Red Hot Chili Peppers Toyota Center October 20, 2012
The Red Hot Chili Peppers have stuck around long enough -- through drugs, overdoses, creative strife and changing musical tides -- to have 30 years of hits they can knock out into the nosebleeds at any given live show.
Saturday night's Toyota Center set, a makeup date for a canceled spring show, was overflowing with those hits, with some new material slotted in too. If Texas' RHCP fans had tried, they could have seen them twice this past week; after Iggy & the Stooges' scorched-earth ACL display two Sundays ago, it was left to the Chilis to close out the festival for the year.
Those Peppers are now on the frontline of classic alt-rock acts still chugging along, a formidable group that includes Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, whoever is playing with Billy Corgan now, and the now-hiatusing Foo Fighters. With that tag also comes a party bus full of fans, hopped up on nostalgia and the band's signature energy.
That's polite-speak for "some of these dudes are dicks, but they mean well."
Musically and onstage, the group has slowed since their early heyday, but that mellowing has just given a new patina to both their past and present material.
Live, replacement guitarist Josh Klinghoffer ably fills in for the legendary John Frusciante, but he cannot replace the parts where the exited guitarist soared; namely, his fragile backing falsetto and improvisational expanses. That being said, Klinghoffer still has a fire of his own, that is when he is not sitting down in a chair onstage. A foot injury will do that.
Likewise, drummer Chad "Will Ferrell" Smith and ever-youthful bassist Flea make for a startlingly fun rhythm section in a live setting. Flea is undoubtedly an influential bassman, even if most people who take to his instrument could never touch what he does.
Lead singer Anthony Kiedis has long ago shorn his beautiful female-friendly long locks for a trendy Hitler hairdo, and now looks more like his father Blackie Dammett than ever. The sound mix at the venue, though, muddied his lines most of the night, but that didn't matter much to the crowd.
He's not a powerhouse vocalist live; the isolation of the studio has always been his friend.