RHCP Wembley Arena (July 1996?)


(A clipping with no date/ source).





So this is how it’s to end, then? Speaker stacks toppling to the floor, drums cascading across the stage as butt-naked bassist Flea stands triumphantly on the drum riser, arms and legs; akimbo and most definitely without his trusty sock. Is it really to come to a close with the massed frenzy caused by David Navarro smashing up one guitar (yawn) and giving another to a member of the audience?

Well, yes. You see, The Red Hot Chili Peppers are, according to rumour, calling it a day. And, with the dying moments of their supposed last-ever show, they display more brattish arrogance, more laddish posturing than they have previously managed in what seems like a century of sock-jock humour. And don’t the kids just love them for it.

They love the way Flea discards his gold lame nappy after three songs. They love it when the naked bassist wraps his nimble fingers around the horn refrain from Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke” and the punk rock riffs of “Anarchy In The UK” and “Blitzkrieg Bop”. And, when he introduces a blinding version of Fugazi’s “Waiting Room” as the the British national anthem”, no one can deny that Flea is the star of the show.

No one but lead singer Anthony Keidis [sic], that is. The limelight-craving, short-tongued Keidis is not so much a star as the missing link, it’s the protruding upper and lower jaw that give him away. That and the way he drags his knuckles along the floor, wears a cummerbund to hold his stomach in and uses a mic stand to help him stay upright. But the kids love him all the same. Row upon row of them, dressed in board shorts and huge boots. Shirts off to display those uniform, modern primitive tattoos, Hundreds of them all aping the apeman, throwing evolution-defying, over-mannered hip hip shapes.

The Chilis wheel out the faves- “Higher Ground”, “Suck My Kiss”, “Backwoods” -every period of their career presented in an orgy of grandiose gesturing and axe masturbation. “Blood Sugar Sex Magic” finds hundreds of not-quite-broken voices barking the chorus like a “Beavis and Butt-Head” out-take. (“Huhuh, he said ‘sex’- cool”). While “Under The Bridge” brings out the lighter display, and the smell of thumbs being scorched by Zippo’s mingles with the venue’s stale air. A fitting end to any band’s career.

There was a time, a couple of guitarists back, when the Chilis were a loose and funky beast, swinging through the grooves of a George Clinton roadshow. But tonight? Well, let’s just say the funk hasn’t gone, but the rock’s got the better of them.

Time to hang up your socks, lads. It’s an evolution thing.



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