightly wished that their set lasted a bit longer.
Unlike the high-concept staging of Muse and Pink‘s gigs, the Chilis mostly stuck to an overhead light board which turned different colours and lowered lights in different formations to create cool, sometimes hypnotic effects to match each song. The lack of complicated effects wasn’t a drawback, and highlighted how tight they are on stage, and how much natural chemistry there is between the band members. They perform very freely and with an obvious ease and enjoyment, with Anthony Kiedis providing almost flawless vocals and Flea even walking on his hands at one point (show off).
I also enjoyed how freely they advertised the LA Lakers with the logos on their guitars; having seen the Lakers myself back in March and becoming a shirt-wearing Lakers fan myself, it was cool to see them bring that piece of LA to London.
They began the set with Can’t Stop, a definite crowd-pleaser and a good illustration of their sound, which I still think of as ‘chiming guitars and off-beat poetry’. The set list was a fairly typical mix of a few new songs (like Dark Necessities) but mostly older and the most popular ones, with Under the Bridge, By the Way and Californication being particularly well-received. There were quite a few impressive instrumental interludes as well, but my personal favourite song was Don’t Forget Me, where the full-on commitment the band brings to each song was even more heightened. They ended their encores with Give It Away, a great choice guaranteed to stick in your head as you pile on to a ridiculously crowded tube or bus or wait in the taxi queue to get home.
Seeing the Chilis live definitely increased my appreciation for them as a band and I would certainly recommend seeing them if you are a fan and haven’t already. Their stage presence and sense of enjoyment of their music elevates their performances and they have no shortage of great material to work with.