“Do I feel sometimes that playing ‘Give It Away’ one more time is gonna make my c**k fall off? Yes I do.”
The charming words of Flea in an interview for NME early Saturday upon their arrival to the Reading Festival site. As the band’s most-played song (773 times), there could be some true in that statement. Like all bands of their magnitude, the Red Hot Chili Peppers have a number of fan favourites that we, their fans, may expect them to play. From the instantly recognisable riff of ‘Can’t Stop’ to the more serene notes that begin ‘Under The Bridge’, both performed in Saturday headlining set, the Chilis have sold out arenas and stadiums with setlist full of these great hits.
However, as Flea himself points out, the constant repetition of a setlist night after night, and then year after year can get to a band, where you can reach of zone of going through the motions comfortably, which for some can lead to sloppiness. While the Chilis had in no way a poor performance, drummer Chad Smith and bassist Flea creating at times a furiously powerful rhythm section, the whole spectacle of the show felt somewhat comfortable rather than out-there, enthralling their latest crowd. Whether this was a quieter than usual PA sound system for their set, or a band going through the motions is up to the rest of the audience to decide.
The Chili Peppers’ world tour in support of ‘The Getaway’ album incorporates some new and very exciting material, a much fresher sound which still holds true to the rhythm-driven style of RHCP. As a fan of their newest material, ‘Dark Necessities’ was performed well, frontman Anthony Kiedis taking quickly to the select few songs seen so far on the tour. Personally I would have liked to see more of the new material, the variation in style and tempo between tracks like ‘The Longest Wave’ and ‘Detroit’ could themselves give a nicely varied set, and leaves certainly more than enough space for the hits.
To an extent, opinions over the quality of the set didn’t seem to matter, the Chilis taking by far the largest crowd of the festival (post-Clyro finale), and held the attention of the crowd even through the start to Two Door Cinema Club’s set halfway through.
While at times erring on the wrong side of comfortable, the Chili Peppers are still a joy to watch, a band more than capable of holding their own and giving off an energetic vibe, a positive sign for a band in their 32nd year. Flea went on in the interview to say that “no matter whether it is Give It Away or new material, we will always try to use it to connect to our audience”. If anything has come out of considering the review for this set, it’s a recommendation to get the absolutely brilliant new album ‘The Getaway’, a real return to great song-writing form that many bands don’t get back after they’ve lost it.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers will return to the UK for four tour dates in December
(All photos are credited to William Cole)