RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS/ROLLINS BAND
ROYAL COURT, LIVERPOOL
WHEN Henry Rollins howls, it’s not the hysterical, gushing outpourings of a demented man possessed. Henry’s pain comes at you like a guided missile: a focused, articulate attack, honed by the sheer devastating power of the Rollins Band behind him.
Pumping shards of armoured funk and lacerated blues through the black veins of hardcore with no concessions to weak or ambiguous sentiment, Rollins forms himself over the brink, time and time again. A man built entirely on muscle and acute consciousness, “Search And Destroy” tattooed across his shoulders, Henry tells it exactly how it is: “People will call you shit, people will try and keep you down. You NEED your self respect.” His words are passionate, unrelenting, the mighty array of material from the new “End Of Silence” album a firebrand to the soul. Putting the Rollins Band on as your support is either an act of bravery or extreme foolishness, even if you are as giant as the Chills.
Frontman to the end, you would never know that Chills’ singer Anthony Kaidis [sic] is suffering from a particularly vicious flu attack when he bursts onto the stage in sleek shades and silver gloves. This is sheer professionalism versus adversity, and it lifts the audience up into a twanging mass of hair and feet, through the jungle rap revamp of “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and the massive should-have-been-the-next-single “Give It Away”. However, the two Chilis-at-their-best anthems is about as crowd- pleasing as this set gets.
From here on, the energy seems to drain out of them. Much as Flea cavorts, duckwalks and attempts the splits mid air, their inspiration is waning tonight. There’s no “Fight Like A Brave”, “Jungle Man”, “Knock Me Down” or “Higher Ground” to lift proceedings, just a degeneration into lengthy drum solos, the gratuitous bastion of metal fatigue the Chills are supposed to despise.
Which is baffling, considering the fantastic shot of adrenalin and adventure the “Bloodsugarsexmagick” [sic] album was. All those twists of fresh maverick innovation “Suck My Kiss”, “The Power Of Equality”, and the title track, which blew the dust off “Mother’s Milk” and reinstated the Peppers as a challenge to be reckoned with – just aren’t biting. The Chilis are surfing over this set. Maybe the theatrical warrior stances pulled by Kaidis and Flea would be more effective entertainment had not Rollins pushed so hard and so convincingly beforehand.
An overblown “Bloodsugarsexmagick” ends the set, and the howls for more are perfunctory. But then, just when you think it’s all over, the band pull together once more. Their impromptu version of Hendrix’s “Crosstown Traffic” is devastating, razored and bloody, with all the real, vicious intent that has been missing tonight. Astounding. This is the reality we need. More blood, less sugar, equals magick.