Red Hot Chili Peppers Live Review @ Phones 4u Arena (Manchester) - 12 Jul 2006
By The Way is by far the best RHCP album this millennium and the delight of the crowd when they soar into the title track, after the spicy funked up jam between John Frusciante and Flea substantiates this point. This follows an ill-fated country mourn from the pair, when the lights went off instead of on and vice versa, but this did not curb the crowd's enthusiasm, as the venue rose up. Frivolous jamming, with the main protagonist being the sprightly bassist Flea and material from the last two albums make for the lion's share of a set that maybe lacked energy, but served as a rock exhibition at times.
It is obvious in a live setting that the tone and pace of crowd friendly numbers such as Scar Tissue and the rare foray into older material through Blood Sugar Sex Magic, is controlled adeptly by the racing and forcefully rhythmic percussion of Chad Smith. Anthony Kiedis, on the other hand, seems a little forced in both his vocal and gyrating style. Screaming girls, extravagant lightning and more merchandise than at Disney World shows the boundaries between rock and pop to be blurring by the day. The uncompromising nature of their jam infused music and their broad ability to switch moods, such as their yearning mid-set interlude of Don't Forget Me and the crowd backed Tell Me Baby, keeps The Chilis authenticity in tact. Also, it shows that their yearning heart on sleeve nature is not lost, as Kiedis puts in his most polished vocal performance.
Probably the most poignant moment of the whole evening appears in the encore when John Fruscante delivers a slow and emotive rendition of Pink Floyd's Jugband Blues. The crowd, metaphorically speaking (or literally in the odd case), salivates with delight when the opening notes of Give It Away ring out and the number is delivered with rugged gusto. Then Kiedis makes an un-ceremonial departure to set the way for some funky blues jamming between Frusciante and Flea, helping the crowd to calm down for the journey home and appreciate some building musical craft. The debate will rage on as to whether The Chilis' lacks energy in live setting and if their failure to make a real crowd connection is made up for in the delivery of the songs and their broad range?
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