RHCP promotes 11th studio album
Nearly four years after their last major tour ended, alternative funk legends the Red Hot Chili Peppers are back on the road for a massive 18-month world tour to promote their 11th studio album, The Getaway. After a successful European leg, the band returned to the United States and dropped by New York City for three sold-out nights at Madison Square Garden. The night started with bassist Michael Balzary, also known as Flea, coming on stage to introduce a very special and personal guest. Drummer Jack Irons was a founding member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and despite playing on only one record, 1987’s The Uplift Mofo Party Plan, he made several writing contributions for the band’s first four studio albums. He left the band in 1988 after finding guitarist and childhood friend Hillel Slovak died of a heroin overdose. Irons sat behind the kit for Seattle rockers Pearl Jam for four years in the 1990s. After estranging himself from the Red Hot Chili Peppers as a result of Slovak’s death, Irons eventually reconciled with his old bandmates with two special live appearances in 2012, including their induction ceremony into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Shortly before the new tour’s kickoff, the band announced that Irons would serve as a secondary supporting act for the North American dates. After a quick transition, the second and primary opening band, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews took the stage with his backing band Orleans Avenue. In a stark contrast to both Irons and the headlining act, this act was a straight up jazz group with inklings of rock music scattered throughout the songs. But whether or not they fall into the category of jazz fusion is all up to the listener. Given that many of Flea’s biggest heroes on bass guitar came from a jazz background, it is no surprise that the band hired Andrews as a supporting act. But in 40 jazz-filled minutes, Andrews brought a New Orleans atmosphere to the packed arena and ultimately received a more gleaming reception from fans when compared to Irons’ set.
After an hour and a half of two opening acts, the Red Hot Chili Peppers finally hit the stage with Flea, guitarist Josh Klinghoffer in his second full-fledged tour as an official band member and long-time drummer Chad Smith launching into the lengthy jams that defined the band’s live shows. After some brief instrumental noodling, lead vocalist Anthony Kiedis joined the band with the crowd favorite “Can’t Stop.” Coupled with an elaborate setup of multicolored lighting tubes that move in synchronicity with the songs, the band gave the audience all the major hits and fan favorites, with four tracks from The Getaway appearing during the show. One highlight was the band’s performance of its newest single “Go Robot.” Aside from bringing a second bass guitarist on stage for the first time in the band’s history, a dancer in a chrome-colored skin tight costume came on stage to augment Kiedis’ absurd lyrics involving sex with robots.
Being that the new record featured an increased presence of keyboards, thanks to new producer Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton, the band finally added a main keyboard player to its touring lineup, Nate Walcott. Aside from the piano, Walcott’s menagerie of keyboards included rock classics like a Mellotron, clavinet and Minimoog Voyager. Even before The Getaway, the band recorded a few keyboard-heavy songs with Frusciante on keys. The new addition to the touring band would have been an ideal opportunity to dig into the band’s catalog.
This leads to another problem of the show—the set list itself. The Red Hot Chili Peppers have not been known for sticking to a consistent set list and this particular tour was no exception. But a lot of the shows featured similar selections of greatest hits with very little deviation between nights. Being that this is Klinghoffer’s second major tour, it would have been nice if more material from I’m With You and its B-side compilation I’m Beside You was featured to further establish him as a member of the band rather than just Frusciante’s replacement. The set list never goes any further from Frusciante classics, with only one song from the Slovak era being featured and Dave Navarro’s sole album with the band One Hot Minute was completely ignored.
All things aside, the Red Hot Chili Peppers still delivered a night of euphoric music and eclectic funk only they can deliver. Hopefully, future tours will feature deeper cuts in the set list without being overly attached to the hits.