Trusting his senses, Anthony Kiedis scans the crowd and notes: “Everything feels good here tonight — looks right, smells right.” Rocking out since 1983, the Chili Peppers’ tribal beat goes on. The band’s longtime members Kiedis, Flea, and Chad Smith return to the road to support their latest record, I’m With You (Warner Bros., 2011). Josh Klinghoffer, the band’s new guitarist, and Brazilian percussionist Mauro Refosco also appear on this tour.
The sold out Atlanta show was rescheduled from January 30, due to a foot injury sustained by Kiedis. In just two days (April 14), the band will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Known for their controversial performances, the Chilis once appeared on stage wearing only strategically placed socks. On March 29, the band sported hooded sweatshirts as a tribute to Trayvon Martin at their Tampa show (which Flea will be “giving away to friends in Florida” according to his Twitter account).
Atlanta’s show was less provocative; these are family men now. But they’re clearly still having fun. Flea walked the stage on his hands and leapt like a wild child with his bass. Their set list drew mainly from the last decade’s catalog, with only a few selections (“Give It Away,” “Sir Psycho Sexy,” “They’re Red Hot”) from 1991’s seminal album, Blood Sugar Sex Magik.
Following the band since the ’90s, I did notice the lack of crowd-surfing and fanatic behavior. Not to fault the young audience — I’ve no idea who they’d look to as the wild boys of rock today. The squeaky clean cast of Glee and Justin Bieber don’t quite cut it.
Besides slower crowd favorites like “Wet Sand,” the Chili Peppers show was all about the beats. “Can’t Stop” and “Higher Ground” were hard-driving highlights. Extended jam sessions between Chad and Mauro, or Flea and Josh showcased the band’s lasting love and skill for everything they play. And Anthony Kiedis spits staccato lyrics with a rhythm like a funked-up rattlesnake.
The music feels forever young and will be shocking parents for a long time to come.
Red Hot Chili Peppers will headline the 2012 Lollapalooza tour in Chicago on August 3-5.