The history of funky Californian rock kings Red Hot Chili Peppers tells a colourful story, and that’s putting it lightly.
Twelve studio albums under their belts, a healthy collection of awards, a recently bestowed star on the Hollywood walk of fame and a swarm of devoted fans that reach all corners of the planet, the Chili Peppers have achieved a level of rock-stardom that makes playing stadiums look as ordinary as breathing.
Fresh from the release of Rick Rubin produced ‘Unlimited Love’, which saw the return of seminal guitarist John Frusciante, the band are back selling out stadiums. Considering the earnest love Spanish crowds have for the Chili Peppers, it made sense that the tour would kick off in Spain.
Clash caught the band play in Barcelona, the second stop on their global stadium tour. Upon arriving at the Estadi Olímpic LIuís Companys, a 55,000-capacity stadium located in the hills of southern Barcelona, you’re struck by the buzz of excitement from fans. Those not wearing Red Hot Chili Peppers’ t-shirts are the anomalies. There are fans both young and old, couples, groups of friends and entire families with young children, all engulfing the striking venue.
The stadium lights go out and a mighty roar from the Catalonian crowd is let out when Chad Smith, John Frusciante and Flea emerge. The three jam together, delivering signature funky Flea bass slaps and muched-missed Frusciante guitar licks which bleed into a high energy performance of ‘Can’t Stop’. Anthony Kiedis arrives on stage clad in a satin red bomber, that is, as expected, quickly removed prior to second track on the set-list, ‘Dani California’.
The next 100 minutes sees the band effortlessly command the crowd, proving their status as one of the worlds much adored rock bands through plays of their cherished earlier tracks alongside those taken from Unlimited Love.
The new record has its fair share of plays throughout the show. ‘Black Summer’, the lead cut on ‘Unlimited Love’, is sandwiched between ‘Zephyr Song’ and ‘Snow (Hey Oh)’. The tune has proved itself to be a new fan favourite, with slews of people belting each lyric word for word, the same is to be said for ‘Aquatic Mouthdance’.
Unsurprisingly, there are no performances from previous two records ‘The Getaway’ and ‘I’m With You’. Whether down to being spoilt for choice considering the overflowing library of iconic Chili Pepper tracks or, perhaps more likely, because neither of those records featured John Frusciante.
Frusciante’s return is a highlight of the nights show. His undeniable gift for shredding is hair raising. He radiates a different energy to that of Flea and Kiedis, who frolic around the stage with eccentricity. His soft and gentle demeanour is apparent yet doesn’t hinder his talent for fiery guitar licks.
Possibly one of Frusciante’s most iconic guitar performances of all time, is the pensive, distinctive introduction to ‘Californication’. The entire venue erupts into cheer when John Frusciante plays the opening bar of the 90s classic.
Throughout the set, Flea entertains the audience with his witty and unique humour. Declaring that he has “the sweatiest balls in Barcelona” and dedicating a tune to “all the Foetuses swimming happily their mommas’ wombs”. Kiedis also chats to the audience, breaking into a rap about his adoration for an unknown person’s haircut whilst showing off his Spanish prior to leaving the stage before the encore.
When the band leave the stage, a striking sight of thousands of phone torches lights up the entire venue. The buzz of anticipation breaks into yet another almighty roar when Flea somersaults on stage followed by the rest of the band.
An exquisite, sentimental performance of ‘Under the Bridge’ evokes goosebumps followed by a feral high energy ending in the form of ‘By the Way’ once again affirms that this band, four decades into their career are not going anywhere.
Set for the next three months touring the globe, the Chili Peppers have proved with this Barcelona show that they are built for playing colossal shows with effortless aptitude that reaches from the barrier all the way to the back.
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Words: Isabella Miller
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