The Funky Monks have still got it...
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Live at the O2 Arena, London

Over twenty-five years into their career and the Red Hot Chili Peppers have to be the most in-shape band of their generation. Considering that they haven’t exactly always lived a life of yoga and tofu - death, drug addiction and fights all featuring – it’s amazing they’re here at all, let alone commanding the kind of respect to host three nights at The O2. Enthusiasm for the Peppers’ melodic funk never seems to wane and as thousands pour into the cavernous arena it’s up to Fool’s Gold to keep the crowd entertained till the L.A. giants appear.

Such a daunting task doesn’t seem bother the support act, marching happily on with a wave and “Hello” before gently erupting into their ear-pleasing brand of upbeat percussion and tropical guitar work. A perfect accompaniment to the Chilis’ sunnier tunes, Fool’s Gold’s gentler noise acts as the perfect warm up while still impressing enough in attendance to come flooding to the front.

Three songs in and the empty seats are quickly filled with half of the O2 clapping along to numbers such as ‘Nadine’. The appearance of Josh Klinghoffer for a jammy number adds extra excitement as well as fire to the fellow Californians, frontman Luke Top producing the finest of bass backing while singing. No doubt many more will be converted to Fool’s Gold over the course of these concerts.

A twenty minute wait and the main event appear, Chad Smith’s bowel shaking kit pummelling all in the standing section with the opening beats of ‘Monarchy of Roses’ from latest ‘I’m With You’. New recruit Klinghoffer’s resemblance to friend and former Chili’s axeman John Frusciante is uncanny, not just visually but in movement. More aggressive in playing style, his heavier guitar tones seem to have brought back the ‘Blood Sugar Sex Magik’ era energy to the band, an infectiously chaotic air despite the big budget screens and lighting.

‘Dani California’ provides the nights first true sing along while a blistering version of ‘If You Have To Ask’ gets the older audience members head-banging and screaming in delight.

Jams galore throughout the evening, it’s refreshing to see one of the biggest bands of the planet still letting loose and telling dick jokes the way the Chilis do, wealth and fame unable to shake loose their infamous mischievous streak. ‘The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie’ proves a far more effective live song than album number, Flea’s slick bass riff fuelling Kiedis’ top notch vocal performance. Previously the weak link musically Kiedis seems to have mastered his live attack, Stevie Wonder cover ‘Higher Ground’ and highlight ‘By The Way’ proving no challenge, singer switching between rap and melodies with ease.

The encore is unorthodoxly started with a manic drum jam before moving onto classic ‘Under the Bridge’, with maximum crowd participation. An extended ‘Give it Away’ ends the night; lights, video and sound merged as one groovy assault to the senses. The band and crowd are both drenched in sweat, Flea thanks all and the Funky Monks retire, readying themselves for tomorrow.

Words by Sam Walker-Smart

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