• Review

REVIEW: Red Hot Chili Peppers at Riverbend Music Center

Photo Cred: Ron Valle Photography

It was a day of clouds, rain, and humidity that turned into a bright and comfortable evening made better by the LA crew from the Red Hot Chili Peppers ready to kick up an evening of music. Riverbend was packed in the seats and the lawn with a sold-out crowd for this event. As I walked into the crowd, I recalled the first time I saw these guys in Boston in 1991. Though many faces are older, including those on stage, the reality is that RHCP now spans generations of music lovers. I confirmed this since two of my children were there for the show. Young and old joined in the fun for this hard rockin’ funk-filled performance supporting their Unlimited Love Tour.

Red Hot Chili Peppers have had a solid and unchanging lineup for about two decades now. Chad Smith on drums sporting the red tonight, Anthony Kiedis on vocals, John Frusciante lighting up the guitar and the infamous Flea flaunting his skills on the bass. To start the show tonight we watched Flea and Chad make their way out first to kick off the jam to get the crowd ready. Flea sporting the yellow and purple Lakers colors and the ‘Support your Local Freak’ bass guitar. Joined quickly by our guitarist of the night, John Frusciante. Showcasing skills on the instruments until Anthony runs on stage (foot in an orthopedic boot and all) to break into “Can’t Stop” to really get the crowd roaring. Kiedis was not hindered by a foot injury while he continued to move around the stage with his usual energy.

RHCP filled the set with a mix of songs from the Unlimited Love album which they are supporting and classics from throughout their career. I saw some reviews for this tour with some people feeling some angst for missing some of their favorite songs. My take is quite different since I’ve seen 10+ shows over the years. Seems the boys are mixing up the sets, probably making it fun for themselves also along the way. Some of my early career favorites were missing, but that’s what happens when a band has so many songs fit for the live show. For me, a highlight is always an older song, and this time “Nobody Weird Like Me” hit the spot from the Mother’s Milk album. And an unexpected Flea bass line I recognized made me see Willy Wonka in my head. If you were there and couldn’t quite place it… Pure Imagination.

From tonight’s set, we heard newer music in “Here Ever After”, Whatchu Thinkin”, and “Black Summer”. Mixed in are some of the crowd favorites, at least the crowd I came with- “Soul to Squeeze,” “Californication,” “Suck My Kiss,” and “By The Way.” The Red Hot Chili Peppers have been known for many antics over the years, most documented I’m sure. My wife likes to remind us all about the time they tagged her Catholic School with spray paint back in 1987 or so with ‘Red Hot Chili Peppers were here’ (not documented). But now, they leave an indelible memory in their music. The sometimes underappreciated John Frusciante really kicked some ass on his well-worn guitar all night long changing instruments for maybe 2 or 3 songs maximum. And Flea really trips us out with the bass lines and ever appreciates the fact that we all support live music. Finishing out the night with an encore of “Give It Away,” you could see the crowd doubting it was over, but alas, til next time.

A somewhat different opening act than I am used to seeing for the Chili Peppers, Domi, and JD Beck played an instrumental set that was more jazz-like with keyboards and drums only. The skill and belief in their music gave an interesting start to the night and made me take a minute to appreciate the jazz drumming and more complex composition. They were well received by this audience.

To sum it up… The Red Hot Chili Peppers still look like they are having a blast and living it up night after night. I’m glad they dropped into Cincinnati to share both new music and nostalgia with long-time fans. And I hope they continue to draw new fans into the Chili Pepper fan club as they’re clearly not wrapping it up anytime soon. I will certainly do my part to keep the party going.

Red Hot Chili Peppers at Riverbend Music Center

Open Album