Live review: Red Hot Chili Peppers at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland
THEY might not have played their version of Robert Johnson’s They’re Red Hot, as they did at their only other UK date, at Knebworth in Hertfordshire, the night before, but that’s exactly what the Red Hot Chili Peppers were at the Stadium of Light.
Even the weather, though not exactly red hot, it being nine o’clock at night by the time the US funk-rockers took to the stage, brightened up and dried out to mark their first visit to Sunderland in their 29-year history and their first to the north east since a 1990 show at Newcastle’s Riverside.
That dry spell came as a welcome relief for the tens of thousands of fans there since mid-afternoon to see support acts including Sunderland’s own Futureheads and the Wombats after a day of often-heavy rain.
Singer Anthony Kiedis and bassist Michael ‘Flea’ Balzary’s choice of socks, red and white ones possibly left lying around in a changing room by one of Sunderland’s players last season, was also welcomed by a sizeable chunk of the audience, though the latter was at pains later on to ensure that the noses of any fans down from Tyneside for the day were not put out of joint.
A ditty sung by the 49-year-old between songs, taking the place of one of his usual foul-mouthed but good-natured rambles, proclaiming that he loves Mackems and Geordies just the same won’t find a place on any future best-of album but it certainly left Kiedis and much of the audience bemused.
How could we tell Kiedis and Flea were wearing Sunderland football socks, you might well ask. Happily, the answer isn’t that they were using them as substitute underwear, as they used to back in the 1980s, but is, strangely enough, even odder. The conspicuousness of their socks was, rather, down to their curious legwear – a cross between shorts and trousers consisting of one leg of each - not previously seen in this part of the world but quite possibly known as shousers or even drorts and all the rage in their native Los Angeles.
Kicking off with Monarchy of Roses from their latest album, last year’s I’m With You, and concluding, 17 songs and two hours later, with a three-song encore of old favourites Suck My Kiss, Soul to Squeeze and Give it Away, the Chilis’ set, as you’d expect of a stadium show, was jam-packed with greatest hits.
Californication, Can’t Stop, Universally Speaking, Under the Bridge, Dani California, Scar Tissue and By the Way were all present and correct, and each was as rapturously received as the last, and quite rightly.
The new album was also given a good showing, with four of its 14 songs getting an airing, the pick of them being the first single, The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie, featuring some cracking guitar-playing by new boy Josh Klinghoffer.
Besides greatest hits, the band’s set was also jam-packed with jams. A greedy child with a bit of bread and butter to hand might disagree, but there is such a thing as too much jam. A good couple of minutes or more’s worth of jamming at start and finish and after just about every song was probably overdoing it and certainly tested the patience of much of the audience, but it was a pleasure to see a band enjoying playing together so much after, in the case of three quarters of them, so many years together.
There wasn’t anything about this show that wasn’t a pleasure, in fact, and we can only hope it’s not another 20-odd years before the Chilis are back this way.
n An MP3 download of the show is available at www.livechilipeppers.com priced at just short of $10 or about £6.50. A series of left-over songs from the I’m With You sessions will be released as two-track vinyl and download singles starting next month and carrying on, once a month, into next year.