Kerrang 567 October 1995

CHILI PEPPERS SPICE IT UP!

They may not be smiling much, but Anthony Kiedis and Co turn on one hot performance as the Chili Peppers burn up Brixton — in skirts!

RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS

FLAMING LIPS, MOBY

Brixton Academy, London

Wednesday, October 4

THERE’S TOO much testosterone in the air tonight for the psychedelic Rock of Oklahoma’s Flaming Lips to go anywhere but down. Every time they strike up something loud and manly, singer Wayne Coyne’s reedy vocals scupper the whole thing: not good news for a crowd that are already shedding T-shirts and attempting to bond with man, woman and beast.

Hardcore DJ Moby is better placed to wow the Chills’ crowd with his Techno grooves and cheese-grater guitars, the latter courtesy of his very Metal backing band. But while one half of the crowd are hooked, the Trad Rock contingent beat a hasty retreat.

By nine o’clock, human pyramids are appearing in the crowd and dreadlocked Pepper heads are high-fiving each other. Sensing this communal desire to rawk, the Chilis’ set wisely draws from the muscle-bound end of their song-book. ‘Give It Away’ and `Suck My Kiss’ house the heavy artillery of Flea’s sinewy bass and Dave Navarro’s lissom guitar, and prepare the turf for current single ‘Warped’. Navarro, looking like the Thief of Baghdad after a lengthy session at the local tattoo parlour, could have been cloned from singer Anthony Kiedis, such is his adherence to the Chili Peppers’ sound and image.

But while the image — partial nudity, skirts and underpants — is intact, the overall sound isn’t. The normally smiley, wistful Aeroplane’ becomes a clodhopping shuffle, and ‘Funky Crime’, despite Flea’s purposeful bass-fondling, is lumpen, white-boy Rock that’s about as funky as Judas Priest.

There’s a studied seriousness about the Chili Peppers live which is at complete odds with the visual spectacle of men in skirts, and on this current tour it’s more apparent than ever. This po-facedness, coupled with a lack of communication with the crowd, tends to irk. Then again, when Kiedis croons out an almost perfect version of Bowie’s ‘Sound And Vision’ and the band pogo into Stevie Wonder’s ‘Higher Ground’, the Chills recapture the evasive groove. Love it or hate it, the big single ‘Under The Bridge’ is played beautifully, and ‘Me And My Friends’ draws the set proper to a close, Navarro slipping his leash and borrowing heavily from the handbook marked Weird Guitar Shit.

It’s all wonderful stuff, and perhaps being this musically creative and retaining a set of decent abdominal muscles is hard work. Who knows? But next time, smile more, please. MARK BLAKE

Pic Tony Wooliscroft

 

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