Above all else, you can be sure of this – in the canteen of the Red Hot Chili Peppers‘ soul, smack sandwiches are permanently off the menu. Cleaned up from drugs (every interview ever), they now know where they are, even if their grip on what’s going on is slightly hazier. “I have a suggestion to make about your country,” drawls Anthony Kiedis, “you should make David Bowie the King Of England.” Alright! Good joke!
Anyway, looking like they’ve arrived fresh from the gym, the Pepps – with bassist Flea inexplicably dressed up like The Riddler – arrive onstage and proceed to jump around like they just don’t care. For half an hour, it’s highly entertaining, as they whip through the bratty Beasties‘ fratboyisms of ‘Around The World’ and a jittery version of ‘Give It Away’, before crooning ‘Under The Bridge’ with such skag romanticism that it’s easy to see why All Saints might have mistaken it for a simple love song.
Like all reformed addicts, though, they can’t keep quiet for long. So, as if all the interviews weren’t enough, haphazardly riffing through Iggy‘s ‘Search And Destroy’ to underline the drug survivor point is just plain boring. As is their fascination with white-boy funk. From the cock-fondling ‘Suck My Kiss’ to the emotionally-blank ballad ‘Californication’, everything here is strangled by a surfeit of twanging bass.
Essentially a bar band made good, the Chilis‘ musical aspirations have singularly failed to grow with their still-burgeoning profile. Which – alarmingly to anyone not yearning to stroke Kiedis and Flea‘s gleaming pecs – is obviously the key to their ability to conquer foreign territories with the chilling precision of a B52 bombing raid. If tonight proves anything, it’s that some people will unquestionably reward efficient blandness.
And now the, er, Hots, without even the distraction of living out the LA poodle-rock dream, are blander than ever. Fitter, happier and even less inventive than they were to start off with. If this is the effect of cutting off the supply, the campaign for force-feeding rock stars hard drugs starts here.