Chad Smith (left) and Flea at the Sprint Center on Saturday night. Photos by Joe Ledford/The Star. For a slide show of the concert, go here.
They are recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees who will celebrate their 30th anniversary in 2013, and three of its four members are in their 50s (or about to be), but the Red Hot Chili Peppers aren’t exactly living off that past nor retiring gently into the twilight. And judging by the response the band got from a big crowd at the Sprint Center on Saturday night, they have no reason to do either.
The band is touring on its latest album, “I’m With You,” released in August 2011, and band members opened with one of their tracks, “Monarch of Roses.” It may be a new song but it features the traits the Chili Peppers have forged into inimitable trademarks over three decades: atonal vocals by Anthony Kiedis, a funky-rubbery bass line from Flea and plenty of thunder and fills from drummer Chad Smith, who got some fortification from an extra percussionist. This tour also is the first to feature guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, who replaced John Frusciante in 2009 (and who appeared to be still nursing a foot he broke during a show in August).
The crowd gave a loud welcome to that song and to another new one, “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie.” But it saved the heavy ovations for the older stuff: “Snow,” “Under the Bridge” (which launched a thousand or so cell-phone video cameras), the cover of Stevie Wonder’s “ Higher Ground” and the ballistic “Give It Away,” which was delivered with extra menace.
Kiedis had little to say, leaving the emcee duties up to Flea, who also entertained with some gymnastic/yoga feats. He and Kiedis ended up shirtless, showing off their buffed/ripped arms and torsos. For the encore, Smith came back hanging by his arms from a klieg of stage lights. It all added vigor and levity to a show that opened at full throttle and stayed there until Flea delivered his tender farewell to a big, loud crowd that seemed to share his earnest appreciation.